Saturday, July 31, 2010

Work Underway to Remove Gold Ray Dam

Work has begun to remove Gold Ray Dam on the Rogue River. The demolition had been delayed briefly when a small group of local landowners argued that their civil rights were being violated in removing the dam. However this week, US District Court Judge Owen Panner allowed work to go ahead, arguing that the group had little chance of winning a lawsuit.

Gold Ray is the last dam remaining in the 157 mile stretch between Lost Creek dam and the Pacific. The last two years have seen the removal of two dams on the mainstem Rogue both were major impediments to outmigrating salmonids as well as returning adults. Money to remove Gold Ray was allocated in the federal stimulus package, meaning that Jackson County officials had to speed the project along in order to take advantage of the federal funds.

More information in the Southern Oregon Mail Tribune:

Friday, July 30, 2010

Managers Forecast Huge Run of Fall Chinook on Columbia

The Fall Chinook fishery on the Columbia River opens August 1st and managers are forecasting a return of more than 650,000 fish which would make this fall the largest return of fall Chinook since 2004. Coho are also commonly caught in the late summer fishery on the Lower Columbia, however after last summers record return of Coho, managers are forecasting a more normal return this fall, with 286,000 coho expected to return to the Columbia this season. While the preseason Chinook forecast is reason for optimism, there is considerable uncertainty associated with preseason forecasts. This year's spring Chinook run was initially forecast to be the largest on record, but ended up falling roughly 100,000 fish short of the expectations.

More information on this year's Fall Chinook and Coho forecasts in the Columbia Basin Bulletin:

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Forest Service Acts to Protect Chetco River

The Forest Service has proposed a ban on new suction dredge mines on the Chetco River, the Bureau of Land Management will now consider the ban and should have a decision in the next two to three months. Meanwhile, Oregon's congressional delegation has vowed to pursue a lasting resolution to the problem of suction dredge mining in Oregon's Rivers, a problem which has grown since California banned the practice last year.

While the Forest Service's action would not be able to stop the development of 8 currently held mining claims, it will require that the developer prove that each claim has deposits that warrant mining before expanding the project. Currently Seattle based developer Dave Rutan holds mining claims along 24 miles of the Chetco, three within the Kalmiopsis Wilderness and 5 within the Wild and Scenic portion of the river.

More information in the Oregonian:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Wild Olympics Campaign

The Olympic Peninsula is home to some of the most productive and intact salmon habitat in Washington State and indeed the Lower 48. For too long however, these rivers have been without any formal protection under federal law. While most of the rivers on the Peninsula originate in the Olympic National Park, the lower reaches are often threatened by logging and other activities. Despite their extraordinary ecological, cultural and economic value, none of these rivers are protected under the Wild and Scenic Rivers act.

Recognizing the tremendous value of these rivers to our region a coalition of groups have joined forces to lobby the federal government to protect many of the peninsula's finest streams as Wild and Scenic, add significant acreage to the Olympic National park and designate new wilderness areas. Check out their website for more information, and links to how you can get involved.

Sign their online petition here:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Comment on DFOs Draft Aquaculture Plan

The Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans has released their draft Aquaculture Regulations and the public has until September 8th to comment. Over the last two decades the salmon farming industry has grown exponentially in coastal British Columbia with catastrophic impacts for wild salmon and steelhead throughout the region. This is a great opportunity for the pubilc to make their opinions heard regarding the future of open net pen aquaculture. The regulations as they're currently laid out have a number of shortcomings including failing to prioritize the primary mandate of DFO which is the protection of wild salmon, no improvement in the environmental standards from their current dismal state, no financial support for proposed monitoring efforts, a lack of public disclosure and transparency, and a weaking of the formal environmental review process. More information on the aquaculture regulations and how to send comments to DFO on the Georgia Strait Alliance's website:

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Reminder: Comments Due July 23rd

Comments are due on WDFWs 2011-2017 strategic plan by July 23rd. Please take the time to submit comments telling the department that it is time to put the well being of wild salmon and steelhead first and foremost. Any viable strategic plan must

-End Harvest of Wild Steelhead immediately.

-Implement Wild Salmonid Refugia in every ESU as outlined in the Wild Steelhead Management Plan

-Reduce the impacts of hatchery programs on wild fish. The state must weigh the ecological effects of hatchery supplementation and bring hatchery releases into balance with the ecosystem's productive capacity. It also must protect the productivity and genetic integrity of wild stocks by dramatically reducing the number of hatchery salmonids spawning in the wild and monitoring to ensure goals are met.

- Setting escapement goals based on historic abundance rather than political expedience or failed Maximum Sustained Yield principles.

Comment Here:

More information:

Monday, July 19, 2010

Huge Victory For Yuba Salmon

Last week, a US District Court judge ruled that BiOps prepared for two dams on the Yuba river were inadequate. In a case brought by the South Yuba Citizens League and Friends of the River, Judge Lawrence Karlton ruled that the plan as prepared by NMFS did not adequately address a number of impacts on the listed Chinook salmon including the influence of hatcheries, conditions in the Sacramento delta, and the threat of future climate change.

Roughly 12% of Sacramento Chinook spawn in the Yuba, and it represents one of the last refuges for wild salmon in the system. The two dams on the Yuba are managed by the Army Corps of Engineers. Daguerre Point dam has inadequate fish passage for both upstream adults and outmigrating juveniles and upstream, Englebright Dam blocks anadromous access entirely to over a hundred miles of spawning and rearing habitat. Advocates for the Yuba see this as a major opportunity to move towards removing these two antiquated dams, which were not built for water supply or hydro-power and provide negligible flood control benefit.

More information here

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Clayoquot Salmon Facing a Bleak Future

Clayoquot Sound, on the west coast of Vancouver Island is home to some of the most pristine watersheds on the Island and has long been known for its world class salmon fishing. The region has been protected as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 1993 and with many of the rivers within the boundaries of Strathcona Provincial Park, the freshwater habitat should be protected in perpetuity. Yet somehow, populations of salmon in the Sound have experienced severe declines in the last two decades and despite high quality habitat, they're teetering on the precipice of collapse. While it has not drawn the same amount of attention as the Broughton Archipelago and the Fraser, Clayoquot has some of the highest densities of salmon farms in the Province. Biologists from the Wild Fish Conservancy, a Washington based non-profit have set out to document the impacts of salmon farms on the area's wild fish and better understand what role salmon farming is playing in the decline of wild salmon in the Sound.

Check out a video from the common sense Canadian:

Also threatening the Clayoquot Sound is a proposal to build a large open-pit copper mine in the area. Read an article on how protections which environmentalists fought so adamantly for in 1993 have failed to protect the ecosystem over the last 17 years here...

Thursday, July 15, 2010

$30 Million to Restore Puget Sound

The EPA announced recently that they will be offering 30 million dollars towards restoration activities in Puget Sound in the next few years. The money is part of a federal and state push to "clean up" Puget Sound by 2020. While cleaning up the Sound is an abstraction, the damage that has been done by a century and a half of urban growth, industry and agriculture is very real. WDFW estimates that more than 80% of Puget Sounds historic estuary habitat has been lost, mostly to diking and filling to make way for agriculture and ultimately urban development. Steelhead and Chinook salmon are both listed as threatened in the Sound and NOAA has just been petitioned to list Coho salmon as well. The effort to protect what remains of the Puget Sound's naturally productive habitat and restore what can be salvage is a long process and federal involvement and dollars are essential. Since 2006 the EPA has spent $58.4 million on restoring the sound. Money from the latest round of grants will go to a variety of projects including but not limited to, improving upstream passage for migrating salmon, restoring estuaries, education and outreach, and purchasing and protecting critical habitat.

More information in the Columbia Basin Shorts:

Monday, July 12, 2010

Lawsuit over Inflated Mitigation Costs

The Northwest Resource Information Center has filed a law suit claiming that the Northwest Power and Conservation Council misrepresents the costs and benefits of mitigation efforts on the Columbia system. In their petition the group claims that the most recent power plan, "arbitrarily and artificially inflates the costs of measures for anadromous fish protection, mitigation, and enhancement, most notably bypass spill and reservoir operations" In estimating costs, the Power Council uses market rates instead of the actual rates it charges customers, inflating the cost of spill and other measures which have benefited Columiba salmon and steelhead recently. Earthjustice attorney Steve Mashuda, the lead attorney on the challenge to the 2008 BiOp said recently that without the artifical inflation of cost, the real estimate for the cost of flow augmentation would be somewhere around $300 million, far lower than the $450 million BPA reported.

More information at the Northwest Fishletter:

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Fraser Sockeye Will not Recieve Sustainability Certification

Fraser River Sockeye will not receive an eco-label as sustainable from the Marine Stewardship Council, a reversal of an announcement last February which drew widespread criticism throughout the region. A MSC sustainable certification is given to fisheries which are, "harvested in a way that maintains stock health, protects marine biodiversity, and respects international, national and local standards for responsible fishing." Recently the Fraser has fallen short of preseason forecasts over the last few years the population has become considerably less productive. While some stocks of Fraser sockeye remain relatively robust, some are extremely endangered, and the fishery on the Fraser impacts endangered stocks, making it a poor cantidate for a sustainability certification. Last years sockeye run on the Fraser fell nearly 9 million fish short of its preseason forecast of 11 million, prompting a judicial review of factors contributing to the decline.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Please Comment: To WDFW Customers, Stakeholders and Interested Parties:

Please take the time to tell WDFW how you feel about the state of Washington's Wild Fish. It is imperative that the state hears from those who want management that emphasizes the importance of wild fish. Tell WDFW to meet their own goals as laid out in the Steelhead Management Plan and designate Wild Salmonid Management Zones in each ESU, to reduce the ecological and genetic impacts of hatchery supplementation, set escapement goals based on historic abundance rather than political expedience and MSY principles and end the harvest of wild steelhead in Washington State. The future of our wild salmonids is in our own hands. COMMENT PERIOD ENDS July 23rd.

Press Release from WDFW

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) wants your input as we develop our 2011-2017 Strategic Plan. We’re particularly interested in your views on priority strategies, initiatives and projects the agency should focus on in the coming biennium, July 2011- June 2013.

This planning process informs and helps guide development of the budget request proposal we will submit to the state Office of Financial Management this fall. Specifically, we’d like to hear your concerns and proposed solutions to help protect and manage the state’s fish, wildlife and their habitats. What should we work on? What needs to be fixed?

The draft Strategic Plan is posted on the WDFW website at It provides WDFW leaders’ initial assessment of high-priority needs and describes ways we intend to address those needs. We welcome your suggestions on strategies and ideas for specific projects and activities to achieve the Goals and Objectives for 2011-17, beginning on page 18.

We’ve included our current list of strategic projects for the 2009-11 biennium in Appendix A of the draft as an example of what we’re looking for.

In these economically challenging times, we recognize that we cannot meet all fish and wildlife management needs. We have lost nearly 31 percent of our state General Fund support and been forced to cut 10 percent of our staff in the current 2009-11 biennium. Further reductions are anticipated in the coming 2011-13 biennium. These reductions affect vital fish and wildlife management activities, such as hatchery fish production, game population surveys, recovery efforts for at-risk species, maintenance of state wildlife lands that provide habitat and recreation opportunities, and habitat protection and restoration.

Achieving our strategic goals will depend on our ability to make tough choices in prioritizing and allocating resources. Now, more than ever, we must make the most of limited resources and that’s why we’re asking you for feedback to help us make those difficult choices.

Conserving our natural resources and providing sustainable recreational and commercial opportunities are the agency’s mandates and we will continue to do our best to accomplish our mission in these difficult times. We will keep our long term goals in sight and continue to focus on priorities as we move forward.

We welcome your input by July 23, 2010. You may submit your comments online at the site above, or by e-mail at this address:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Correction - Condit Dam Removal Slated for October

In an article posted last night we asserted that Condit dam on the White Salmon River would be removed starting this October. We based this on information found on Washington Department of Ecology's website, however it has come to our attention that the removal has been delayed for yet another year. Apparently the hold up is being caused by two Clean Water Act permits which remain to be issued by the Army Corp of Engineers and the Washington Department of Ecology. It is unfortunate that a buearocratic hold up is slowing the restoration of a wild and free flowing river, particularly when PacifiCorp is willing to pay to remove its own dam. Clearly, the removal of the dam is in the public interest and we hope that the project will move forward in 2011. More information to come.

See an article in the Columbian from this winter for more information

Condit Dam in southwest Washington has blocked anadromous access to the White Salmon River at river mile 3 for nearly 100 years. While the dam's owner PacifiCorp and regulators originally signed an agreement to take the dam out in 1999 the process has been slowed by a lengthy Environmental Impact assessment necessitated by elevated levels of mercury found in sediments trapped behind the dam. Despite the five year wait, the project appears to have cleared its final hurdle with the Washington Department of Ecology concluding that trapped mercury does not pose a significant threat to the environmental or public health. Removal is slated to begin in October when PacifiCorp will drain Northwestern Lake the first step in restoring access to almost 33 miles of habitat as well as replenishing gravel and large woody debris in the three miles of lower mainstem below the dam. WDFW has estimated that the newly available habitat may eventually support as many as 4000 spring chinook, 700 steelhead and 2000 coho. While the numbers are speculative at this point, the fact remains that the long awaited dam removal is set to begin this fall, making the White Salmon the latest in a series of fish passage and dam removal projects around the region which seek to allow fish access to more of their historic habitat. Good news for the future of wild salmon and steelhead in Washington State.

More information on Washington Department of Ecology's Website

Friends of the White Salmon

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Chilliwack River Gravel Mine

The Chilliwack River in BC has long been one of the Lower Mainland's most productive and popular anadromous fisheries. Now pending approval from the Ministry of Mines, Southview Sorting Ltd is proposing to construct a 40 hectare gravel mine in the upper watershed, posing a threat to the future of one of the Lower Mainland's most stable and productive river systems. The proposed mine would sit in an environmentally sensitive area and in a part of the valley previously designated as unsuitable for gravel extraction because of high risk to the watershed. Community activists in the Chilliwack valley have banded together to protect their river and the future of the valley. Check out their website and sign their petition


Monday, July 5, 2010

Oregon Coast Salt Marsh Restoration

This summer, after more than a decade of work to acquire land, fund raising and planning, 450 acres of historic salt marsh in the Coquille River estuary. Reconnection the long diked and drained acreage has been spearheaded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in cooperation with a number of other nonprofits and government agencies. Estuary habitat is critical for outmigrating juvenile salmonids, in particular the project is expected to greatly benefit Chinook, which typically spend much of their early marine lives in estuary and nearshore habitats. More information in the Oregonian.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Fighting the Enbridge Northern Gateway

In the wake of the gulf oil catastrophy and increased public awareness about the risks associated with oil infrastructure, the Enbridge corporation is fighting to keep their Northern Gateway project alive. The project proposes to build an oil pipeline from the Alberta tarsands through the Rockies and the entire province of BC to Kitimat on BCs northern coast where it would be loaded into tanker ships and transported to market. The pipeline which would cross both the Fraser and Skeena River systems could have potentially catastrophic effects on two of the most important salmon bearing rivers in the world, and in the landslide, avalanche and earthquake prone terrain of Northern British Columbia it would only be a matter of time before a catastrophic spill became a reality. Equally bad is the proposal to ship oil from Kitimat along the remote central coast of BC. The rivers of BCs central coast represent a vast wilderness refugia for wild salmon and steelhead. Twenty years after the Exxon Valdez the marine ecosystems effected by the spill have still not recovered. In the 21st century that is an unacceptable risk for BCs spectacular coastal ecosystems.

The folks at the Dogwood Initiative have been doing some great work to fight against the Northern Gateway project. Check out their website for more information

Also, more information on a proposed ban on oil-tanker traffic along the BC coast in the Vancouver Sun