The Hatchery Crutch: How We Got Here – Hakai Magazine

Hakai Magazine has published an excellent overview of the issue of hatchery salmon. Author Jude Isabella has dove deep into the history of hatcheries in the Pacific Northwest. This is part of a larger project called The Paradox of Salmon Hatcheries. The work is also available in audio format. I highly recommend this to anyone that thinks they know that hatcheries are a “good thing” The history just doesn’t support it.

From their beginnings in the late 19th century, salmon hatcheries have gone from cure to band-aid to crutch. Now, we can’t live without manufactured fish.

Volunteers Needed for Seabird Monitoring Program (June – August)

Looking for some fun volunteer opportunities this summer?

Do you enjoy watching wildlife and early morning solitude? If so please consider being a one day per week volunteer monitoring breeding and feeding behavior of Pigeon Guillemots along beach segments in Clallam County (this is part of a regional Salish Sea citizen science program[http://www.pigeonguillemot.org]).

Training (or refresher training) will be provided before surveys begin in early June. Volunteers commit to one morning hour each week for 10 weeks (through August). The Clallam Marine Resources Committee and Olympic Peninsula Audubon Society hope that sufficient numbers of returning and/or new volunteers will allow for substitutes for those taking summer vacations.

If interested, please contact Ed Bowlby (edbowlby2@gmail.com). Thanks for considering being a volunteer and please alert others who might be interested.

Trouble on the Half Shell

Scientists have discovered a mystery parasite—what will it mean for the future of Washington’s oysters?

Interesting article that features the Jamestown S’Klallam and their efforts to restore Olympia Oysters, and scientists trying to better understand the history of this mysterious parasite.

Human elements: How otters can help recover imperiled ecosystems – Crosscut

Interesting article on otters.


[Dr. Shawn Larson], the curator of conservation research at the Seattle Aquarium, has studied sea otters for 27 years. She’s fascinated by the unique properties that allow them to survive in ice cold waters and how they can help recover some of the sea’s most imperiled ecosystems. Sarah Hoffman and Beatriz Costa Lima report. (Crosscut)

Human Elements: How otterscan help recover imperiled ecosystems

What happens to salmon deep in the Pacific Ocean? Biggest-ever expedition to shed light – WA Post

Research continues on the mystery of the salmon in the open ocean. A big blank canvas with a few details currently sketched out. This may fill in more of the blank space.


The largest-ever salmon research expedition in the North Pacific, now underway, aims to shed light on that stage in the salmon life cycle. Five ships from the United States, Canada and Russia have been collecting salmon samples and studying ocean conditions across about a million square miles. Researchers hope to map where salmon from different rivers spend their winter months — when less food is available and they are particularly vulnerable — and detect signs of competition between salmon species following marine heat waves in recent years. Joshua Partlow reports. (Washington Post)

What happens to salmon deep in the Pacific Ocean? Biggest-ever expedition begins to shed light

New data could help scientists worldwide studying fish passage through dams – NW News Network

More good research being done.


Tiny devices, smaller than a couple grains of rice, help provide reams of data as researchers track salmon around Northwest dams. Scientists hope this data from juvenile Chinook salmon could help broaden the understanding of fish behavior and survival in an inexpensive and effective way at other dams around the world. Courtney Flatt reports. (NW News Network)

 https://www.opb.org/article/2022/03/15/data-fish-tracking-salmon-dams/

Condition of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary good; climate change a growing concern

This just released from NOAA.


Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary habitats are in overall good condition, with stable or improving trends, but climate change impacts are a growing concern for sanctuary managers, according to a new NOAA report on the health of the sanctuary.

The sanctuary’s “Condition Report” includes information on the status and trends of resources in the sanctuary, pressures on those resources, and management responses to the pressures that threaten the integrity of the marine environment. 

The report, based on information from 2008-2019, concludes that overall, most habitats within the sanctuary are in good condition and show signs of stable or improving trends over time. However, there are concerns about the effects of climate change—especially for open ocean habitats.

Climate change effects—marine heatwaves, harmful algal blooms, hypoxic events, and ocean acidification—are the biggest threats to the condition of the sanctuary. Although wildlife populations of the sanctuary are fairly stable or increasing overall, certain keystone and foundational species populations—the purple sea star and sunflower star, Southern Resident Killer Whales, and some salmon species—are displaying cause for concern. 

The report uses a standardized method to summarize the condition and trends of the sanctuary’s resources, habitats, and ecosystem services, as well as pressures on those resources and management responses to the pressures.

Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary was established in 1994 and includes 3,188 square miles of marine waters off the rugged Olympic Peninsula in northwest Washington state. Habitats within the sanctuary range from towering kelp forests to deep-sea coral and sponge communities, and there are over 200 reported shipwrecks. Twenty-nine species of marine mammals and more than 100 bird species reside in or migrate through the sanctuary, and it contains some of the most productive habitats for fish in the world.

In order to represent both traditional and modern-day perspectives of the relationship between humans and the ocean, this report includes the voices and knowledge of Indigenous people. Tribal Councils, tribal members, and participating staff from the four Coastal Treaty Tribes contributed to the report.

NOAA uses sanctuary condition reports as a standardized tool to assess the status and trends of national marine sanctuary resources. The assessment period for this report was 2008 through 2019, updating the previous 2008 report. It will inform the management plan review process for Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. 

A web story with details has been published by NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.

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Model of heatwave ‘blob’ shows unexpected effects in the Salish Sea – Salish Sea Currents

Science on the 2013 Pacific Ocean heatwave.


The marine heatwave that struck the Pacific Ocean in late 2013 also caused large changes in temperature in the Salish Sea, but scientists are still puzzling over the impacts of those changes on Puget Sound’s food web. The so-called “blob” of warmer than average water was thought to have increased the production of plankton, which potentially benefits creatures like herring and salmon that feed on the tiny organisms. A new paper in the journal Frontiers in Marine Science calls that interpretation into question pointing to a computer model that links the cause to higher than normal river flows in the region. Eric Wagner reports. (Salish Sea Currents Magazine)

https://www.eopugetsound.org/magazine/salish-sea-model-the-blob

New UW research explores a way to fight off invasive green crabs – Crosscut

Good news from the UW

An emerging surveillance tool could help the state and tribal partners expand detection and make trapping efforts more effective.

https://crosscut.com/environment/2022/02/new-uw-research-explores-way-fight-invasive-green-crabs

Major breakthrough on nuclear fusion energy

This is huge. Why? Because it validates a bigger design in process. This is about survival of all of us. Read on.

Operating the power plants of the future based on fusion would produce no greenhouse gases and only very small amounts of short-lived radioactive waste. Between solar, wind and fusion, we must get there to survive.

“These experiments we’ve just completed had to work,” said JET CEO Prof Ian Chapman. “If they hadn’t then we’d have real concerns about whether ITER could meet its goals.

But….Jon Amos: “Fusion is not a solution to get us to 2050 net zero. This is a solution to power society in the second half of this century.”

But…this is a huge step towards a sustainable 2050 and beyond.

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-60312633

Hottest ocean temperatures in history recorded last year – The Guardian

Not great news for those hoping to protect our oceans from the ravages of humankind. Sixth consecutive year. Whatever can be done to slow this must. While we are a small island of calm in the midst of this, nevertheless we cannot escape it. Forest fires, smoke, heat waves like last summer, acidifying oceans affecting sea food output etc. are all ahead.

“Last year saw a heat record for the top 2,000 meters of all oceans around the world, despite an ongoing La Niña event, a periodic climatic feature that cools waters in the Pacific. The 2021 record tops a stretch of modern record-keeping that goes back to 1955. The second hottest year for oceans was 2020, while the third hottest was 2019.”

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jan/11/oceans-hottest-temperatures-research-climate-crisis

WA legislators pondering kelp protection

Kelp is a critical part of the marine habitat. Kelp has been in decline across the Salish Sea, with few exceptions. Now, after a number of years monitoring the kelp beds (some done by the local volunteers of the Marine Resources Committees) a new bill has been put forward to the legislature this year to protect it. Worth weighing in with your support at the State web site. https://app.leg.wa.gov/billsummary?BillNumber=5619&Year=2021&Initiative=false

Marine Resources Volunteer surveying kelp bed. Photo by Al Bergstein

It’s Senate Bill 5619 (sponsored by Senators Lovelett, Conway, Das, Hasegawa, Nobles, Pedersen, Randall, Rolfes, Saldaña, Stanford, Van De Wege, and C. Wilson; by request of Department of Natural Resources.

House bill is 1661 sponsored by Representatives Shewmake, Ryu, Berry, Fitzgibbon, Ramel, Springer, Duerr, Walen, Callan, Goodman, Paul, Peterson, Ramos, Rule, Simmons, Slatter, Tharinger, Kloba, Pollet, and Harris-Talley; by request of Department of Natural Resources

Here’s an edited version of the bill.

AN ACT Relating to conserving and restoring kelp forests and eelgrass meadows in Washington state; adding a new section to chapter 79.135 RCW; and creating a new section.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:NEW SECTION.  Sec. 1. (1) The legislature finds that coastal ecosystems and marine vegetation provide an array of valuable ecosystem goods and services to deep water and nearshore environments in Puget Sound and along the coastline. In particular, kelp forests and eelgrass meadows act as three dimensional foundations for diverse and productive nearshore ecosystems, supporting food webs and providing important habitat for a wide array of marine life, including orcas and threatened and endangered salmon and salmonid species. These marine forests and meadows play an important role in climate mitigation and adaptation by sequestering carbon and relieving ocean acidification. Marine vegetation can sequester up to 20 times more carbon than terrestrial forests, and therefore represent a critical tool in the fight against climate change.(2) Washington state is home to 22 species of kelp and is a global hotspot for kelp diversity. However, these kelp forests are under threat and have declined in recent decades.

A 2018 study conducted by the Samish Indian Nation on the bull kelp beds in the San Juan Islands found a 305-acre loss of kelp beds from 2006 to 2016, a 36 percent decline in one decade. A statewide study published in 2021 by the department of natural resources found that compared to the earliest baseline in 1878, the amount of bull kelp in 2017 had decreased by 63 percent in south Puget Sound, with individual areas showing up to 96 percent loss.(3) The legislature also finds that kelp and eelgrass have important cultural value to northwest tribal nations and have provided diverse marine resources that have sustained and inspired indigenous traditions over generations. In particular, bull kelp has played a prominent role in traditional knowledge and technology and is used in fishing, hunting, and food preparation and storage.

Decline in kelp forests threatens these uses, and the cultural livelihoods of coast Salish peoples.(4) Washington state’s eelgrass meadows also provide vital habitat for many organisms, including nursery habitat for juvenile salmon and feeder fish. Eelgrass also helps prevent erosion and maintain shoreline stability by anchoring seafloor sediment with its spreading roots and rhizomes. Eelgrass is used as an indicator of estuary health, because of its fast response to changes in water quality.

Examples of rapid eelgrass loss include Westcott Bay in San Juan county, where in 2000 there were 37 acres of eelgrass meadows and 20 years later less than one acre remains. Changes in the abundance or distribution of this resource are likely to reflect changes in environmental conditions and therefore are key species to monitor and protect to ensure marine ecosystem health.

Kelp forests and eelgrass meadows also provide and enhance diverse recreational opportunities, including productive fishing and picturesque kayaking and diving. These activities are important for local economies and for promoting strong senses of place and overall human well-being in communities. There is a need for greater education and outreach to communities to promote sustainable recreational practices in and near kelp forests and eelgrass meadows.

Existing regional plans for conservation of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows, including the Puget Sound kelp conservation and recovery plan (2020) and the Puget Sound eelgrass recovery strategy (2015), identify the need to prioritize areas for conservation and restoration based on historical and current distributions.

The legislature further finds that our terrestrial and marine ecosystems are interlinked and the state must be proactive in conserving our resources from trees to seas by protecting and restoring our marine forests and meadows in concert with conservation and reforestation of terrestrial forests. Therefore, it is the intent of the legislature to conserve and restore 10,000 acres of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows by

2040.NEW SECTION.  

Sec. 2. A new section is added to chapter 79.135 RCW to read as follows:

(1) The department shall, consistent with this section, and subject to available funding, work with partners to establish a kelp forest and eelgrass meadow health and conservation plan that endeavors to, by the year 2040, conserve and restore at least 10,000 acres of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows. The plan should proactively and systematically address:(a) The potential loss of kelp forest and eelgrass meadow habitat throughout Puget Sound and along the Washington state coastline; and(b) Potential current and future stressors related to the decline of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows.

(2) The department shall develop the plan, in collaboration with partners, to assess and prioritize areas for coordinated conservation and restoration actions. The plan must consist of the following elements: Assessment and prioritization; identifying coordinated actions and success measures; monitoring; and reporting.(a) The department shall, together with partners, develop a framework to identify and prioritize kelp forest areas in greatest need of conservation or restoration. The framework must incorporate:(i) Conservation of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows. Utilize and build on existing research to map and prioritize areas of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows throughout Puget Sound and along the coast that are at highest risk of permanent loss, or contribute significant environmental, economic, and cultural benefits to tribal nations and local communities, including salmon recovery and water quality, and where opportunities for partnership and collaboration can accelerate progress towards the goal, and develop criteria by which an acre of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows can be considered to be conserved or restored;(ii) Map and prioritize kelp forest and eelgrass meadow areas throughout Puget Sound and along the coast where they were historically present, identifying priority locations for restoration, and where opportunities for partnership and collaboration exist that will accelerate progress towards the goal. This should include identification of sites where restoration may be possible and would most benefit nearshore ecosystem function, including where restoration could also support healthy kelp forests and eelgrass meadows, salmon recovery, water quality, and other ecosystem benefits;(iii) Identify potential stressors impacting the health and vitality of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows in prioritized areas in order to specifically address them in conservation and restoration efforts.(b) The department shall collaborate with impacted tribal nations, and other local and regional partners, to address conservation and restoration needs in the priority areas and the appropriate tools and partnerships to address them. In developing coordinated actions and success measures, the department shall:(i) Conduct an assessment and inventory of existing tools relevant to conserving and restoring kelp forests and eelgrass meadows and reducing stressors related to their decline;(ii) Identify new or amended tools that would support the goals of the plan created under this section; and(iii) Identify success measures to track progress toward the conservation and restoration goal.

(3)(a) By December 1, 2022, the department must submit a report in compliance with RCW 43.01.036 to the office of financial management and the appropriate committees of the legislature, that includes a map and justification of identified priority areas, determines an approach to monitoring the kelp forest and eelgrass meadow areas that are meeting the criteria for conservation or restoration established in the plan, and describe activities to be undertaken consistent with the plan. The kelp forest and eelgrass meadow health and conservation plan must be finalized and submitted to the office of financial management and the appropriate committees of the legislature by December 1, 2023.(b) Subsequently, each biennium, the department shall continue to monitor the distributions and trends of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows to inform adaptive management of the plan and coordinated partner actions. The department shall submit a report to the legislature that describes the kelp forest and eelgrass meadow conservation priority areas, and monitoring approaches and findings, including success measures established in the plan. Beginning December 1, 2024, and by December 1st of each even-numbered year thereafter, the department shall provide the appropriate committees of the legislature and the office of financial management with:(i) An updated map of distributions and trends, and summary of success measures and findings, including relevant information from the prioritization process;(ii) An updated list summarizing potential stressors, prioritized areas, and corresponding coordinated actions and success measures. The summary must include any barriers to plan implementation and legislative or administrative recommendations to address those barriers;(iii) An update on the number of acres of kelp forests and eelgrass meadows conserved by region, including restoration or loss in priority areas; and(iv) An update on consultation with impacted tribal nations and local communities by region.

(4) In developing the plan, the department shall:(a) Consult impacted communities using the community engagement plan developed under RCW 70A.02.050; and(b) Invite input from federally recognized tribal nations on kelp forests and eelgrass meadows with important cultural and ecological values that are threatened by urbanization or other disturbances.

How do we stop tire debris from killing coho? NWTTM

Over the last decade science done at the UW has identified a chemical in our tires that leaches out as we drive and ends up killing salmon when it runs off into the lakes, rivers and bays of Puget Sound. This issue will require billions of dollars to fix, just as the culvert problem, created over the last 100 years of road building has done. But it must be done if we are to save coho in our waters.

This article, in the Northwest Treaty Tribes magazine does a good job of updating us on the issue and what is being done about it now.

We need to deal with these impacts immediately by filtering 6PPD-Q from
stormwater before it enters the water. The Nisqually Tribe is working with McIntyre, Long Live the Kings and the state Department of Transportation to develop a compostable biofiltration system on
Highway 7 where it crosses Ohop Creek. If we are successful, similar systems could be retrofitted along all roadways to remove this lethal, toxic chemical.

Northwest Treaty Tribes Magazine -2022 January

Read the whole story here: https://nwtreatytribes.org/publications/magazine/

Extreme Weather Threatens Salmon Recovery – NWTT Newsletter

More data coming in on the toll on salmon of last summer’s record hot weather.

After last summer’s record high temperatures and low water flow, Lummi Natural Resources staff discovered about 2,500 dead adult chinook in the South Fork Nooksack River.

Northwest Treaty Tribes Winter 2002

The NWTT newsletter is a great resource for stories on salmon recovery and other Salish Sea marine issues. This month, they include:

  • How do we stop tire debris from killing salmon?
  • Tribal Hatchery story
  • European Green Crab update
  • How beach restoration benefits Salmon and the Public
  • And the article on Climate Change Threatens Salmon Recovery

Check it out and sign up to get it yourself! Or keep reading here on the Olympic Peninsula Environmental News and we’ll give you the short story.

For the Northwest, climate change was hard to ignore in 2021 -KUOW

A good wrap up of the Northwest climate change in 2021. The photo in the article is a great example of what a flood plain is and why so many restoration projects (i.e. the Dungeness) are working to recover old flood plains. So many of them were used for farming (as in the Nooksack pictured) or just putting in housing, like on the Dungeness. Building dykes is a long term failure strategy for salmon and the people trying to live on the flood plain. As shown, the dykes just won’t protect you from climate change as we are seeing it unfold.

From heat domes to record-breaking rainfall, climate change was hard to ignore in Washington.As temperature records were shattered around the state in late June, the 911 calls poured in.

https://kuow.org/stories/climate-change-was-hard-to-ignore-for-the-northwest-in-2021

What we learned this year about human waste and Puget Sound – Crosscut

Well, I thought I was done for the year, but…”The waste that 4.5 million Seattle-area people flush affects shellfish, wastewater regulations and more.”

The ways we handle human waste before it reaches the sound can vary, but what we put into our bodies inevitably ends up there — later today, tomorrow or a century from now. In keeping with the New Year’s adage “out with the old, in with the new,” it’s good to consider: Just because waste is out of our bodies doesn’t mean it isn’t still actively affecting our lives.

https://crosscut.com/environment/2021/12/what-we-learned-year-about-human-waste-and-puget-sound

Support local journalism. Subscribe to Crosscut.

Postscripts 2021: Jerry Franklin is still standing up and speaking out for our old-growth forests – Seattle Times

The venerable professor from the U.W.is still hard at work promoting the science of old growth and second growth forests. Don’t know who he is? Follow the link below to the summary article and then follow the links in the article to read his writings.

Franklin was among the first to discover the unique ecological value of old-growth trees and forest ecosystems. He also was among a team of scientists whose work led to the protection of old growth on federal land in Washington, Oregon and Northern California through the implementation of the Northwest Forest Plan in 1994.

https://www.seattletimes.com/pacific-nw-magazine/postscripts-2021-jerry-franklin-is-still-standing-up-and-speaking-out-for-our-old-growth-forests/

EPA announces $34 million in Puget Sound funding

Really good news for the continued restoration of our waters. We are in for a long haul to get to a clean Sound. It’s taken 100+ years of destruction of our ecosystems. If it’s possible at all it will take another 100 to finish the job. Failure is not an option.

The National Estuary Program provides funds for state, local, tribal, and federal projects.


December 16, 2021 Contact Information Bill Dunbar (dunbar.bill@epa.gov) 206-553-1019 Suzanne Skadowski (skadowski.suzanne@epa.gov) 206-553-2160

SEATTLE (December 16, 2021) – The Northwest office of the Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it is providing over $34 million in grant funds to state, local, tribal, and federal partners for Puget Sound recovery and conservation efforts.

“Puget Sound is a national treasure with profound economic and cultural significance,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “These funds help build stronger partnerships and deliver results that are much-needed fuel for recovery of Puget Sound and the communities that depend on it. In addition to these grant funds, the $89 million slated for Puget Sound in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will accelerate this progress to secure tangible, concrete protections that will benefit local communities for generations.” 

These National Estuary Program funds support development and implementation of the Puget Sound Action Agenda – the five-year strategy for Puget Sound recovery – and work to meet tribal trust responsibilities and treaty obligations. These grants fund a diversity of work spanning from habitat protection, to finding and fixing sources of pollution, to cutting edge stormwater research, to tribal salmon restoration projects.

Recipients include three tribal consortia, 19 federally recognized tribes, the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, Washington’s Department of Ecology, Department of Health, Department of Fish and Wildlife, Department of Natural Resources, and Department of Commerce, the Puget Sound Partnership, Washington State University’s Stormwater Center, and the University of Washington’s Puget Sound Institute.

Since 2006, Congress has appropriated $419 million in Clean Water Act and geographic program funds for Puget Sound that EPA has used to help restore more than 50,000 acres of habitat and protect in excess of 150,000 acres of harvestable shellfish beds. These federal funds have leveraged nearly $2.1 billion of additional funds largely from the state of Washington.

In addition to grants, EPA experts partner with and provide their scientific and policy expertise to local, state, and tribal governments, industry and NGOs are involved in scientific research and restoration projects throughout the Puget Sound basin. The EPA Puget Sound Program also co-leads the Puget Sound Federal Task Force that works to coordinate federal programs and resources to support Puget Sound Recovery. To learn more about this inter-agency effort, see the recently posted November 2021 Progress Report.

Harnessing nature’s regenerative powers: more evidence that tree planting is not (always) the best solution

This interesting new research has just been published in Science Magazine, and the original research was done by over 80 scientists. The following is comment by Professor Jeff Ollerton who is one of the world’s leading experts on pollinators and pollination. Professor Ollerton is the author of more than 130 articles and book chapters. Could it also have some value here in the non-tropical rain forests of the Pacific NW?

An interesting study published this week in the journal Science has provided more evidence that natural regrowth of forests is faster and more efficient than tree planting for restoring habitats.

Harnessing nature’s regenerative powers: more evidence that tree planting is not (always) the best solution

Washington wildlife commissioner resigns, citing ‘politicized quagmire’ – Seattle Times and others

Fred Koontz, Ph.D. (photo by WDFW)

The ongoing feud between hunters and environmentalists continues to play out in the State Wildlife Commission. Wildlife Commissioner Dr. Fred Koontz has resigned due to the ugly nature of the debates and the inability to find common ground with the hunting coalition on the commission. Dr. Koontz was more interested in ensuring that decisions were made by looking at the science. He comes from more of a scientist/educator and may have underestimated the political nature of the position and the anger that is boiling over a perceived anti-hunting point of view. Why is this story important? Because the Wildlife Commission handles a wide range of issues:

The Commission establishes policies to preserve, protect, and perpetuate fish, wildlife, and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities compatible with healthy and diverse fish and wildlife populations.

From the WDFW website: https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/commission

The Commission in years gone by, was a stalwart sports hunting and fishing enclave, with a strong bent towards maximizing hunting and fishing and the licensing revenues it brings to State coffers. But the rise of endangered species and the growing scientific awareness of the many options in managing wild stocks, along with a declining amount of hunters and rising number of environmentally protective citizenry has changed the landscape. Those days of blanket support for sportsmen & women are tempered by new opinions that are not ready to simply rubber stamp the needs of sports over scientific baselines. An example is that recent science presented by pro bear hunt biologists in WDFW during the decision process were countered by independent research that Commissioner Koontz and other commissioners brought to the discussion. Their numbers were drastically different than state bear management staff, who claimed that they stood behind their numbers 100%. The lack of scientific agreement led to the latest impasse on opening the bear hunting season, which normally targets many sows with their cubs as they come out of hibernation. The science behind the number of sows and their lactating state at the time of their killing, caused a rift between the two groups on the Commission.

Koontz resigned saying:

“I accepted your appointment with the understanding that I would participate in the Commission’s supervising authority and policy-making to oversee the Fish & Wildlife Department’s actions. Unfortunately, I found that I had no meaningful role in protecting the public’s wildlife trust. The Commission is currently stuck in a politicized quagmire. We have largely lost the ability to have civil public conversations.”

Fred Koontz Resignation letter

I talked to another commissioner, Lorna Smith, who is from Jefferson County, about Fred’s resignation:

I’m very saddened over Fred’s departure. His voice of scientific reason was well appreciated. His ability to bring independent science to the discussions was always welcome . I have hope and confidence that the governor will realize that this impasse is not beneficial to Washington’s wildlife or it’s residents and will appoint commissioners quickly to the three open positions to help carry out his conservation goals.

Commissioner Lorna Smith

Commissioner Smith went on to urge people who care about the issue to contact the governor and urge him to see that the next appointment to the commission are made quickly have a broad conservation values.

Read one version of the story at the Seattle Times.

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/washington-wildlife-commissioner-resigns-citing-politicized-quagmire/


Also, a well written short piece in an online magazine devoted to hunting detailed some of the issues in more depth from their perspective:

https://freerangeamerican.us/washington-wildlife-commish-resigns/

The PDN reporter Michael Carmen also covered the appointment of Koontz and Smith in the Peninsula Daily News in January 2021. I referenced it in this blog. Here’s the link, but the story is behind a paywall. https://www.peninsuladailynews.com/sports/conservation-common-thread-for-new-members-of-washington-state-fish-and-wildlife-commission/


The Official Press Release from WDFW:

OLYMPIA – Washington Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Fred Koontz, Ph.D. sent a letter today to Gov. Jay Inslee resigning from the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission. Dr. Koontz resides in King County and occupied an “at-large” position of the Fish and Wildlife Commission.

Dr. Koontz was appointed on Jan. 5, 2021 by Gov. Inslee to a six-year term that was set to expire on Dec. 31, 2026.

“We appreciate Fred’s engagement and curious mind on the Commission,” said Fish and Wildlife Commission Chair Larry Carpenter. “He encouraged us to be bold in our mission and we enjoyed his passion for biodiversity conservation.”

The Commission is comprised of nine commissioners, including three members from west of the Cascade Mountains, three members from east of the Cascade Mountains, and three “at-large” members who may reside anywhere in the state. No two Commission members may reside in the same county.

There are now two vacancies on the Commission. Gov. Inslee will need to appoint an “at-large” position and an Eastern Washington position. (Fred’s resignation makes that three vacancies)

Commission appointees are subject to confirmation by the state Senate, which will reconvene in January 2022. However, members are official upon appointment and serve as voting members on the Commission while awaiting Senate confirmation.

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is a panel appointed by the governor that sets policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). WDFW works to preserve, protect and perpetuate fish, wildlife and ecosystems while providing sustainable fish and wildlife recreational and commercial opportunities. 

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