Thursday, June 30, 2011

IHN at Dworshak National Fish Hatchery

A new outbreak of the IHN virus at Idaho's Dworshak National Fish Hatchery has forced fisheries managers to destroy more than 300,000 juvenile steelhead. The fish are being killed to help prevent the spread of the disease to uninfected juvenile fish. The hatchery was built to mitigate the loss of the North Fork Clearwater River, once the primary spawning tributary of the basin's B-Run steelhead when Dworshak dam blocked all migrating fish at river mile 4. IHN has long been a problem for the Idaho hatchery and can be spread to wild fish. More information in the Republic:

Lake Billy Chinook Fish Passage Update

As the smolt migration season winds down on Oregon's Deschutes River, managers with Portland General Electric have released encouraging fish passage numbers from a project on Lake Billy Chinook. The hundred million dollar facility was initially delayed when part of the structure collapsed into the water in 2009, but last year the first year of passage more than 100,000 fish made it past the dam and this year to date more than 435,000 fish have been passed downstream of Round Butte Dam.

The success of the project still hinges of the survival of those fish at sea and the ability of adults to return to the base of the dam and ultimately be passed upstream to their natal tributaries. Many of the fish currently passing through the dam are hatchery fish which were released as juveniles, allowing scientists to estimate their survival from release past the dam. There is hope however that as adults begin returning to the Upper Deschutes in substantial numbers measures will be taken to phase out hatchery releases.

More information in the Oregonian:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Western Division of American Fisheries Society Deems the Four Lower Snake River Dams a Threat to Wild Salmon and Steelhead Survival

A Monday press release from the Western Division of the American Fisheries Society, establishing their position on the four Lower Snake River dams. See the full text of their resolution here.

Portland, Ore. – Today, the Western Division of American Fisheries Society (WDAFS) announced that it has passed a resolution acknowledging that based on the best available science, the four lower Snake River dams and reservoirs present a significant threat to the continued existence of remaining wild fish populations. The threatened fish populations include wild salmon and steelhead, as well as Pacific lamprey and white sturgeon. It goes on to say that if society wishes to save and restore these imperiled species, “then a significant portion of the lower Snake River must be returned to a free-flowing condition by breaching the four lower Snake River dams[.]” The resolution passed with 86.4% approval.

“This resolution simply tells it like it is from the science perspective: if we want to save Snake River salmon as habitats warm, we have to remove the four lower Snake River dams. There is just no evading that reality,” said Don Chapman, fisheries biologist, former fisheries professor, and consultant to industry, Native Americans, and management agencies.

Said Doug DeHart, former Fisheries Chief at the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and fisheries biologist, “WDAFS did a great job applying the best available science to a tough issue. Let’s hope these scientists’ call for a hard look at removal of the four lower Snake River dams is heeded by this Administration. The future of these fish depends on sound decisions informed by this kind of scientific perspective, but it is also crucial for the future our salmon fisheries up and down the West Coast, and the jobs and the communities those fish support.”

The resolution follows previous WDAFS assessments in 2004 and 2009 of the federal Biological Opinion regarding Columbia and Snake River salmon policy. Those assessments also indicated that restoration of natural river conditions where the four lower Snake River dams occur has the highest likelihood of recovering wild salmon and steelhead.

“I’m proud to be an AFS member today. To stand up against the political forces trying to silence the science on this issue isn’t easy; this call for dam removal and the previous thorough WDAFS critiques of the current plan show that the members of AFS have strong principles and integrity,” said Chapman.

Established in 1870, the American Fisheries Society is the world’s oldest and largest organization of fisheries professionals. Its 3,500-member Western Division covers the 13 western states and British Columbia, including the entire Columbia Basin.

The resolution comes in advance of a Federal judge’s ruling on the legality of the federal government’s current Biological Opinion regarding wild salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake Rivers.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Three Days Left to Protect Sol Duc Steelhead

WDFW is accepting comments on the Snider Creek Hatchery program through June 30th. Earlier this month the department issued an overview of the Snider program which included the possibility of designating the Sol Duc as a wild steelhead refuge and closing all current steelhead hatchery operations in the basin. This would be a huge step forward for one of the most productive and beloved steelhead rivers in Washington State. Learn more about why this hatchery program needs to go and submit your comments at the Native Fish Society's website:

Monday, June 27, 2011

Researchers Find Sea-lice Transmit Disease

Preliminary results from researchers at DFO's Pacific Biological Station have confirmed what many have long suspected: sealice can act as disease vectors carrying pathogens between salmon farms and wild populations. While the impact of the parasites has long been established the new study adds another layer of concern. In recent years populations of wild salmon in the Georgia Basin have collapsed prompting a wave of research and a judicial commission to investigate the factors associated with the decline of Fraser Sockeye and other nearby stocks. While scientists long ago established a link between juvenile mortality and sea lice parasitism, mounting evidence suggests disease is likely a major factor in the decline of salmon from Vancouver Island to the Puget Sound. More information in an article from the Canada Post:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hatchery Fish Back in the Wind? Terrible Idea

An article in the Columbian today reports on some of the comments WDFW received at a recent regional fisheries meeting it held on the management of the Wind River. The Wind in the Columbia Gorge has not received hatchery plants since 1998 when the wild population dipped to a record low of 320. Since then the population has gradually recovered and has been the centerpiece of WDFW's recovery efforts in the Columbia Gorge. At the meeting several individuals called for resuming hatchery plants in the Wind. This can absolutely not happen. The Wind is among the few rivers in Washington State which does not receive hatchery steelhead and is a tremendous example of how wild steelhead can benefit from the elimination of hatchery releases. How serious the threat is remains to be seen but it is critical that the conservation community remain vigilant and protect this precious river.

More information in the Columbian:

Osprey Vol. 69

The Latest Issue of the Osprey is Out. Content Includes:

  • Opposition to the proposed hatchery based recovery on the Elwha
  • Dam Removal in the San Francisco Bay Area
  • Resident and Anadromous interactions in O.mykiss
  • Sandy River Recovery; Why Hatcheries are a Problem
  • The East Fork Lewis. Water Quality Issues and Restoration

Visit our website to subscribe to the Osprey and receive your copy today.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Canadian MP Fin Donnelly Resubmits Bills to Protect Wild Salmon

Fin Donnelly a BC representative to the Canadian parliament reintroduced two bills last week that seek to protect BC's wild salmon resources. The first is a bill that would stop a proposal to pipe oil from the Alberta Tar Sands over the Fraser, down the Skeena before loading it onto oil tankers and shipping it down BC's Central Coast. The project poses a tremendous threat to three of British Columbia's most important salmon bearing ecosystems and a spill would have disastrous long term affects on the regions ecological and economic health. Donnelly's bill would legislate a ban on super tanker traffic up and down the BC coast.

The second bill titled the Wild Salmon Protection Act would require salmon farms in BC to transition to land based closed containment technology. Industry advocates have long argued against such a bill however the evidence that salmon farms have a tremendous detrimental impact on wild populations is overwhelming.

More information in the Common Sense Canadian:

Monday, June 20, 2011

Oregon's Coastal Coho Will Remain Listed

The National Ocean Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the federal agency responsible for managing anadromous fish, announced last week that Oregon's coastal coho will remain listed as threatened under the ESA. The State of Oregon had petitioned for a delisting proposing instead to institute a less restrictive state-federal partnership for their recovery, but citing freshwater habitat which remains degraded and the looming threat of climate change federal managers opted to keep the fish listed. In the last several years coho on the Oregon Coast have seen increased run sizes, however the improved abundance was driven largely by favorable ocean conditions and even in excellent run years stocks remain around 10% of their historic abundance.

More in the Oregonian:

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hatcheries Not a Viable Recovery Tool

An excellent article out today in the Columbia basin bulletin highlights the work of an Independent Science Review Panel assigned to study the efficacy of hatchery programs in recovery efforts on the Lower Snake. Comparing the performance of wild spring chinook stocks in both supplemented and unsupplemented areas before and after hatchery releases began the ISRP concluded that hatcheries are not a viable tool for rebuilding wild populations.

Eric Loudenslager, lead author of the ISRP told the an audience at the Northwest Power and Conservation Council that while hatcheries may stave off exctinction, "there was no evidence presented that supplementation was increasing the abundance of natural origin fish." In fact, when compared to 9 unsupplemented sites Spring Chinook in the Imnaha River showed a decreasing trend.

While these findings are not surprising, they add to the substantial body of information suggesting that hatchery supplementation is having an adverse effect on wild populations in the Columbia and elsewhere. The federal government recently issued a draft EIS for changes in the implementation of Mitchell act hatchery mitigation money on the Columbia and Snake and the plan included a number excellent proposals including reducing the number of hatchery fish released in some basins, building weirs at the mouths of some rivers to remove hatchery spawners and ending the release of out of basin hatchery fish.

More information in the Columbia Basin Bulletin:

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Dates Set for Condit Dam Removal

Having cleared the regulatory hurdles and legal challenges the long anticipated removal of Condit Dam will go ahead this fall. This week the dams owner PacifiCorp announced that they had received a permit for sediment management from the US Army Corps of Engineers and the dam removal is formally scheduled for the end of October. To meet that deadline dam removal preparations will begin immediately. The dam removal will involve blasting a 12 by 18 foot tunnel through the base of the dam, draining the 92 acre Northwestern Lake in about 6 hours in a controlled high water event. Removing the dam will have an immediate impact on the river below as large amounts of stored sediment are transported downstream, however the sediment is expected to move quickly ultimately restoring spawning gravels and riverine habitats below the dam and providing access to 33 miles of anadromous habitat above the old dam.

More information in the Columbian:

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Weekly Action List 6/15/2011

Please take a few minutes to comment on these important issues

Snider Creek Hatchery Comments:
WDFW is accepting comments on the future of the Snider Creek hatchery on the Sol Duc. The contract between the state and the Olympic Peninsula Guides Association expires this year and the state is currently deciding whether or not to renew the program. Email comments to or follow the link to a letter we've written with the Native Fish Society, fill in your name and address and press send. Comments due June 30th.

HR 2060 Threatens Upper Deschutes Recovery: HR 2060 which establishes guidelines for water allocation in the Crooked River basin threatens to undermine fish passage efforts in the Upper Deschutes by failing to provide minimum instream flows for fish in the Crooked. More information in this press release from the Native Fish Society. Contact your congressman ASAP and tell them not to adopt HR 2060 without significant improvements in the amount of water allocated to threatened fish in the basin.

Open Net Pen Salmon Farms are NOT sustainable: The world wildlife fund is in the process of updating their sustainable aquaculture standards. Among the proposals is to add open net pen salmon farming to the list of sustainable aquaculture products. This is clearly not the case. Salmon farming and the associated diseases and parasites have devastated wild salmon and trout throughout the world and must not be certified sustainable. In the fight for improved salmon farming practices tt is critical that consumers are aware of the impacts of the industry. Sign a petition telling the WWF not to certify farmed salmon:

Not Another Fish Farm in Clayoquot

Clayoquot Sound on Vancouver Island's West Coast is blessed with some of the most pristine watersheds in the region and salmon populations are collapsing. Many believe that fish farms in the area are responsible and the highest farm densities in BC are found in Clayoquot. Despite the impact of salmon farms on wild salmon populations the BC government is considering allowing another fish farm tenure at Plover Point. Comment through June 18th on the proposal and tell the BC government no more fish farms in Clayoquot.

Protect the Green River from Mining:
The Green River in Washington's Cowlitz county was recently ranked the 6th most endangered river in the United States because of a proposed mine in the watershed. The Green is the largest tributary of the North Fork Toutle and has been a critical refuge for spawning salmon and steelhead since the eruption of Mt St Helens. Visit American River's website and learn how you can help protect the Green.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Eagles Take a Dent out of Salmon Eating Birds on the Columbia

Over the last several years populations of caspian terns and double crested cormorants have exploded on the Lower Columbia prompting concerns over the piscivorous birds' impact on outmigrating salmon. This year however in an unexpected turn of events increased predation by eagles, peregrine falcons and great horned owls have led to a near complete collapse of what were once thought to be the largest colonies of terns and cormorants in the world. More information in the Columbia Basin Bulletin:

Friday, June 10, 2011

Take Five Minutes to Help the Sol Duc

WDFW is accepting comments on the future of the Snider Creek hatchery through June 30th and it's now easier than ever to make a difference. The Sol Duc is among the most intact populations of wild steelhead anywhere in the lower 48 and deserves protection from the harmful effects of hatchery supplementation. WDFW is considering designating the Sol Duc as a wild steelhead management area but needs to hear from more conservation minded individuals in support of that proposal. Please take a few minutes to write the department, the future of our wild steelhead depends on it. Many thanks to the Native Fish Society for their help. Follow the link to their website, fill in your personal information and press send.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Open Net Pen Salmon Farming Is NOT Sustainable

The World Wildlife Fund is in the process of reviewing their aquaculture sustainability standards and some in the salmon farming industry are pushing to have their product deemed sustainable. Throughout the world, open net pen salmon farming has wrought havoc on marine ecosystems and local populations of wild salmon. In BC, parasites and disease have devastated wild stocks causing upwards of a 98% decline in a single generation of Broughton Archipelago pink salmon. Salmon farms and the parasites and disease they spread to local wild populations are also increasingly being implicated in huge declines in Fraser Sockeye and many other stocks throughout Southern BC. Certifying farmed salmon as sustainable makes a mockery of the notion of sustainability and flies in the face of sound resource management principles and sustainable development. Until salmon farms are moved onto land they can absolutely not be deemed sustainable. Sign a petition telling WWF not to certify farmed salmon

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Condit Dam Removal Will Go Ahead This Fall on Washington's White Salmon River

Condit Dam on Washington's White Salmon River has been slated for removal for a number of years but after the project hit another regulatory hurdle this winter there was some concern that the project might be delayed once again. Now it appears that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has signed off on the plan and the dam removal will go ahead as planned. The dam removal which will begin this fall will open more than 30 miles of habitat for anadromous salmon and steelhead. With the removal of the two Elwha dams also starting this year it is a tremendous year for salmon recovery in Washington State. More information on American River's website

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Reminder: WDFW Snider Creek Public Meetings This Week

This week WDFW will be hosting two meetings on the Snider Creek hatchery program on the Sol Duc. The first meeting is tonight in Forks and the second will be Thursday June 9th in Mill Creek. The Snider Creek hatchery takes approximately 50 early returning wild steelhead from the Sol Duc every year however the contract between the Forks Guide Association and WDFW ends this year and the state is currently weighing options for the future of the program. Early returning wild fish are depressed throughout the state and concerns over the impacts of the hatchery program have prompted many to call for the its termination. It is critical that wild fish advocates turn out for these meetings and tell WDFW that the Snider Program must be discontinued. Comments can also be submitted to WDFW at or by U.S. Mail to: Snider Creek, 48 Devonshire Road, Montesano, WA, 98563.

Meetings This Week

* June 7 – From 6-8 p.m. at the Forks Sportsmans Club, 243 Sportsmans Club Road, in Forks.

*June 9 – From 6-8 p.m. at the WDFW North Puget Sound Regional Office, 16018 Mill Creek Blvd., in Mill Creek.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Bill Seeks to Increase Effectiveness of Federal Salmon Spending

Last week congressmen Jim McDermott and Tom Petri along with 10 cosponsors introduced a bill to the House of Representatives that seeks to provide congress and federal agencies with timely scientific and economic information on how to best spend salmon restoration dollars. Among the stated goals of the bill is to restore Columbia River salmon to sustainable, harvestable levels while simultaneously increasing investments in renewable energy and an improved freight transportation system. On the Snake McDermott said all options must be on the table including the removal of the four lower Snake dams and that, "The time to act is now. Billions of public and private dollars have been spent on failed recovery projects that put politics over sound science. Failing to act would further jeopardize our struggling salmon populations that provide thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic benefit for the nation".

With the federal government spending millions of dollars annually to recover ESA listed salmon on the Columbia and Snake House Republicans are increasingly concerned that restoration dollars are achieving very little on the Columbia and are looking for alternatives that will prove less expensive and more effective in the long run.

More information in this Press Release from Save our Wild Salmon

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Skeena Steelhead Symbol of Survival

Check out this great film pulled from the archives of the Steelhead Society of BC and learn more about the work they're doing for wild fish in the province at.

Friday, June 3, 2011

HR 2060 Terrible for Deschutes Steelhead

A bill before the US Congress seeks amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to lay out guidelines for the allocation of water in the Crooked River. The bill is little more than a water grab by local irrigation districts. HR 2060 would establish "first fill" guidelines for water resources in central Oregon's Prineville Reservoir meaning that in dry years irrigators would be given a normal allocation of water from while flows in the Crooked River below the dam would be reduced, taking water from fragile populations of steelhead and chinook. Perhaps more disconcerting are the minimum flow guidelines which the bill would establish for the Crooked, guaranteeing only 17 cfs of flow for fish compared to the 120-200 cfs which are needed for healthy populations of steelhead and chinook. Contact your senator or congressman today and tell them that this bill cannot be adopted without significant improvements in the minimum instream flow guidelines and protections for downstream fish in the case of a drought.

Wyden's local contact:
Wayne Kinney
The Jamison Building
131 NW Hawthorne Ave
Suite 107
Bend, OR 97701
(541) 330-9142

Wyden's Portland contact:
Mary Gautreaux

Wyden's DC contact:
Michele Miranda

Merkley's local contact:
Susanna Julber
Central Oregon Field Representative
Office of U. S. Senator Jeff Merkley
131 NW Hawthorne Ave., Suite 208
Bend, Oregon 97701
541-318-1298 office
541-653-6288 cell

Merkley's DC contact:
Jeremiah Baumann:

If you don't live in Oregon you can find contact information for your congressional representative:

Thursday, June 2, 2011

NMFS to Give Upper Deschutes Steelhead "Experimental" Designation

With fish passage facilities installed at Round Butte Dam on the Deschutes ESA listed salmon and steelhead are spawning in the tributaries of the Upper Deschutes for the first time since the 1960s. With listed fish spawning in local rivers farmers and other water users in the area are concerned about the impact the reintroduction may have on their operations. Now NMFS is proposing designating Upper Deschutes as an "experimental" population giving local irrigation districts and landowners 12 years to bring their operations into ESA compliance. More information in the Oregonian:

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Elwha Dams One Step Closer To Removal

Starting today operators at Elwha Dam will power down it's generators for the final time in preparation for the start of the dam removal process later this summer. Dam removal on the Elwha will be the largest river restoration and salmon recovery project ever implemented. The project has been over a decade in the making and is projected to cost about $ 325 million. With more than 90 miles of pristine spawning habitat reopened to wild salmon and steelhead the project should have tremendous benefits for wild fish however there are concerns about plans to continue hatchery releases during the restoration. In particular the tribe's plan to continue releasing 60,000 non-native chambers creek hatchery steelhead throughout the fishing moratorium. More information on the removal and the powering down of the generators in the Seattle PI: