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News and Updates from Washington Trout
Wild Fish Runs is a bi-monthly publication for WT members and supporters to provide program updates and networking assistance. WT is a conservation-ecology organization dedicated to the preservation and recovery of Washington’s wild fish and the habitat they depend on. Since 1989, WT has sought to improve conditions for all of Washington’s wild fish through research, advocacy, and habitat restoration. Washington Trout is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.
PO Box 402
15629 Main St NE
Duvall, WA 98019
Want to get more involved with Washington Trout? WT appreciates your support and can use your volunteer help in a number of ways including the annual WT auction, educational programs, mailing and office assistance, staffing booths at public events, and participating in membership campaigns and other special events. Please contact Kristen Durance at Kristen@washingtontrout.org if you would like to volunteer or have an event you would like mentioned in Wild Fish Runsor on the website!
Washington Trout is raffling this beautiful 15’, 36” wide Chestnut Canoe, hand built and donated by Bill and Trudy Kindler. This gorgeous boat is hand laid from strips of reclaimed western red cedar, and trimmed in Honduras mahogany, Alaskan yellow cedar, and Peruvian walnut, with natural, hand caned seats, and brass fittings. It comes with two ash paddles hand made by the Shaw and Tenney Company, regarded as the gold standard in canoe paddles.
The boat is valued at over $3,000. Tickets are $5 each or get 5 tickets for only $20 and the drawing will be held on April 2, 2007. All proceeds will support Washington Trout research and conservation initiatives. Click here for more information.
On June 27, Washington Trout submitted comments to NOAA Fisheries supporting a proposal to list Puget Sound steelhead as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. In September 2004, Sam Wright of Olympia Washington filed a petition to list PS steelhead as either threatened or endangered. In April 2005 NOAA accepted the petition and assembled a Biological Review Team (BRT) to review the status of PS steelhead and make recommendations. On March 29 2006, NOAA announced its proposed listing. A final determination on the proposal is due in March 2007.
Puget Sound steelhead populations have suffered recent and dramatic declines in abundance, productivity, distribution, and diversity in nearly every watershed from the Nooksack in the far north Sound all the way around to the Elwha on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Estimates of the total historical run size range from over 300,000 to nearly a million steelhead. Today, total spawning escapement has shrunk to 13,000 fish, and in most years none of the populations meet their escapement goals, pushing PS steelhead to what the BRT called a “quasi-extinction threshold.”
Washington Trout prepared and submitted to the BRT an analysis demonstrating that the five largest populations of winter-run steelhead in Puget Sound have all experienced a sharp and strongly coherent decline in abundance, recruitment, and productivity beginning around 1989 and continuing to the present. The coherence and severity of the trend among five populations spanning a large portion of the range of PS steelhead suggests a widespread decline among all steelhead populations in the Sound.
NOAA identified the loss and degradation of steelhead habitat and the adverse ecological and genetic impacts from steelhead hatchery programs as the leading factors limiting the viability of PS steelhead. They concluded that unless PS steelhead are listed threatened, they were “likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future,” and that present protective measures are not adequately mitigating the current threats to PS steelhead populations.
Washington Trout agrees, and recommended that NOAA Fisheries finalize a determination to list PS steelhead as a threatened species under the ESA. With a few exceptions, we found the Proposed Listing thorough, objective, and for the most part accurate and scientifically defensible. Washington Trout does not support NOAA’s policy for listing hatchery fish, and so does not support the proposal to include “Green River natural” and “Hamma Hamma winter-run” hatchery steelhead in the listing. We are also concerned that NOAA’s decision not to list resident rainbow trout populations with PS steelhead will fail to adequately conserve resident populations that evidence suggests could be essential for the recovery of PS steelhead populations.
Read the full text of WT’s comments.
The November 2005 edition of Wild Fish Runs outlined Washington Trout’s concerns with the City of Carnation’s proposed wastewater treatment plant. King County planned to construct and operate the facility for the City, planned to discharge the effluent into the Snoqualmie River at the “Chinook Bend” natural area. This reach of the river is a spawning area for chum, pink, and threatened Puget Sound chinook salmon. The plant would be operational by the end of 2007, and at full capacity would discharge 450,000 gallons per day of treated effluent into this ecologically important reach of the Snoqualmie.
Between November and February 2006, WT attempted to reach an agreement with King County where the treated effluent could be discharged into a created or enhanced wetland, rather than directly into the river. Those efforts were unsuccessful. In late February, King County granted a shorelines permit to itself allowing construction of the facility. Washington Trout appealed the permit to the Shorelines Hearing Board and also filed suit in federal district court over the “no significant impact” decision made by EPA under NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) on the grant of federal funds for the project.
In response, King County proposed a mediated negotiation. In April, we reached an agreement that WT believes will better protect the wild fish of the Snoqualmie, but only after many hours of intense negotiating. In fact, final details were settled in the lobby of the building after management had asked us to leave hours before. King County ultimately agreed to vigorously work towards getting the permits to discharge the effluent into an enhanced (currently degraded) wetland at the Chinook Bend natural area. The wetland enhancement should be functional shortly after the plant is operational. Once the wetland discharge is functional, discharges to the river will occur only for routine maintenance and in the months when juvenile salmon are less sensitive to trace pollutants. The county will also conduct monitoring of the Snoqualmie downstream of Carnation in order to better determine the effects of stormwater discharges brought about by the increased development of Carnation. WT will partner with King County on most aspects of the monitoring. WT was represented in the appeal and negotiaons by Smith and Lowney, LLC.
There are no easy solutions when it comes to new development. Washington’s Growth Management Act and King County’s comprehensive plan outline that development should be concentrated into urban growth areas rather than “sprawl” across our rural lands. That doesn’t mean that the resulting development is cost-free. We will be monitoring the effects of the increased development in order to protect the wild fish of the Snoqualmie River. Our efforts on this issue were made possible through the generosity of a WT member concerned about the plant and the increased development in Carnation.
Frank Staller, Washington Trout Field Biologist, measures a juvenile cutthroat trout encountered in a small unnamed stream located to the northeast of Olympia in Thurston County.
In spring 2005 Washington Trout received funding from the Salmon Recovery Funding Board to perform a watertype assessment in North Thurston County. Project objectives are fivefold:
In addition to ensuring that the best available science is used to protect fish habitats under existing laws, this assessment will fill data gaps regarding non road-related fish passage issues (diversion dams, withdrawal systems, etc.) and fish species composition and distribution – information needed to responsibly identify, prioritize, and implement effective and science-based restoration projects in the area. This assessment will also lead to the direct identification of restoration and protection opportunities within the study watersheds.
Frank Staller, Washington Trout Field Biologist, documents the channel width of a small unnamed stream located to the northeast of Olympia in Thurston County.
During spring 2005, Washington Trout completed watertype inventories on Cooper Point, the peninsula immediately to the west of downtown Olympia. On this point of land, Thurston County had identified seven watersheds, the WDFW Stream Catalog (1975) identified seven watersheds, and the Washington Department of Natural Resources identified twenty-four watersheds. Using data provided to the project by Thurston County, and after performing on-the-ground surveys, Washington Trout mapped and classified 37 separate watersheds (each with a mouth at saltwater). Many of these watersheds meet the physical and/or biological criteria to receive protection as fish-bearing waters. We have documented what appears to be a thriving population of native Olympic Mudminnow (Novumbra hubbsi, aState Species of Concern) in the upper Green Cove Creek watershed. Other species encountered during the surveys include coastal cutthroat trout, coho salmon, prickly sculpin, and lamprey.
This spring, Washington is continuing the project by performing watertype field assessments on Dofflemyer Point, the point of land immediately to the northeast of Olympia, and on the Steamboat Island Peninsula located further to the west of Olympia. As with the Cooper Point inventory, the field crew is documenting many more fish bearing streams than are presently shown on the County and State regulatory maps. Of particular interest, Washington Trout documented a juvenile chinook salmon in one very small watershed on the north end of Dofflemyer Point – it is as yet unclear whether the fish or the crew was more surprised by the event. Similarly surprising, we observed coho smolts of hatchery origin in the same and in an adjacent watershed, at locations where the channel was no more than three feet wide. The motivation of these fishes’ choice of habitats is as yet unknown; Washington Trout is increasingly vigilant for additional examples of fish “breaking the rules” and not behaving as previous studies and the associated literature anticipate.
Pump facility and outfall net viewed from Cherry Creek.
WT’s Eliot Drucker and Mark Hersh inspect steelhead smolts for injury after pump passage.
Washington Trout, in partnership with the Snoqualmie Tribe, King County Drainage District #7, WDFW and NOAA Fisheries, has undertaken a three-year monitoring study of a renovated pump facility on lower Cherry Creek. A primary purpose of the study is to assess the effectiveness of newly installed Hidrostal (screw impeller) pumps in safely transporting fish from modified tributaries and a network of drainage ditches on the Cherry Valley floodplain to mainstem Cherry Creek.
In May, WT measured survival, injury and mortality rates in juvenile hatchery salmonids (provided by WDFW) introduced into a single Hidrostal pump discharging into Cherry Creek. Separate trials were run with steelhead smolts (fish averaging 8 inches in length), coho smolts (mean 5 inches) and young-of-year coho (mean 2 inches) at low and high pump speeds (650 and 870 rpm, respectively).
A result from the initial data analysis is that fish survival immediately after pumping ranged from 53% to 98% in the 23 pump trials performed. Fish mortality assessed immediately after pump passage was less than 5% on average in all groups, although higher mortality rates were associated with the higher pump speed. Fish injury, including bruising, abrasion, laceration, and loss of equilibrium, ranged from 4% to 37%, with the higher rates associated with larger fish.
The monitoring plan included an evaluation of delayed mortality (i.e. fish death stemming from pump-related injury but occurring hours or days after pump passage) by holding and examining pumped survivors for 96 hours. This assessment, however, was confounded by an as yet undefined water quality problem in the Cherry Valley floodplain tributary where fish were held. Preliminary water quality testing performed by King County indicated low dissolved oxygen levels at several sites within this tributary.
A key objective of this project is to communicate the results to resource managers in the Snohomish basin and throughout Washington State. The Hidrostal pump technology is relatively new, and its use in fish-passage facilities in Washington is currently limited. There are, however, numerous opportunities for agricultural production districts to retrofit existing “macerating” pump facilities with more fish-friendly pumps to improve fish passage. A formal report of this study will be made available from WT in 2006 to help inform management decisions.
Typical bruising injuries in juvenile steelhead (left) and coho (right) resulting from pump passage.
Mary Lou White, collecting water chemistry data behind a fyke net in Lake Hancock.
Washington Trout crews have continued fish-use sampling in nearshore marine habitat along the western coast of Whidbey Island this winter and spring. As always we are encountering interesting and exciting fish species that demonstrate the biodiversity of Puget Sound, and collecting important data regarding nearshore habitat usage by juvenile salmonids.
During May and June, the peak of juvenile-salmonid presence in the western nearshore of Whidbey Island, project investigators have expanded the number of sites sampled. This will allow for analyses of the effect of specific structural and geographic habitat variables on juvenile salmonid densities in the nearshore. These analyses will be conducted by Thomas Buehrens, currently completing studies in biology and environmental studies at Bowdoin University in Maine; his contributions to the project are being funded through a Doherty Coastal Studies Fellowship. The results of this work will help to prioritize coastal habitats in Island County for protection and restoration.
ThePacific spiny lumpsucker (Eumicrotremus orbis) an example of the tremendous biodiversity of the Puget Sound nearshore
Some of the species encountered this year include the Pacific spiny lumpsucker, a species of snailfish that attaches itself to rocks or vegetation with a ventral sucking disk, and juvenile ling cod, an important species for both commercial and recreational fisheries from California to Alaska.
Dana Trethewy was hired in May to take over duties as WT’s Geographic Information Systems specialist. Dana will be responsible for all GIS analyses and cartography related to WT research, restoration, and advocacy initiatives, and she will provide technology support for field efforts and for WT’s local network of workstations, laptops, and server. Dana will oversee a network-infrastructure upgrade that will include new file and web hosting servers.
Dana comes to WT from Natural Resource Consultants in Laguna Beach CA, where she was a GIS Specialist/Biologist, researching and preparing documentation for environmental and planning analyses, biological resource studies, endangered species surveys, developing habitat restoration and monitoring plans, and providing IT support. Previously she was employed at Environmental Systems Research Institute in Redlands, CA.
“I’m really looking forward to working at Washington Trout,” says Dana. “I know I’m going to have a great time.”
Josh was hired in spring 2006 primarily to join WT investigators on the west Whidbey Island nearshore fish-use assessment. He will help with beach seining, fish identification, data entry, and data analysis. As necessary, Josh will contribute to other research and restoration projects, conduction spawning surveys, growth studies, fish population monitoring, and habitat restoration. He will develop and submit grant proposals, help design and monitor projects, develop reports, and present research findings.
Josh earned a BS from the School of Aquatic and Fisheries Science at the University of Washington in 2004, and he experts to complete his Master’s degree at the University of Alaska by August 2006. His thesis explores relationships between adult survival, early marine growth and biophysical variables for a population of coastal coho salmon in Southeast Alaska.
“I’m thrilled about this opportunity,” says Josh, “I’m looking forward to continuing to learn about Pacific salmon and trout through field-based research, while supporting the overall effort to effectively conserve wild populations in Washington state.”
Aileen was hired in the spring of 2006 to staff the WT Store on the weekends. She was born and raised in Washington and loves the outdoors. These days most of her time is spent at school or working, but she loves to fill in the gaps with photography, hiking, skiing, trying to finish a towering stack of non-school related books, and going to concerts.
Aileen is currently a student at the University of Washington and is majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies, with an emphasis on Science, Technology and the Environment. “Simply put, I’m an Environmental Science student,” says Aileen. “Going into this field has made me more of an aware and environmentally conscious person. I hope to create better awareness and education for the public and to assist in conservation efforts. Working for Washington Trout has been one of the best experiences in putting my education into use. The people behind this organization are incredibly hardworking, knowledgeable, excellent teachers, and very good at what they do. Everyday that I get to work in the store or volunteer out in the field gives me more affirmation for how great Washington Trout's cause is and what important work they do.”
WT is excited to have Aileen on board and hopes that if you are in the Duvall area on a Saturday that you will stop on in to the WT Store and say hello.
WT is looking for a crew to help staff our booth at this year’s Stillaguamish Festival of the River near Arlington. This two day festival is designed to “help people who live and work in the Stillaguamish Watershed and surrounding regions understand how their actions can help make their environment cleaner for people, fish and wildlife.” Last year our booth was one of the festival’s most popular and over the course of the two days, WT staff answered questions on water quality issues, how to protect habitat and how to identify different species of salmon and trout.
This year we hope to continue that tradition with our wild fish booth where children will be able to make our salmon “fish hats” made popular by the WT Environmental Discovery Program. We also hope to have available our model watershed where we can answer questions on how everyday actions effect fish in your watershed. The festival is a lot of fun with two packed days of entertainment, booths and activities including a free show by Toad the Wet Sprocket. For anyone who is interested in volunteering both days, there is free camping at the park right along the Stillaguamish River. Last year we had a great time camping out after Saturday’s booth activities and enjoyed a swim in the river the next morning.
This event is not possible without help from our wonderful volunteers and this year we need you. If you are interested in volunteering either Saturday or Sunday (or both days!) please contact WT’s Outreach Coordinator, Kristen Durance at 425/788-1167 or by email. The booth will be open from 10am to 6pm each day with additional help needed in the morning on Saturday and the evening on Sunday to set-up and take apart the booth.
Hope to see you in August!
Washington Trout is excited to announce our new electronics recycling program. Working with our partner, Recycling for Charities, you are now able to drop off cell phones, pagers, PDAs (Palm Pilots), MP3 players and digital cameras at the WT Store in Duvall for recycling. We will gladly accept any make or model of these small electronic devices even if they are no longer in working condition. WT will then send the devices to Recycling for Charities who will refurbish or recycle each unit and share a portion of the proceeds with Washington Trout.
Studies have consistently shown that electronic waste from devices like mobile phones, PDA's and digital cameras contains toxins, like lead, arsenic and mercury that are damaging to our environment. By recycling these devices you are helping to protect our environment and supporting Washington Trout’s work to conserve Washington’s wild-fish ecosystems.
If you would like to set-up a collection box in your workplace, neighborhood or other location please contact WT Outreach Coordinator, Kristen Durance at 425/788-1167 or by email. We will gladly arrange pick up donations of ten or more items in the Seattle area if you are unable to get to the WT Store in Duvall. This recycling program is another great way to help WT raise much needed funds for our work to preserve, protect and restore wild-fish ecosystems.