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Read this newsletter with photos and video clips, as well as past issues on our website: www.washingtontrout.org/newsletters.shtml
Wild Fish Runs, May 2003
News and updates from Washington Trout
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Wild Fish Runs is a bi-monthly publication for Washington Trout’s members and supporters to provide program updates and networking assistance. Washington Trout is a conservation-ecology organization dedicated to the preservation and recovery of Washington’s wild fish and the habitat they depend on. Since 1989, Washington Trout 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.
Out in the Field:
The 2003 field season has begun and Washington Trout’s crews are hard at work on several projects throughout King County and Western Washington. While it is too early in the field season to report preliminary results from these projects, here is a quick reminder of some of the places you could find us:
** Watertyping 28 south King County watersheds,
** Conducting cutthroat spawning surveys on Thornton Creek for Seattle Public Utilities,
** Surveying freshwater mussel populations in Bear Creek,
** Performing fish-passage and watershed assessments on Whidbey Island,
** Evaluating 66 projects funded by the National Fish and Wildlife
Foundation to address fish passage issues at road culverts in eleven states,
** Working with subconsultantsto develop project designs for the Cherry Valley and Schoolhouse Creek restoration sites,
** Using underwater video technology to document fish species composition,
relative density, and habitat preferences at reference sites within the lower five miles of the Tolt River.
Puget Sound Stream Surveys:
One of the biggest field projects WT crews are currently working on is to perform watertyping surveys on approximately 20 south King County watersheds that drain directly into Puget Sound. The fieldwork is being done in the cities of Burien, Des Moines, Normandy Park, and SeaTac. Crews started work on April 21 and the project should continue through mid-May. In addition to determining the types and distribution of fish in these watersheds, our crews will be documenting potential fish passage barriers and groundtruthing King County maps along the reaches surveyed. It is still too early in the project to report any preliminary results.
As with similar projects on Vashon Island and in the Port Ludlow watersheds, we will incorporate the project results into an interactive, internet-based geographic information system (GIS) to ensure that the public and appropriate regulatory agencies can readily access the information. To view the GIS that have been created for previous stream survey projects, visit www.washingtontrout.org and follow the link for “Maps”.
The project is being funded by King County with funds originating from the King Conservation District. Washington Trout applauds King County for continuing to recognize the importance of these fundamental data to a comprehensive fish recovery program.
WT Director of Science & Research Jamie Glasgow and Field Technician Dave Crabb surveying Miller’s Creek. Photo taken by Peter Lawson.
Cherry Valley “Fly-By”:
As part of the restoration feasibility study, WT field crews have been collecting topographic data in the Cherry Valley floodplain. The data will assist in the effort to model hydrologic processes and develop alternatives to the existing, aging drainage pumps now in place. Washington Trout has used its GIS system to create an animated 3D "fly-by" of the elevation data. This work is part of a package of animated images that will be used to visually share data and restoration alternatives with affected landowners and agencies. Hopefully, the final images from this project will help build consensus and confidence in the preferred restoration alternatives before any on-the-ground work begins. Follow the link to experience the fly-by: http://www.washingtontrout.org/vidcherrytopo.shtml.
Cherry Creek is the Snoqualmie River’s downstream-most major tributary; its location provides high recovery-benefit potential for listed Puget Sound chinook and other salmonids. The current drainage system disassociates Cherry Creek from important salmonid rearing- and spawning-habitat creation and maintenance processes. A pumphouse impedes access to 12,000-m of spawning and rearing habitat, requires significant maintenance and is unscreened, causing direct mortality of juvenile chinook and other salmonids. WT is working with Drainage District #7, WDFW, NMFS, and affected landowners to develop ecologically sound solutions for restoring lower Cherry Creek floodplain processes, while addressing the needs of the Drainage District and affected landowners. This project was funded by the Salmon Recovery Funding Board.
Settlement Agreement Expands Opportunity to Comment on Hatchery Plans:
Washington Trout, the Native Fish Society, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife have reached an agreement to settle lawsuits brought by the two environmental groups over WDFW’s Puget Sound salmon hatchery operations. The agreement creates a new, expanded public-involvement process that will enhancecitizen opportunity to help shape hatchery management practices in Washington.
Under the terms of the agreement, WDFW will make hatchery management plans available for public comment before the department submits those plans to federal fisheries managers for approval under the Endangered Species Act. The documents, known as Hatchery Genetic Management Plans, must beprepared by WDFW to meet federal ESA obligations. The HGMPs have been due since January 2001.
The department submitted HGMPs for its Puget Sound hatcheries in late 2002 and earlier this year, and is in the process of preparing others for submission to NOAA Fisheries, the federal agency charged with enforcing ESA rules for listed salmon and steelhead populations.
Typically, NOAA Fisheries would seek public review and comment on HGMPs during its own review and approval process. Under the terms of the settlement, WDFW will solicit public input on the hatchery plans prior to NOAA Fisheries’ review. This agreement will expand the public’s opportunity to become meaningfully involved in the state and federal managers’ decision-making processes.
In exchange, the Native Fish Society and Washington Trout have agreed to drop lawsuits against WDFW, which alleged that releases of hatchery-bred chinook, coho and steelhead were hampering wild chinook recovery efforts in Puget Sound. The agreement terms also included reimbursement of the plaintiffs’ legal expenses.
Washington Trout and Native Fish Society charged that WDFW’s Puget Sound hatchery operations were harming and killing wild chinook in a number of ways, through competition for food and habitat, displacement, predation, and harmful genetic interactions. During negotiations with WDFW, WT proposed the comment and response process as a way to make hatchery management more transparent, engage the public, and influence improvements in current hatchery practices.
“We still believe hatchery practices in Puget Sound are causing significant harm to listed species,” said Kurt Beardslee, WT Executive Director. “But we do now hope that the department will be open to improving their management practices, and we believe this agreement and new public process can move that effort forward.”
NOAA Fisheries requires HGMPs for any hatchery operation with the potential to impact a listed salmon or steelhead population. Washington state has 13 salmon and steelhead populations with federal ESA protection. Many HGMPs are still overdue the January 2001 deadline.
Under the agreement, WDFW will publish the text of the Puget Sound HGMPs in the State Register and on its website, solicit public comment for the following 30 days, issue substantive responses to the public comments, and submit the comments and responses to NOAA Fisheries. The responses and comments will be posted on WDFW’s website for public review.
The settlement also sets a schedule for the completion and submission of most of the HGMPs that are still outstanding. Of the roughly 85 outstanding salmon and steelhead HGMPs, half will be submitted within 18 months, and the remainder will be submitted to NOAA Fisheries within 30 months.
WDFW will also solicit public comment on these additional HGMPs as they are completed, and forward any comments to NOAA Fisheries with the department’s response.
Mark Rutzick Appointed Senior Legal Advisor to NOAA Fisheries:
An April 7th article by Les Blumenthal in the Tacoma News Tribune, “Salmon at risk with advisor, critics say”, appears to be the first news of a February 3rd appointment by the Bush Administration of one of the timber industry’s lead attorneys to serve as senior legal advisor to NOAA Fisheries (formerly National Mariner Fisheries Service). Mark Rutzick, a Portland-based attorney, has fought for over a decade to open Northwest old-growth forests to logging. Now he will be advising NOAA Fisheries on legal issues and tactics involving endangered salmon and steelhead.
Environmentalists are criticizing the appointment, describing Rutzick as “anti-endangered species.” WT’s Executive Director Kurt Beardslee says, “For those that care deeply about salmon recovery in the northwest, or any species that's protected under the ESA, this administration's appointment should scare you to your core. In thirteen years of working in the environmental field, I've never seen an appointment that's more concerning.”
Rutzick has often represented the Portland-based timber industry group, the American Forest Resource Council, and has been involved in many anti-environmental battles, including a 1992 lawsuit challenging the protection of the spotted owl, a 1993 lawsuit opposing listing the marbled murrelet under the Endangered Species Act, and a 1994 lawsuit against the implementation of the Clinton administration’s Northwest Forest Plan. More recently, Rutzick has brought cases opposing ESA protections of critical habitat for the spotted owl and marbled murrelet. Rutzick said of his appointment in the article, “I’m a legal adviser. And my job is to provide legal advice to policy-makers charged with implementing the Endangered Species Act.”
Lawyers at Earthjustice, a nonprofit public interest law firm for the environment, have gone up against Rutzick several times. Earthjustice recently filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in regards to negotiations Rutzick was involved with over changes to the Aquatice Conservation Standards of the Northwest Forest Plan.
Washington Trout’s lawyer, Richard Smith of Smith & Lowney LLP comments, “At this point, it's not too astounding that the Bush Administration has appointed another long time representative of resource extraction industries to a high position from which he can more effectively serve his clients. It's an outrage that the legal strategies of the federal agency charged with saving listed salmon will now be directed by a lawyer whose career has been dedicated to frustrating environmental protections for the benefit of corporate profits. We can expect serious dark side legal tactics and yet more backroom dealing from NMFS now."
Given Mr. Rutzick’s credentials and record, many in the environmental community have significant concerns over the likely direction his advice will lead NOAA Fisheries. Many see this as one more indication of the Bush Administration’s commitment to weakening protections and recovery efforts for listed salmon and steelhead populations.
Environmental Discovery Education Classes:
Last October, WT Outreach Coordinator Leah Hausman worked with Stewardship Partners to conduct a pilot environmental education curriculum “Environmental Discovery” with four 3-5th grade classes at Oxbow Farm, an organic farm located in the Snoqualmie Valley. The response from the teachers and students was outstanding and this May, three more classes will participate in the program. The curriculum, developed by Rebecca Benjamin of Stewardship Partners, has two parts – a classroom visit with the students followed the next week by a 4-5 hour field trip. The program is all about “discovering” the outdoors, and students take advantage of the wonderful farm setting to learn about native plants and animals, go exploring on guided nature hikes, and awaken their appreciation for the great outdoors.
After the May classes, Hausman will become the coordinator for the Environmental Discovery class. Funding for the program continues through spring 2004. WT looks forward to continuing to develop the class and involve new students in this wonderful, hands-on curriculum.
Columbia River Bi-Op Case:
On May 7, the Portland Office for Trout Unlimited released the following press release about their case challenging the Columbia River Biological Opinion:
FEDERAL JUDGE RULES COLUMBIA-SNAKE SALMON RECOVERY PLAN INADEQUATE, ILLEGAL
Biological Opinion thrown out due to unreliable and vague salmon recovery measures intended to offset damage done by federal dams
(PORTLAND, ORE.) – Trout Unlimited, one of several plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in May of 2001 charging the inadequacy of the federal plan to recover imperiled salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake river basins, today commended U.S. District Court Judge James A. Redden for finding the plan fell well short of Endangered Species Act requirements.
“While it is a shame that it took litigation to force the government to take a realistic look at the types of decisions and actions required for recovery of these fish, we are pleased that we appear to be at last headed down that road,” said Jeff Curtis of Trout Unlimited’s Portland, Ore. Office.
In his opinion issued today, Judge Redden found that the 2000 federal plan – known formally as the Biological Opinion for the Federal Columbia River Power System – relies improperly on speculative recovery actions which were not reasonably certain to occur.
“Thankfully the Court has recognized that this plan dodged the difficult decisions that must be faced head-on if we’re ever going to see real recovery of wild salmon and steelhead in the region,” Curtis said. “Now we can get on with the real work of making our salmon economies, communities and natural heritage whole again while there’s still time to do so.”
Welcome New Board Members!
WT is pleased to announce three new members of our Board of Directors: Dr. Stephen Conroy, Joanne Hedou, and Vance Jennings. Jennings is the new Board representative for the SE Region, and Conroy and Hedou are Members-At-Large. All three came “on board” this past April.
Dr. Stephen Conroy was WT’s Director of Science and Research from 1996-1999. Prior to his time at WT, Dr. Conroy worked at the University of Aberdeen, University of Colorado, Case Western Reserve University and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. In 1999, he went to KC Department of Development and Environmental Services as a stream ecologist/Senior Ecologist. For the past year he has worked as a Senior Ecologist for the Road Services Division of King County Dept of Transportation. Conroy brings tremendous insight into the complexities of land use issues, the effects of land use on salmonids, and the complexities of local, state and federal regulations. With this experience, he will be able to help WT navigate the often complex regulatory and permitting obstacles that sometimes delay restoration projects as well as provide expert recommendations regarding future land use issues. He lives with his wife Julie, his dogs Skeena and Jazz, and a cat called Cole who keeps the dogs in line. When not working, he spends my time hunting with Skeena, and fishing and mountain biking with Julie.
Joanne Hedou worked for WT from November 2001-July 2002 as WT’s first Outreach Coordinator. Her hard work to develop and further our public outreach and education campaigns was invaluable. She has earned an MS in Geomorphology from the University of Massachusetts, worked at Environmental Consulting firms, with King County on the Sensitive Areas Map Folio and as a geologist for King County DDES - reviewing building permits for Sensitive Areas Ordinance Compliance, and at City University where she taught Environmental Science. Hedou now works at Bastyr University. In her free time (which there is very little of these days!) she writes, bicycles and spends a lot of time with her son.
Vance Jennings is an English and theatre instructor at Naches Valley High School. Jennings is a long-time member of Washington Trout and returns to the board after a hiatus of 10 years. He says he believes that, "Now, more than ever, individuals must step forward and use whatever influence they might have to support organizations such as Washington Trout. Without groups like WT - groups willing to defend the policies that defend our natural world - future generations simply will not know the wonder inspired by the beauty of a wild fish. And we should all find that unacceptable." Jennings is a life-long resident of Yakima, where he lives with his wife of 23 years, Sandy.
2003 Wild Fish Soiree & Auction Most Successful Ever!
The Twelfth Annual WT banquet and benefit auction took place on the evening of May 18 at the Pickering Barn in Issaquah. Washington Trout was honored to present Dr. Bern Shanks, former Director of WDFW, as the evening's keynote speaker. Approximately 130 Washington Trout members and supporters listened enthusiastically to Dr. Shanks review the history of the scientific environmental movement, of the salmon crises, and of the important role of grassroots organizations willing to engage and challenge government over its failures to adequately conserve and protect our natural resources.
The 2003 Wild Fish Soiree and Benefit Auction raised more money for WT's advocacy, research, and restoration programs than any previous event. The silent and live auctions generated exciting and generous bidding, raising nearly $50,000. The "fund a dream" bidding raised over $6,600 toward the purchase of a Trimble Geo-Explorer, Geographic Positioning Systems (GPS) hardware that will assist WT field crews. It is extremely important to document the exact locations of stream banks, tributary junctions and other watershed features when creating accurate and functional geographic information systems (GIS). Many of WT’s research, restoration and advocacy projects utilize GIS and GPS technology and the new Geo-Explorer will greatly increase the accuracy and consistency of WT’s field observations.
Washington Trout extends our appreciation to all our members and supporters who attended the event, donated items, or volunteered to help make the auction such a wonderful success. Your generous support helps make possible all our efforts on behalf of Washington's wild fish.
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. Check out the website for more information on volunteer opportunities and our calendar, which lists upcoming WT and other organizations’ events, meetings, classes, etc. Please contact Leah Hausman at email@example.com if you have an event you would like mentioned in Wild Fish Runs or on the website!
WT would like to thank all of our members and supporters who responded to our March plea for funds to purchase the GiftMaker Pro database system. Thanks to your help, we were able to take advantage of a promotional offer and purchase the system for thousands less. We know you will see the improvements the new database will make in our communications, outreach, and fundraising efforts. So a heartfelt “thanks” from all of us here at Washington Trout, we could not have done this without your support!
You can do your usual online shopping and help support Washington Trout by shopping through the WT shopping village at GreaterGood.com. Choose from more than 100 brand name retailers like eBay, Amazon.com, PetsMart, The Disney Store, Dell, Lands’ End and many more. Up to 15% of everything you buy benefits Washington Trout. To go directly to the WT shopping village, visit http://www.greatergood.com/partner/washingtontrout.
WellSpent.Org is another great source for online shopping. WellSpent.org has thousands of products - including electronics, software, computers, tools, appliances, camping gear and much more - available at discount prices. Every purchase you make generates a donation for the non-profit cause of your choice. So visit http://www.wellspent.org/, search for Washington Trout, and help yourself to some great gifts - you'll be helping us, too!