Sunday, May 12, 2013
The Environmental Protection Agency is accepting public comments on the proposed Pebble Mine project. The mine, which is proposed in the headwaters of Iliamna Lake and the Nushugak River in the Bristol Bay region of Alaska, has been under review since 200?. Last year, a scientific review of the project concluded that it would pose a significant ecological and economic threat to the Bristol Bay region, and the EPA is expected to issue a final decision on the project this year.
Pebble mine would be among the largest open pit mines on the planet, located squarely in the heart of one of the worlds most productive sockeye bearing ecosystems. For more than 100 years Bristol Bay has supported one of the largest, most stable commercial sockeye fisheries in the world. The mine would have far reaching impacts on sockeye populations in the affected watersheds and the host of species and communities that rely on them.
Please take 5 minutes to submit comments to the EPA before May 31st and tell the EPA to protect the future of the Bristol Bay ecosystem and fishery:
Sunday, May 5, 2013
In a landmark decision last fall British Columbia's Liberal government denied an environmental certificate to Pacific Booker Minerals for a proposed mine in the Morrison Lake in the headwaters of the Babine watershed. The Babine is the largest single producer of sockeye in British Columbia and sustains the majority of the commercial and indigenous fisheries in the region. A new open pit mining project would have spelled disaster for the Babine Lake ecosystem and the Skeena more generally, prompting even the pro-mining liberal government to conclude the risks far outweighed the benefits. Now in what is among the most outrageous, and obnoxious developments yet, the company has opted to sue the province over their decision on the project. This represents a troubling theme in Canadian resource development, with decision making power increasingly being taken away from local governments, and consolidated in the hands of the companies which profit from environmentally destructive resource extraction.
Stay tuned for more developments in this story.
More from the Globe and Mail:
Monday, April 29, 2013
After 20 years of investment in passage improvements and increased spill, managers are finally putting an end to controversial mid-summer barging of salmon smolts in the Columbia. Barging had been seen as a means of increasing outmigration survival for ESA listed salmon stocks in the Upper Columbia and Snake, with smolts collected at McNary dam loaded onto barges and literally shipped down stream to the Pacific. However barging came with its own set of problems, subjecting juvenile fish to the unnatural stress of confinement in high densities, and reducing the ability of returning fish to successfully home to their natal rivers. Indeed, some studies have suggested that barging increased the likelihood of straying more than 10-fold. So this year citing improvements in outmigration success through the dams resulting from passage improvements and increased spill, managers will be discontinuing the program. While it is a small step towards a more natural Columbia system lets hope its a sign of bigger changes to come.
More in the Columbia Basin Bulletin:
Friday, April 26, 2013
On April 1st, a fish passage facility went online at Minto Diversion dam on the North Santiam River. The project is once small step towards stabilizing and recovering wild winter steelhead and spring Chinook in the Willamette system, and will provide access to about 4 miles of habitat upstream of Minto Dam. Further upstream, and biologists hope to eventually be able to trap and haul fish above the larger Detroit dam. Already, 50 wild stelhead have been passed into the habitat upstream of Minto dam. For now though, only hatchery spring chinook will be released above Detroit dam, as the US Army Corp studies how best to provide downstream passage for juvenile fish.
A similar project was built at Cougar Dam in the McKenzie basin in 2010, with spring chinook and steelhead successfully colonizing habitat upstream immediately.
The project is a part of a broad initiative to provide passage above dams in the Willamette Valley, as mandated by the 2008 Willamette Project biological opinion. In total the project will open
ODFW's Upper Willamette Recovery Plan:
Monday, April 22, 2013
A good article out this week in the Crosscut examines the question of what the next steps are for the Federal Government on Snake River Salmon. The Federal Government has yet to produce a Biological Opinion (BiOp) - a recovery plan - that has been able to wistand legal scrutiny under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Recently, there has been positive movement in some ways, with the government putting together a multi-stakeholder concensus project. However, there has yet to be any tangible evidence that they are prepared to take the steps necessary to ensure the survival and recovery of salmon in the Columbia and Snake, the removal of the four lower Snake River dams. With eastern Washington congressman Doc Hastings, the BPA and utility districts scrambling to protect the status quo, wild salmon and steelhead still face a stiff uphill climb.
More from the Crosscut:
Sunday, April 21, 2013
WDFW's Regional Columbia River Conservation Endorsement Success: A Model for Expanding Opportunities and Improving Monitoring in Puget Sound?
The fee, which was authorized by senate bill 5421, raised more than $2.3 million in just over a year, and continues to provide funding for vital population monitoring, creel surveys, enforcement and research. With the states fiscal situation continuing to threaten funding availability for WDFW, the conservation surcharge provides a model for funding key management functions. And, unlike license fees which go into the state's general fund, anglers interested in fishing for salmon and steelhead have assurance that funds from the surcharge are being funneled directly into providing support for conservation and management.
In Puget Sound, state funding for monitoring and research remains fairly limited and a lack of quality population data, preseason forecasting, and in-season run updating remains as a barrier to providing fishing opportunity, particularly for wild winter steelhead.
Anglers are increasingly calling on WDFW to develop a scientifically credible framework for re-opening catch and release sport fisheries for wild winter steelhead in the Skagit and other Puget Sound rivers. As the state works towards developing and implementing a recovery plan, having dedicated funds to support monitoring, improved run forecasting, creel survey and restoration would be a major benefit, and anglers in Puget Sound would undoubtedly be happy to contribute $10 a year if it improved the prospect of the state managing fisheries for wild winter steelhead on a regular basis.
More information on the Columbia River surcharge program can be found on WDFW's website: