OK, the first opportunity I want to share with you has to do with some proposed fishing regulations on the Olympic Peninsula. You may be saying, wait what does that have to do with the Snake River Basin fish or even Columbia/Snake River Basin fish? Do you remember the dam removal on the Elwha River? That and a few other dam removals have provided some very good momentum and are a living laboratory for efforts to breach/remove the four lower Snake River dams. It is important that we continue to do whatever we can to help restore these fish, no matter where they may be. If you need a selfish reason, if these regulations are implemented they will definitely help us determine our future path in the Snake River Basin.
#1. Wild Steelheaders United and Trout Unlimited ask you to comment on fishing regulations to help wild steelhead and trout in the Olympic Peninsula
Without further adieu, my good friends at Wild Steelheaders United are asking you to comment on three proposed fishing regulations in the Olympic Peninsula dealing with steelhead and trout fishing. I encourage you to do so. You only have today and tomorrow to do this, so please act fast. There are three different rules to comment on and I warn you in advance that the comment boxes have a limited number of characters so be succinct in your comments online. You could also show up to the meeting Nov. 14 in Olympia, Washington if you can't get this done online today or tomorrow. Thank you for helping out.
For the sake of ease and to avoid communication troubles, I am giving you the request in full...
"If you have ever fished the Olympic Peninsula, or dream of fishing it, now is the time to speak up.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is taking input on proposed rule changes that will impact steelhead and steelhead fishing on the famed Olympic Peninsula. Deadline for comments is NOVEMBER 12th.
The recommendations on rule changes were compiled by the North Coast Steelhead Advisory Group. The group, comprised of 13 people with deep and diverse knowledge of the fishery (one of which was WSU's own John McMillan), was established to gather information about how to best manage the winter steelhead sport fishery.
While not everyone agreed on the same approach, they all agreed on the fact that both fisheries need to be improved to rebuild wild steelhead. The North Coast Steelhead Advisory Group's recommendations are an important step forward in that regard.
We at Trout Unlimited and Wild Steelheaders United ask that anglers get involved in the upcoming management process by providing written comments and testimony in support of several new rules that are being proposed.
Here is our take:
1. First and foremost, ask WDFW to implement wild steelhead and rainbow trout catch-and-release.
Releasing wild steelhead and rainbow trout will put more fish on the spawning grounds, which is critical to rebuilding wild steelhead populations on the OP. Provide support for this rule (#48) by asking WDFW to require catch-and-release for all wild steelhead and rainbow trout on the OP rivers. Click here to comment on Rule #48
2. Second, ask WDFW to implement restrictive gear regulations during the winter steelhead season.
Barbed hooks are more difficult to remove and create larger wounds than barbless hooks. Extended and poor handling reduces the chances of a fish surviving to spawn. Bait is the most effective method and partly as a result, we are catching - not including fish hooked and lost - more than the entire escapement in the Sol Duc and close to it in the Bogachiel and Hoh Rivers. Prohibiting bait will is therefore likely to reduce chances that we catch the entire run while simultaneously spreading use of a limited resource across a greater number of anglers.
Bait is also more likely to result in mortality of post-spawn fish (kelts) that are feeding as they migrate back to the ocean after spawning, and it produces substantially higher encounter and mortality rates with juvenile steelhead and smolts, which is not trivial considering the thousands of anglers that fish the OP every year.
The Advisory Group recommended that barbed hooks and bait be prohibited from December 1to April 31 except during those times and places where hatchery fish are commonly present (December 1 - February 15 in Lower Bogachiel and Calawah Rivers). The problem is that early-timed wild steelhead are also present during the hatchery steelhead season and rebuilding the early-timed component of the run is critical to recovery. Further, because they do enter early, they are in the fishery for a longer period of time. As a result, early-timed steelhead are more likely to be caught multiple times by anglers, leading to greater chances of mortality. Therefore, we request selective gear regulations be implemented across the entire winter steelhead season.
Do this by commenting on Rule #47, which proposes selective gear restrictions only during the summer, and specifically stating that you support selective gear fisheries during the entire winter steelhead season from December 1 to April 31 in the Sol Duc, Calawah, Bogachiel, and Hoh Rivers, in addition to the short stretch of the Queets River between the tribal reservation and the Olympic National Park. Click here to comment on Rule #47
In addition to the above rules, the North Coast Advisory Committee proposed prohibiting the use of motorized boats on OP rivers. Please provide support for this rule under Rule #47 by asking WDFW to prohibit the use of motorized boats on the OP.
3. Third, ask WDFW to experiment with a "no fishing from floating device" rule in the upper Hoh River.
The vast majority of steelhead on the OP are caught by anglers in boats and the advent of rafts - both large and small - and improved fishing techniques means that there are very few places where steelhead cannot be caught by anglers. While anglers could not fish from a boat in this reach of the Hoh under the proposed rule, they could still use boats for transportation.
Restrictions on boat fishing are likely to become increasingly necessary if angling pressure continues to mount and steelhead runs continue to decline. The short reach in the Upper Hoh provides an opportunity to experiment with the rule and see how anglers respond. Ask WDFW to support Rule #46 by specifically suggesting that they institute a no fishing from boat rule from Olympic National Park boundary downstream to the WDFW boat launch at Morgan’s Crossing in the upper Hoh River. Click here to comment on Rule #46
Make your comments heard by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission. For an opportunity to give public testimony on these rule proposals, be sure to attend the WDFW Commission Meeting on November 14 at 8 a.m.
What: WDFW Commission Meeting
When: November 14th, 8:00 am
Where: Natural Resources Building
1111 Washington St SE
Olympia WA 98501
First Floor, Room 172"
#2. Movie about Elwha River restoration and dam removal screening in McCall next week
Also, before I forget, my chapter of Trout Unlimited in McCall is screening "Return of the River," at the McCall Public Library on November 18 (next Wednesday) at 7 p.m. This documentary film is about the removal of the Elwha dam and the river restoration. I wish I could be there, but I am working on something big that will keep me from this screening. Nice job screening this movie Reed Gillespie Chapter!
Now I want to remind you of another opportunity to do your part in saving our wild salmon and steelhead.
And last, but certainly not least...
#3. Save Our Wild Salmon is asking you to speak up for a free-flowing Snake River
Save Our Wild Salmon wants you to help by raising your voice in support of removing the lower Snake River dams and demanding clean and affordable energy in the Northwest's new Power Plan. Public comments are needed by December 18, which is the only reason this item is third on the list in today's blog. You have some time, but don't forget to do it.
For simplicity I will share what Save Our Wild Salmon has asked me to do in quotes below, so you can do it too.
"The Northwest Power and Conservation Council was created in 1980 to ensure “equitable treatment” of energy AND imperiled fish and wildlife populations in the Columbia Basin. Thirty-five years later, the Northwest has more energy than it normally needs while 13 wild salmon and steelhead populations remain at risk of extinction. Last summer, a quarter-million Columbia and Snake river salmon died from hot water worsened by the hydrosystem’s many slackwater reservoirs.
By any measure, fish and wildlife populations in the Columbia Basin need serious help.
The Council’s Draft 7th Regional Power Plan offers little help for the Columbia and Snake river’s struggling salmon and steelhead populations. The public has until Dec. 18, 2015, to provide written comments and testimony at public hearings in the Northwest states. An effective Power Plan is critical to charting a Northwest energy future with clean power and healthy fish and wildlife populations. The 7th Plan will be a 20-year roadmap for (1) resource decisions throughout the regional power system and (2) fish and wildlife protection decisions in the Columbia-Snake basin.
While the Draft 7th Plan represents a good start for clean energy priorities, it needs major improvements in its business-as-usual approach to fish and wildlife. We need you to speak up on behalf of our imperiled fish and wildlife populations and insist that they get the equitable treatment to which they’re legally entitled. Improving this draft plan requires fish and wildlife advocates’ active engagement.
HERE'S HOW TO HELP:
- ORGANIZE your friends and urge them to speak up before December 18, 2015!
- TAKE ACTION ONLINE: Submit written comments online here.
- ATTEND A HEARING: Testify on behalf of fish and wildlife and clean energy.
- SHARE this alert link with your friends, families and networks via email and social media!
- CONTACT Save Our wild Salmon to get more involved and help make the 7th Northwest Power and Conservation Plan work better for our imperiled Northwest fish and wildlife populations:
-- Sam Mace: email@example.com // 509-863-5696"
They also shared some talking points with you. Feel free to use these or come up with your own. I have included them below...
"FISH AND WILDLIFE TALKING POINTS:
- The Northwest Power and Conservation Council's 7th Plan must fully assess the costs associated with removing four low-value, high-cost dams on the lower Snake River to recover endangered wild salmon. As the dams in the federal hydrosystem age, their maintenance costs are ballooning. Climate change, meanwhile, is further stressing endangered salmon. The Council should take an honest look at the costs and benefits of maintaining or retiring the four lower Snake River dams to aid the survival and recovery of endangered wild salmon and steelhead populations.
- Abundant self-sustaining populations of salmon and steelhead in the Columbia Basin are priceless and irreplaceable to the ecology, economy and culture of the Northwest. Salmon enrich the lands, waters, and people of the Northwest. Salmon and steelhead support jobs and businesses; cultures and communities, and other fish and wildlife populations. Many populations today face extinction and effective restoration programs are needed more than ever.
- The Council has not lived up to its responsibilities to assure “equitable treatment” of energy and fish and wildlife resources in the Columbia/Snake Basin. Simply incorporating an inadequate Fish and Wildlife Program Amendment into the 7th Plan and ‘calling it good’ is unacceptable.
- Every year, U.S. taxpayers and Northwest utility bill payers are assessed hundreds of millions of dollars for salmon recovery plans that the federal courts have NEVER considered legal. The Courts have ruled government plans illegal four times since 2000. Thirteen populations are listed under the Endangered Species Act; none has recovered.
- Climate change damage is mounting and the Council’s plan does virtually nothing to mitigate these impacts. River temperatures are rising and flow patterns are changing. A quarter-million salmon died in the Columbia and Snake rivers last summer, the result of hot water made worse by the dams and reservoirs.
- Only 1% of the adult Snake River sockeye - just 45 fish - that returned to the Columbia River mouth survived to reach Redfish Lake in central Idaho. Of the 250,000 smolts that swam to the ocean two years ago, just two out 1,000 survived and returned. We need at least 10 times that return ratio just to maintain the population.
- Five years ago, the Council’s 6th Power Plan modeled the affordability of replacing the energy of the lower Snake River dams. Despite many trends – economic, legal, public and climate-related – indicating that dam removal makes even more sense today than it did 5 years ago, the Council has failed to update that analysis.
- The Final Plan must include a full assessment of the costs and benefits of maintaining and removing the 4 lower Snake River dams and replacing the energy with clean, carbon-free resources.
- The Council cannot continue to allow playing effective wild salmon recovery against clean energy. The Northwest needs both wild salmon AND clean energy. It is the Council’s duty to strike this balance and provide for "equitable treatment", as required by law.
Carbon-free, salmon-friendly energy is good for fish and wildlife, too!Fish and wildlife advocates support a final 7th Plan that:
- Increases use of energy efficiency, our cheapest, surest and most climate-friendly new resource.
- Avoids construction of new natural gas-fired power plants. We don’t need them.
- Deeply cuts carbon emissions."
I will write a blog in greater detail, but my general comment on clean energy talking points asks if we are doing everything we can be doing to increase our cleaner energy sources while decreasing our reliance on dirtier energy sources? So I would ask that this document reflect a true commitment to adding rooftop solar across the region. I would ask for this document to include investment in at the very least the feasibility of the implementation of solar roads. Simply put, if we begin to maximize our rooftop space that is southern facing for the purposes of generating cleaner solar energy, we will reduce our reliance on fossil fuel energy and on deadbeat dams, which are not clean (literally billions of dead salmon and steelhead would attest to that if they could).
Once again, I have left you with homework to do. But this is the feel good kind of homework. Speak up, your government is not entirely lost, it is only lost when good people are silent. Make some noise, they will listen if you speak up and consistently demand better for wild salmon and steelhead and for us, too.