Sunday, June 8, 2014

Deschutes River Alliance seeks your help

Algae growth on lower Deschutes. Photo by Greg McMillan.

Beginning in 2011 anglers and guides on the lower Deschutes River began discussing their observations about possible changes in the river's ecology: Insect hatches appeared to be less abundant,  water temperature appeared to be higher in the early summer and a new algae appeared to proliferate. As concerns mounted the Deschutes River Alliance (DRA) was formed in 2013 as a nonprofit entity charged to formally address these concerns.

The DRA recently released its Science Plan in which it outlines their plans to investigate temperature, algae, macroinvertebrates, water quality and redband trout. Although they are relying heavily on volunteer work they need your financial contribution to cover various expenses necessary to conduct this research: Donate Here.

From their blog:
Saving a river takes a community effort.  We all have to pitch in.  We will have many volunteers at work this summer and hundreds of hours will be spent collecting data, algae and water samples.  Once the field work is complete, the samples must  be analyzed and reports written.  All of this work is being undertaken by volunteers, but the water chemistry instruments, lab fees, and costs associated with report production all take money. Donate Here.

For more information:

Monday, June 2, 2014

OpEd: Time tp take out America's Worthless, Aging Dams

Yvon Chouinard, the founder of Patagonia and dedicated conservationist of wild salmonids and their ecosystems recently authored a very timely Op Ed for the New York Times. In it he lays out the facts on America's aging dams, the threat they pose to public safety and the toll they are taking on watersheds around the nation. The bottom line is that many dams have long outlived their useful lifespan and it is time for them to be removed. The last few years have brought great progress on dam removal, but the wave of dam removals during the first decade of the 21st century is only a drop in the bucket.

Learn more in the NY Times:

and check out the DamNation website for more on the film:

Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Tongass 77

The Tongass National Forest is home to some of the largest tracts of intact temperature rain forest remaining on the planet. The region which supports an abundance of fish and wildlife is also under threat from a laundry list of industrial developments, both of which produce catastrophic impacts on wild salmon and their habitats.

A coalition of organizations including the Audubon Society, The Nature Conservancy, and Trout Unlimited conducted a comprehensive study of the salmon habitat and populations in the Tongass National Forest and consulted local communities to identify the best of the best salmon habitat in the region. The process resulted in a call for the permanent protection of the "Tongass 77", watersheds which constitute habitats which cannot be sacrificed to logging, mining, or hydropower. These watersheds represent only about 40% of the land base of the Tongass, balancing extractive industries with the protection of habitat and fish populations that support the ecosystems and economies of Southeast Alaska to the tune of a billion dollars.

The spring issue of The Osprey includes two outstanding articles about Southeast Alaska, including one about the habitats, life-histories and conservation of steelhead in the Tongass and another about the treat mining is posing to the mythical Taku watershed.

Learn more about the Tongass:

and the rivers of the transboundary region:

Sign on and join the growing number of voices calling for permanent protection of the Tongass 77

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Tides Turning for Hatchery Reform in Puget Sound

Yesterday, the non-profit Wild Fish Conservancy (WFC) and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced that they had reached a settlement in a lawsuit brought by the WFC against state hatchery programs ongoing releases of non-native Chambers Creek stock steelhead in rivers around the Puget Sound region. Puget Sound steelhead were listed as Threatened under the US Endangered Species Act in 2007. Under the terms of the settlement WDFW will eliminate Chambers Creek hatchery programs in all but one watershed in Puget Sound pending approvals by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and would place a twelve year moratorium on all Chambers Creek releases in the Skagit River, which supports one of largest and most productive steelhead populations in Puget Sound.

The progress made in this single settlement towards protecting and recovering of wild steelhead in Puget Sound cannot be overstated. The harmful effects of hatchery programs on wild salmon are now well understood, and closing steelhead in hatcheries in Puget Sound is among the only management actions available to state and federal managers as they seek to recover Threatened wild steelhead in the region.

While the outcome of federal approvals for Puget Sound area steelhead hatcheries remains unclear, the settlement moves the needle forward substantially. The willingness of WDFW to reach such an agreement, which charts a new course towards recovery is extremely encouraging. In particular the guaranteed moratorium on Chambers Creek stock hatchery releases in the Skagit is very exciting. Such a closure would provide an opportunity for an unprecedented experiment which would likely benefit wild steelhead benefiting significantly.

Coupled with the progress made in the ongoing effort to designate wild steelhead genebanks around the state, WDFW appears to be taking their responsibility to recover wild steelhead in our state seriously.

More information on the Wild Fish Conservancy website:

Monday, April 14, 2014

Kitimat Rejects Enbridge Pipeline

On Sunday, the town of Kitimat where the proposed Enbridge Pipeline would offload oily bitumen from the Alberta tar sands into tankers bound for Asian refineries, held a referendum on the proposed project. While the vote was non-binding, it was viewed as a bellwether and the company poured significant resources into campaigning and advertising to sway public opinion in the town. However, when the votes were all tallied the town had sent a resounding message, with more than 58% of Kitimat's citizens voting against the project. While Kitimat would have likely gained around 100 jobs associated with the oil terminal, the community was not prepared to accept the environmental risks and impacts the project would bring. This is the latest blow to a project that has been a major priority for Prime Minister Stephen Harper, however the project has faced major opposition in British Columbia because of the threat it would pose to the coastal ecosystem and the communities that depend on it, and First Nations remain unified in their opposition along the proposed pipeline route.

More information from the CBC:

Monday, March 10, 2014

WDFW Takes Important First Steps In Designating Lower Columbia Wild Steelhead Genebanks

Despite some loud, opinionated opposition from some in the fishing lobby, WDFW made the right choice this week in announcing that they will move ahead with the designation of three wild steelhead genebanks in the Lower Columbia. Under the plan, the department will be discontinuing the release of hatchery steelhead in the East Fork Lewis as well as the North Fork Toutle and its major tributary the Green River. They have also officially designated the Wind River a wild genebank. The Wind had been managed as a defacto wild steelhead refuge since 1997 when hatchery plants were discontinued there, and since that time wild steelhead in the Wind River have made a remarkable recovery.

More information in a press release from WDFW: