Thursday, January 26, 2012

Recent Snowfall Bodes Well for Columbia Salmon

During the last ten years returns of ESA listed salmon and steelhead Columbia and Snake River systems have experienced a period of relative abundance. Many have attributed the improvements to court mandated spill, or productive ocean conditions, both of which are undoubtedly contributing to improved survival. But another factor that cannot be underestimated is the importance of a healthy snow pack which transports outmigrating juveniles to sea during spring runoff. Several recent years in the Columbia basin have seen robust snow packs and not surprisingly the survival of outmigrating juveniles through the hydrosystem has been better than usual. The rate at which fish pass through the system limits their survival, and when high runoff keeps river temperatures cool, fish experience less metabolic stress and predation by invasive warm water fish is kept to a minimum.

That's why there had been some concern until recently that this winter's La Nina had yet to deliver it's promised, wintry punch. Fast forward two weeks and the situation looks very different. After the latest round of winter storms the snow water equivalent packed in the mountains of the interior Columbia Basin jumped almost 10%, and with more rainfall yet to come there is hope that this years runoff could be more than adequate to safely pass another generation of juveniles to the ocean.

More in the Columbia Basin Bulletin:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Hydropower Threatens Harrison Area Creeks

"Small" hydro power has devastated large portions of the Ashlu River

The British Columbia Environmental Assessment office is accepting comment on proposed hydro projects on several Harrison Lake area creeks, including one proposed for Big Silver Creek, an important spawning tributary for steelhead, coho, sockeye and cutthroat trout. Thanks to a government initiative which favors private power developers by forcing BC hydro to sign uncompetitive contracts, BC has seen a massive push for small private hydropower developments on creeks throughout the province. These projects generate energy divert water from creeks, often depriving a creek of more than 50% of its flow during the dry season for several kilometers. Despite official statements that no hydro would be developed in streams that supported anadromous fish, these projects have repeatedly been placed in critical salmon and steelhead habitat.

In December the BC environmental assessment office approved a similar project on Vancouver Island's Kokish River, which will dewater 9 kilometers of important summer steelhead, coho and dolly varden habitat. The project still must be approved DFO however and environmental groups have sworn to fight the destructive project to the bitter end.

Perhaps the most notorious example is a project on the Ashlu River which was developed despite widespread local opposition by the passage of Bill 30 which gives the provincial government the authority to circumvent local communities when developing hydro projects. It is critical that the BC public stand up and state emphatically that they will not tolerate the destruction of salmon bearing rivers to promote these economically dubious hydroprojects. Submit comments before February 5th and tell the BC government no hydro in salmon bearing watersheds of Harrison Lake.

you can also submit comments on the Kokish project here:

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Fish Farm Industry Lawsuit Seeks to Muzzle Free Speach

Mainstream canada is suing over this image and others

Norwegian owned Mainstream Canada, BC's second largest fish farming company is suing Canadian wild fish advocate Don Staniford for "defamatory and false statements" about the fish farming industry. As the impact of salmon farming has become apparent, opposition to the practice of open net pen salmon farming has grown exponentially and public approval of the salmon aquaculture industry has plummeted. Thanks to the efforts of environmental watchdog organizations and individuals like Staniford, the visibility of the issue has grown tremendously putting pressure on a government which has long enjoyed a warm relationship with the aquaculture industry, to institute real reform. This latest move by Mainstream is simply an attempt to silence their critics through brute force, using their stockpile of corporate resources to bring a frivolous lawsuit against a dedicated, and legitimate critic of their practices.

More information in an article from the Province:

check out to get the facts.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Action Needed: Rally For Wild Fish In Salem Tomorrow

Tomorrow is a big day for wild salmon and steelhead in Oregon. For the first time ever State legislators will hold a hearing on the impact of hatchery salmon, with testimony coming from leading biologists and economists on the subject. The hearing will give important visibility to an issue rarely debated in the public sphere and it is critical that we seize the opportunity. Not surprisingly there is a vocal minority of hatchery advocates who oppose the hearings and the conclusions they will logically draw. These members of the angling community insist, despite countless research publications to the contrary, that hatchery supplementation is the only way of achieving healthy wild populations of salmon and sustaining fisheries. This is patently false, and it is critical that wild fish advocates turn out en masse to show their support for the hearings.

Rob Russel, author and wild fish advocate is organizing a rally to be held starting at 8am tomorrow morning on the steps of the Capitol building in Salem. Please turn out if possible to show your support and help Rob and others spread the message: Wild is the Future!

Correction. Rob Russel is not an fishing guide. He is the Native Fish Society Nehalem River Steward, and a devoted wild fish advocate.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Hatcheries Taking Center Stage in the Oregon State Legislature

This week, for the first time ever, the Oregon Legislature will hold a hearing on the economic and ecological effects of hatcheries. Thanks in large part to the efforts of the Native Fish Society, hatchery policy is taking center stage in the debate around wild fish recovery in the State of Oregon. The hearing will take place at 8:30 AM on Wednesday January 18th at the Capitol building in Salem. Interested parties are encouraged to attend the hearing which will include testimony from experts such as former assistant director of ODFW and noted author Jim Lichatowich, Natural Resource Economist Dr. Hans Radtke, and Dr. Peter Paquet Senior Biologist and Wildlife director with the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.

For directions to the Capitol building click here.

and for those unable to attend, you can listed to the hearing live by following this link.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Documentary Film SPOIL on Enbridge Pipeline

Check out this amazing documentary film, SPOIL focused on the coastal ecosystem of British Columbia's Central Coast and the threat posed by the Enbridge Pipeline. Hearings are underway in Kitimat and Terrace to hear public testimony on the pipeline plan, however the proposal has the support of the Prime Minister Stephen Harper leading many the conclude that despite a strong unified opposition to the plan it will go through.

Submit your comments on the proposed Enbridge Pipeline today!

SPOIL from EP Films on Vimeo.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Dammed if We Don't

An eloquent and well thought out essay from Patagonia founder and long time Wild Salmon lover Yvon Chouinard on the need to turn the tide of dam building. He points out that while US dam building movement has lost some of its steam, we're still a long way from undoing the harm done by dams in this country, and globally, the short sighted endeavor of impounding rivers is still going at full tilt.

The four Lower Snake Dams remain as the greatest impediments to wild salmon recovery in the Columbia Basin, but every passing year is a wasted opportunity, a missed chance to get a step ahead of the climate change and all the other stressors which threaten our wild fish.

Read Yvon's essay at the Patagonia website:

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Video: USGS Salmon Disease Research

check out this video from the USGS on their Western Fisheries Research Center in Seattle. The video includes an interview with Jim Winton chief of the fish health section at the center and includes some good quotes on the ongoing effort to identify and understand Infectious Salmon Anemia Virus and it's implications for wild salmon populations.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Hearings Underway on Enbridge Pipeline

Hearings on the controversial Enbridge Pipeline got underway in Kitimat last week with more than 2000 people signing up to submit testimony. The pipeline which would carry tar sands oil with the BC coast, would cross the Fraser, Skeena and several of its tributaries before being loaded onto oil tankers at Kitimat. The tankers would then carry oil through the treacherous Douglas Channel and along the pristine Central Coast of BC, one of the worlds largest tracts of undeveloped coastline and temperate rain forest. Opponents of the plan argue that the route posses an existential threat to the ecosystems which could be potentially impacted and that given the history of oil pipelines (including those owned by Enbridge who had 804 spills between 1999 and 2010) it is only a matter of time before a spill happens. Among the principle opponents to the pipeline are first nations groups who have unanimously opposed the pipeline because of the threat it poses to the health of the regions ecosystem, an ecosystem which still sustains them both literally and metaphorically.

Proponents of the pipeline including Prime Minister Stephen Harper have recently complained about an influx of money from international environmental groups who support the opposition's cause. However, they have had no complaints about the massive amount of lobbying money being poured into the discussion by multinational oil giants on the other side.

More information on the hearings from the globe and mail:

and from the Vancouver Sun:

Submit your own comments:

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Puget Sound Rivers Closing Early

For the third consecutive year WDFW has opted to close the rivers of Puget Sound early to protect wild steelhead. Traditionally the rivers of Puget Sound supported well loved sport fisheries for wild winter steelhead throughout the spring. However poor returns in recent years have pushed runs to all time lows, resulting in a 2007 listing under the Endangered Species Act and forcing WDFW to implement stringent restrictions on sport fisheries. Unfortunately, simply closing sports fishing will not bring back populations of wild steelhead, and more needs to be done to understand and address factors that have contributed to their decline. In the long term habitat destruction has eroded the productive capacity of our Puget Sound Rivers, but in recent years biologists believe poor marine survival is among the principle factors depressing wild steelhead abundance. More information in a press release from department.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Elwha Recovery Plan in Winter Fly Rod and Reel

Ted Williams, conservation writer for Fly Rod and Real has an excellent article on the Elwha in the latest edition of the magazine. Williams did his due diligence, interviewed people on all sides of the issue and produced a very revealing and honest, albeit depressing piece on the Elwha Fish Recovery plan and the threats it poses to wild fish in the basin. Check out the article at the Fly Rod and Reel website:

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Elwha Event at the Seattle REI

Next week American Rivers and American Whitewater are celebrating the removal of the Elwha Dams with an evening dedicated to the restoration and recovery of the Elwha River. Highlights of the evening include the premier of the film Year of the River by film maker Andy Maser, which highlights the Elwha Recovery, talks by biologists from the National Park Service and the US Geological Service and a Q&A session hosted by Seattle Time's environment reporter Lynda Mapes. The event is next Wednesday January 11th at the Seattle REI located at 222 Yale Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109. Hope to see you there!

Remember you can track the progress of the removal through a series of webcams at the Elwha Restoration Project website:

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Bill Seeks Expansion of Rogue River Wilderness

A pair of bills introduced earlier this fall are seeking to expand the amount of Wilderness along the Oregon coast by approximately 90 thousand acres. The first proposal would establish the Devil's Staircase wilderness on 30 thousand acres of land along Wasson Creek on the Central Oregon Coast while the second would add an additional 58 thousand acres of land to the Wild Rouge wilderness. The Rogue is home to both winter and summer steelhead, spring and fall chinook as well as coho salmon and is among the largest, most productive rivers in Oregon. Both bills are progressing through congress, and we will keep you updated on their progress.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Hanford Reach Home to More than 60,000 Wild Chinook

The resilience of salmon in the Columbia never ceases to amaze. After a century of dam building only 45 miles of free flowing Columbia River remains, protected within the Hanford Reach national monument in Eastern Washington. Concentrated within those 45 miles though is one of the largest spawning aggregations of wild chinook salmon in the world, a reminder of how productive the mainstem habitats of the free flowing Columbia River must have been. This year more than 60,000 chinook spawned in the Hanford Reach, and with flow management tailored to improve the survival of incubating eggs the future appears bright for wild salmon in the reach. More information in the Columbia Basin Bulletin: