As salmon vanish in the dry Pacific Northwest, so does Native heritage – Washington Post

A good overview of the issues for the general public. Most of us are aware of salmon, their life cycles and the tribes that rely on them. But if you know someone that lives elsewhere and is unaware of the issues, this is a good starting point. Done by a well known environmental writer from the East Coast.

As a drought tightens its grip on the Pacific Northwest, burning away mountain snow and warming rivers, state officials and Native American tribes are becoming increasingly worried that one of the region’s most precious resources — wild salmon — might disappear. Native Americans, who for centuries have relied on salmon for food and ceremonial rituals, say the area’s five species of salmon have been declining for years, but the current threat is worse than anything they have seen. Darrly Fears reports. (Washington Post)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/as-salmon-vanish-in-the-dry-pacific-northwest-so-does-native-heritage/2015/07/30/2ae9f7a6-2f14-11e5-8f36-18d1d501920d_story.html

Kuterra aquaculture by ‘Namgis First Nation raises hope for wild salmon— and some hackles – National Observer

An update on the attempt to create a financially viable closed-containment aquaculture in BC. Ramifications for the Olympic Peninsula because of the push to bring open water net pens to the Straits and expand use in the Sound continues.

The ’Namgis First Nation, with advice and support from a large number of groups, including Tides Canada, conservation groups, and funding agencies, has launched Kuterra, a land-based, “closed-containment” aquaculture project that keeps their Atlantic salmon out of contact with the larger marine ecosystem.

http://www.nationalobserver.com/2015/07/23/news/kuterra-aquaculture-%E2%80%98namgis-first-nation-raises-hope-wild-salmon%E2%80%94-and-some-hackles

Sport fishing ban in place over parts of South Coast due to drought – CBC

Bringing global warming home to B.C…

The province is suspending sport fishing in streams and rivers throughout most of the South Coast of B.C. due to warming water temperatures and low river and stream levels. The move follows a similar ban on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands where recreational angling was suspended earlier this month. The ban on South Coast fishing takes effect July 22 to September 30. Fishing is banned in most rivers and streams in regions south of Toba Inlet in the north to the U.S. border in the south. (CBC)

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/sport-fishing-ban-in-place-over-parts-of-south-coast-due-to-drought-1.3160846

Puget Sound steelhead management input sought – The Olympian

If you are involved in fishing and interested in salmon management, here’s an opportunity for you to volunteer your input.

The public’s input is being on sought on the selection of at least three Puget Sound rivers where hatchery steelhead would not be released. The wild steelhead management zones would be an additional effort by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife to conserve wild fish.

http://www.theolympian.com/outdoors/article27159301.html

State money to fix salmon blocking culverts falls far short – Seattle Times

Our legislators have again short changed legally mandated environmental funding. This one is for a critical but largely unseen problem that affects salmon spawning habitat, culverts. We likely will be fixing this through the end of the century, if global warming hasn’t wiped them out of the range.

A federal judge has told the state that it must find a way to come up with $2.4 billion to repair culverts that are barriers to migrating salmon.

http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/state-money-to-fix-salmon-blocking-culverts-falls-far-short/

Strong pink salmon run expected in 2015, as well as chinook in the ocean and Columbia River – Olympian

Good news for Chinook, less so for Coho.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife Monday in Olympia released the forecasts for salmon runs in Puget Sound, Pacific Ocean and Columbia River.… Slightly more than 900,000 fall chinook are expected to return to the Columbia River this year. That would be the third largest run on record since 1938, said Ron Roler, Columbia River policy coordinator. The ocean abundance of Columbia River coho this year is expected to be nearly 777,000 fish, down from 964,000 last year. Jeffrey P. Mayor reports. (Olympian)

http://www.theolympian.com/2015/03/02/3603215_state-salmon-forecst-meeting-underway.html

Puget Sound salmon face more ups and downs in river flows – Phys.org

Good news and concerning news from some recent science.

Many salmon rivers around Puget Sound have experienced increasing fluctuations in flow over the past 60 years, just as climate change projections predict – and that’s unfortunate news for threatened Chinook salmon, according to a new analysis of salmon survival and river flow. More pronounced fluctuations in flow can scour away salmon eggs and exhaust young fish, especially when lower flows force adult fish to lay eggs in more exposed areas in the center of the channel. The new study published in the peer-reviewed journal Global Change Biology says such increased flow variability has the most negative effect on salmon populations of several climate factors considered. (Phys.org)

http://phys.org/news/2015-02-puget-salmon-ups-downs-river.html

Chinook salmon could be wiped out by 2100, new study claims -CBC

Whether or not this research is correct, the general trend does not look good for Chinook. On the Dungeness River, for example, even with 25 years of recovery work, they are not seeing Chinook return as expected. In Canada, the huge growth of Vancouver, the vast clear-cutting and mining going on in spawning streams coupled with a lack of any enforcement in protecting those streams and rivers  seems to be a precursor to the kind of destruction of habitat as Western Washington witnessed a few decades ago.

New climate-change research involving a University of British Columbia scientist predicts that one of the West Coast’s most prized salmon stocks could be wiped out over the next 85 years. A study has concluded that there is a five per cent chance of a catastrophic loss of the chinook salmon by 2075, and a 98 per cent chance the population will suffer catastrophic losses by 2100, if climate change warms the water. An international research team looked at the ability by the chinook to adapt to warming water temperatures caused by climate change. (Canadian Press)

http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/chinook-salmon-could-be-wiped-out-by-2100-new-study-claims-1.2881635

Dungeness watershed projects get a funding boost – Sequim Gazette

And closer to home (from the previous article), work being done by the Dungeness River Management Team which includes a diverse group of people (including Tribes) to push forward to keep restoring the lower portions of the Dungeness.

Efforts at the Dungeness River watershed to reduce flood risk, conserve water and restore habitat will push forward into next year after receiving $7.5 million in state funding through the Floodplains By Design initiative. The grant administered by Adam Sant for the Washington Department of Ecology allows for officials with the North Olympic Salmon Coalition, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, Clallam Conservation District, Clallam County and the North Olympic Lead Entity for Salmon to continue their collaborative work on the lower Dungeness restoration project. (Sequim Gazette)

 http://www.sequimgazette.com/news/284687621.html

For background on this, I was commissioned to produce a video on the overall work of the DRMT by the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe last year. If you want to see it, go to their site, and choose either the long or short version from the right hand side.

http://home.olympus.net/~dungenesswc/

Lyre River Property Purchased for Conservation Area

Great news from the North Olympic Land Trust. If you have not been to the Lyre, it’s a beautiful small river out west of PA.
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A 280-acre property that is important to several salmon species and wildlife will be permanently conserved, thanks to its recent purchase by North Olympic Land Trust. The property abuts the Lyre River on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, about 20 miles west of Port Angeles. This property features an important estuary at the mouth of the Lyre River, streams, wetlands, tidelands, kelp beds and bluff-backed beaches. It also includes a large upland area with a diverse forest at various ages of growth.

“The Land Trust has been working with community partners for years to conserve this property,” said North Olympic Land Trust Board President Karen Westwood of Sequim. “This is the largest land protection project in the Land Trust’s almost 25-year history and will be a terrific place for the community to enjoy local forests and shoreline.”

The Land Trust and local partners bought the property with grants from the state’s Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration (PSAR) Fund, Marine Shoreline Protection Fund, and Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program. The Land Trust also contributed its own money. The previous land owner has also provided a donation to pay for ongoing stewardship of the property. Critical partners include the North Olympic Peninsula Lead Entity, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Puget Sound Partnership, the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, and the Makah Tribe.

This project was ranked eighth among regional large-scale capital projects for 2013-15 PSAR funding by the Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Council. This ranking was based on impact to salmon recovery, project readiness, and how the individual project would advance Puget Sound Action Agenda targets.

Planning is underway for the use of the property. Visitors will be able to park about a mile from the beach and walk in from there. Visitors can enjoy day-use activities such as birdwatching, wildlife viewing, surfing, picnicking, and beach walking. The area will be closed to all motor vehicles.

This property purchase is a win not only for the community, but also for the mission of the Land Trust: conservation of open spaces, local food, local resources, healthy watersheds and recreational opportunities. Long-term goals of the Land Trust are to conserve lands that sustain the ecological and economic vitality of the communities of Clallam County.

The Lyre property includes the 3,000th acre that the Land Trust has conserved in Clallam County. This property will join other areas permanently conserved by the Land Trust through ownership, including properties on Elk Creek, Siebert Creek, and the Pysht River. The Land Trust also conserves land through voluntary conservation easements with private landowners. These agreements are in place on properties across the county, from the Bogachiel River to the Miller Peninsula.

This purchase pushes the value of total land conservation by the Land Trust to more than $14 million since 2007. For every unrestricted dollar donated by supporters to run the Land Trust, the organization has conserved $16 of land in Clallam County.

Record North Pacific temperatures threatening B.C. marine species – CBC

Global warming continues, with no concensus by the leaders of the planet to do anything quickly, if at all. The recent agreement between the US and China won’t do anything for decades, if it even is acted on by our Congress, which is unlikely.

The North Pacific Ocean is setting record high temperatures this year and raising concerns about the potential impact on cold water marine species along the B.C. coast, including salmon. Ocean surface temperatures around the world this year reached the highest temperature ever recorded, due in large part to the normally chilly North Pacific, which was three to four degrees above average — far beyond any recorded value. Bill Peterson, an oceanographer with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said the warmth along the North Pacific coast is very unusual. (CBC)

 http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/record-north-pacific-temperatures-threatening-b-c-marine-species-1.2845662

Death by dirty water: Storm runoff a risk for fish  – Bellingham Herald

As if you needed to better understand the importance of rain gardens, stormwater runoff and salmon, after my last post, here’s the next thing in my inbox. Another recent experiment that shows the affects that stormwater has on aquatic species.

Just hours into the experiment, the prognosis was grim for salmon that had been submerged in rain runoff collected from one of Seattle’s busiest highways. One by one, the fish were removed from a tank filled with coffee-colored water and inspected: They were rigid. Their typically red gills were gray….. This was the fate of coho salmon exposed to the everyday toxic brew of dirt, metals, oil and other gunk that washes off highway pavement after rains and directly into Puget Sound. Phuong Le reports. (Associated Press)

http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2014/11/16/3977239_scientists-study-stormwater-deadly.html

Fish migrate into upper Elwha River for first time in century – PDN

And so nature continues to heal itself, with a bit of dynamite help from us.

Fish have migrated into the upper Elwha River for the first time in a century.  Olympic National Park biologists confirmed last week that two radio-tagged bull trout had migrated from the lower river through the former area of Glines Canyon Dam and reached at least as far as Rica Canyon above the former Lake Mills, some 15½ miles from the mouth of the Elwha River.  Four bull trout had been detected earlier as they passed a telemetry station upriver from the former Glines dam.  Leah Leach reports. (Peninsula Daily News)

Read the rest of the story at

http://peninsuladailynews.com/article/20140907/NEWS/309079918/fish-migrate-into-upper-elwha-river-for-first-time-in-century

Support local journalism. Subscribe to the PDN.

Agencies review Puget Sound hatchery plans – Tacoma News Tribune

This has been a highly contentious issue, with lawsuits by environmental groups trying to stop all hatchery releases and the sports fishermen and the Tribes opposed to that. The environmental groups have very solid science showing that when you compare rivers like the Skagit and the declines over 70 years to almost no steelhead, with similar rivers in Oregon, like the Umpqua, which have seen virtually no change in steelhead production over the same period in time with no hatchery fish released, it begs the question of ‘why not ban all hatchery fish for a 10 year period?” The courts seem inclined to go along with that arguement. For some of the Tribes and the sports fishermen, it  seems as if science doesn’t matter, and that they want to fish to the last wild fish. They may get their wish. As one scientist said at hearings in Olympia on this last spring, “Without wild steelhead, you will not have hatchery fish.” So if you lose the wild run, it’s game over. 

How Puget Sound fish hatcheries will operate in the future could be determined by an environmental impact statement now being developed. As part of that process, NOAA Fisheries is holding public workshops this week to discuss the draft environmental impact statement that assesses alternative operations of salmon and steelhead hatcheries around the Sound. The proposed action alternative in the draft would operate hatcheries under two state and tribal resource management plans developed jointly by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and Puget Sound treaty tribes, according to a NOAA news release. The proposed action would maintain hatchery production at current levels. Jeffrey P. Mayor reports. (Tacoma News Tribune)

http://www.thenewstribune.com/2014/09/03/3359645_agencies-review-puget-sound-hatchery.html

Update on the Elwha Dam Removal – PDN

Report on the river now that the final dam has been blasted away. Still some cleanup but the end is in sight. 

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20140828/NEWS/308289985/now-that-the-dam-is-gone-debris-lingers-on-the-newly-freed-elwha

Thoughts on the Mount Polley Tailing Mines Disaster – What it means to us

The ongoing nightmare on Quesnel Lake from the Mount Polley Tailing “Pond”, has huge ramifications for us in Washington State and the Olympic Peninsula. This fiasco is being whitewashed by the politicians from both the Provincial and the Federal level in Canada. The official line is ‘it’s not that bad” when the truth is it’s likely far worse than anyone imagines. Huge amounts of highly toxic materials, including the possibility of radioactive material (that is now being discussed in official circles), pose grave downstream risks to the Salish Sea  and the wildlife that passes through it on their way elsewhere.

The primary talked about toxin in this stew is mercury. Lots of it. It’s used in this kind of mining and ends up being a by-product that can’t be removed,  just managed. We already deal with mercury in our fish, to a manageable degree, and it’s affects are well known and avoided. However, without knowing how much mercury might be in the tailings that are now in the Lake, the government has been suggesting that there is nothing to fear from the water. Let’s be clear, mercury ingested in significant amounts can cause Minamata’s Disease. Look it up on Wikipedia. It was highlighted in a Pulitzer Prize winning article in Life Magazine in the 1970s, photographed by Eugene Smith, when an entire village in Minamata Japan suffered from horrible birth defects because of unregulated mercury poisoning. The Canadian Government is putting it’s people at serious risk by inaction. And us too. 

To quote part of the Wikipedia article:

Symptoms (of mercury poisoning and Minamata Disease) includeataxianumbness in the hands and feet, general muscle weakness, narrowing of the field of vision, and damage tohearing and speech. In extreme cases, insanityparalysiscoma, and death follow within weeks of the onset of symptoms. A congenital form of the disease can also affect foetuses in the womb.

All these were experienced in Japan in the 70s in Minamata. 

And this is just one of the toxins that was contained behind this tailing dam. 

Without immediate work to setup coffer dams and drain the areas around the spill in Quesnel Lake, we may see a huge amount of mercury, along with other toxins, enter the Salish Sea,  and undoubtably affect the Sockeye that come out of Quesnel, one of the largest sockeye spawning habitat in Canada.

These fish make up the primary food of the remaining local pods of Orcas. And our fishermen catch them and we eat them. Lots of them. In other words, our fishing industry and our Orcas could be at risk.

We need our politicians to act now, to demand that the Canadian government stop pretending this not a serious problem and begin cleanup of this spill. There has been to date, no work begun on cleaning up the spill! (as of Sunday August 24)

This is not just about the lame excuses that Victoria and their muzzled scientists gives us about how they think their untreated sewage is not affecting the Straits. This is about possibly poisoning our fish and ourselves. And if we don’t stop it soon, it may be permanent. An oozing toxic mess that’s not cleaned up will pose a threat for decades to come. Just ask the folks at Hanford. The  comments coming from high level government Canadian officials are true doublespeak.  To be clear, the simplest way of understanding this is that if the massive amounts of tailing waste were not a danger to human health and the environment why are they held behind these ponds in the first place? It’s because they have been proven, for over 100 years, to be very harmful, if not deadly, to plants and animals, including us! There is no ‘lucky break’ (as stated by a senior government official) in a dump of this magnitude, there is only a bad outcome of various magnitudes.

The mine managers and the regulators that refused to enforce the laws, have created an environmental disaster of monumental proportion that has yet to fully unfold. What matters now is protecting the entire river systems that will carry this muck to the ocean. And protect the drinking water that might be pulled out of the river for human consumption. 

What’s the possibility of the US having a significant say in this issue? Read the following excellent article about our treaties with Canada, and the power that we have to force them to change legally. And remember that it’s because we have a Democratic, environmentally supportive president that we can read something like this. In a different previous era, our government would likely have been looking the other way in support of rampant environmental degradation.

Stephen Hume: Political fallout from Mount Polley mine spill may come from U.S.

Obama Administration Finalizes Stronger Stream Buffers to Protect Imperiled Salmon from Pesticides

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/08/13/18759976.php

The Environmental Protection Agency today finalized an agreement to restore no-spray buffer zones around waterways to protect imperiled salmon and steelhead from five toxic pesticides.

A coalition of conservation organizations, advocates for alternatives to pesticides, and fishing groups cheered the victory. These groups brought a lawsuit to demand reasonable fish protections from the insecticides, some of which are derived from nerve toxins developed during World War II….

The buffers apply to salmon habitat throughout California, Oregon, and Washington to prohibit aerial spraying of broad-spectrum pesticides diazinon, chlorpyrifos, malathion, carbaryl, and methomyl within 300 feet of salmon habitat and prohibit ground-based applications within 60 feet.

 

The agreement provides detailed notice to state regulators, pesticide applicators, farmers, and the public about the required no-spray buffer zones. These buffers will remain in place until the National Marine Fisheries Service completes analyses of the impacts of these five pesticides on the fish. Then, the EPA must implement permanent protections grounded in the Fisheries Service’s findings. (Indymedia)

US Senators: Lax Canadian mine regulation endangers our salmon. Seattle PI

Our Senators speak out against the ongoing environmental degradation that the Federal government of Canada and the Provinces are engaged in. Showing the link to salmon.

Salmon runs and spawning streams shared by the U.S. and Canada could be threatened by big Canadian mining developments and the lax regulatory climate that led to British Columbia’s Mount Polley environmental disaster, two U.S. senators warned Monday. “We have to show these people that salmon know no boundaries,” Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said while touring facilities at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Joel Connelly reports. (SeattlePI.Com)

http://blog.seattlepi.com/seattlepolitics/2014/08/11/lax-canadian-mine-regulation-endangers-u-s-salmon-senators/#25734101=0

Recent Study Confirms Lower Reproductive Success For Hatchery Fish- More Research Needed

From the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife News Bulletin….Science continues to find that hatcheries, were probably not as good an idea as others.

Still, the one constant in all the studies reviewed by researchers from Oregon State University and NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center is that these programs result in lower reproductive success of fish whose early life begins in a hatchery.

“One important finding of this study is how consistent the results were across different systems. There has been a tendency to view each study’s results in isolation, but when you combine them all together the pattern of reduced reproductive success across all the studies is pretty clear,” said Michael Ford, co-author of the study and director of the Northwest Fisheries Science Center’s Conservation Biology Division in Seattle…”

Read the rest of the story at

http://www.cbbulletin.com/431691.aspx

 

Fishing report from the PDN

Wondering how the salt water fishing is going? Here’s todays’ report from the PDN.

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20140801/NEWS/308019985

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