IN THIS ISSUE
- THANK YOU FROM ALL OF US AT WASHINGTON TROUT
- HELP SUPPORT WASHINGTON TROUT ADVOCACY
- WASHINGTON TROUT TESTIFIES FOR CONGRESSIONAL FIELD-HEARING ON SALMON HARVEST
- CARNATION WASTE WATER TREATMENT PLANT DISCHARGE WILL HARM WILD FISH
- WASHINGTON TROUT STALLS HATCHERY EXPANSION ON CHEWUCH RIVER
- WASHINGTON TROUT STAFF PUBLISHED IN THE JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY
- EARLY DATA ANALYSIS OF THE WEST WHIDBEY NEARSHORE PROJECT
- ELLIS AND SCHNEIDER CREEK RECOLONIZATION STUDY, PHASE I
- FRENCH CREEK VIDEO MONITORING PROJECT
- WASHINGTON TROUT PRESENTS FINDINGS AT COASTAL CUTTHROAT TROUT SYMPOSIUM
- WASHINGTON TROUT STAFF PILOTS WINDOWS TO DISCOVERY PROGRAM
- James Prosek Book Signing Event to Benefit Washington Trout
- Save the Date – 15th Annual ‘Wild Fish Soiree’ to be held on May 13th, 2006
- SHOP THE WASHINGTON TROUT STORE THIS HOLIDAY SEASON AND HELP SAVE WILD FISH!
Wild Fish Runs is a bi-monthly publication for Wild Fish Conservancy members and supporters to provide program updates and networking assistance. The Wild Fish Conservancy is a conservation-ecology organization dedicated to the recovery and conservation of the Northwest’s wild-fish ecosystems. Since 1989, the Wild Fish Conservancy has sought to improve conditions for all of the region’s wild fish through science, education and advocacy. The Wild Fish Conservancy is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.
15629 Main St NE
Duvall, WA 98019
Want to get more involved? The Wild Fish Conservancy appreciates your support and can use your volunteer help in a number of ways including the annual benefit auction, educational programs, office assistance, staffing booths at public events, and participating in membership campaigns and other special events. Please contact the office at 425-788-1167 if you would like to volunteer or have an event you would like mentioned in Wild Fish Runs or on the website.
The holidays are right around the corner and during this season, giving comes in many forms. Washington Trout depends upon your generosity to fund our work to preserve and protect wild fish and we would like to thank all of you who make our work possible. From cash donations which support our research, restoration and advocacy projects to donations of material goods and services, every gift to WT makes an impact on wild fish conservation.
WT would like to thank Monika Kannadaguli and her family of Sammamish, WA, who donated approximately 30 downed trees and stumps from their property to WT for use as large woody debris on the North Fork of Cherry Creek Restoration Project. We would also like to thank Scott Dutro, owner of Maple Ridge Excavating, who added an additional 20 trees and stumps and donated the delivery of this material to the Cherry Creek restoration site. All of this material will be used to create in-stream fish habitat for adult and juvenile fish, maintain cooler water temperatures and trap sediment to help restore the creek’s natural processes. The donated wood will significantly reduce the cost of the project, which will begin in the summer of 2006.
WT also received an extraordinary gift from longtime supporters Michael and Myrna Darland of Bellevue, WA. The Darlands’ donated forty acres of riverfront property along the lower Skagit. We are very excited about the potential of building a research and education center on a portion of the property. This addition would significantly contribute to and expand WT’s existing programs.
The WT staff is grateful for every donation we receive and would like to encourage you to take a moment to read about the projects your donations help to fund. Giving to WT this season is made even easier with the following opportunities to work and shop for wild fish.
Three Ways You can Work for Wild Fish:
Washington State Combined Fund Drive (CFD) – If you are a Washington state employee, including City of Seattle employees, you can direct a donation to Washington Trout through the Washington State Combined Fund Drive. Simply note our organization number: 315054on your payroll deduction form or head to the CFD website by December 31st to set-up giving options for the 2006 fiscal year. Your monthly donation provides much needed, sustainable and predictable funding for WT’s emergency programs.
United Way – It is that time of year again when employees have the option of directing their designating United Way dollars to the nonprofit organizations of their choice. Many private employers and all Washington state Federal employees use the United Way to distribute donations. If your employer participates with the United Way we hope you will remember to write in “Washington Trout” in the designated giving section on your donation form. Since Washington Trout is not a United Way member agency, we do not receive any funding from the Community Safety Net fund unless individuals designate their gifts to Washington Trout. If you have any questions, please contact Kristen Durance, Membership Coordinator, at 425-788-1167.
Work-Place Giving– If your employer does not participate in the United Way workplace giving program they still may allow you to direct money to the non-profit of your choice. Companies like Microsoft, REI and many others choose to organize their own employee donation programs where paycheck dollars are directed to non-profit organizations. Are you unsure of the policies of your employer? Then contact the appropriate payroll staff and ask about workplace giving and let them know you would like to direct dollars to WT – if the option is not available then talk to your employer about starting one. It is a wonderful opportunity to showcase your employers dedication to environmental issues!
Now you can shop for Wild Fish too!
You can always support Wild Fish by shopping at the WT Store in Duvall and now you can also support WT every time you go to the grocery store. If you shop for groceries at any Washington state Albertson’s location then every dollar you spend can help save Wild Fish! Simply designate Washington Trout as your non-profit of choice on your Albertson’s Preferred Savings card and use it every time you shop. Each dollar spent helps to direct funds towards WT’s Environmental Discovery Program – a three day, hands-on science program for 4th and 5th graders in King and Snohomish County. If you have any questions about this program please contact Kristen Durance by email or phone at 425-788-1167, or print and fill out this form and take it to your neighborhood Albertson’s. It’s an easy and quick way to help Washington Trout!
WILD SALMON RECOVERY INITIATIVE
What exactly does Washington Trout want? We say we “advocate” for wild fish; what does that mean?
Put most broadly, Washington Trout advocates for socially responsible and scientifically credible wild-fish conservation. We want risks acknowledged and addressed, data responded to appropriately, laws obeyed, and conservation-responsibilities distributed objectively, even when it’s inconvenient for powerful stakeholders.
Please consider making an individual donation to support Washington Trout’s advocacy campaigns. We depend on direct support from members and donors to keep WT advocacy effective.
The Wild Salmon Recovery Initiative is Washington Trout's largest advocacy program; its goal is to influence federal, state, and local agencies to effectively recover and conserve salmonid populations and ecosystems listed under the Endangered Species Act. The program has added teeth and accountability to processes that otherwise might have been pro forma and ineffective, and replaced inaction with forward progress. Washington Trout has made harvest management for listed salmon more transparent, and fought back increases in allowable harvest-impacts for listed steelhead. We’re strengthening land-use and water-quality regulations, and raising the bar for acceptable hatchery management. However, listed salmon, steelhead, and bull trout populations continue to be jeopardized by the failure of public agencies to meet their responsibilities. Recovery is still being frustrated by political delay and inappropriate action.
WT will participate in many processes that can be reliably anticipated and scheduled, Listing Decisions, Recovery Plans, Environmental Impact Statements, Biological Opinions, and Habitat Conservation Plans. But conservation challenges and opportunities can develop unexpectedly and rapidly, requiring the capacity to respond more spontaneously. It is vitally important that technically credible conservation advocates participate in as many of these circumstances and processes as necessary. Without credible advocacy for healthy wild-fish ecosystems, agencies will likely be unduly influenced by timber, development, agricultural, industrial, hydro-electric, fisheries, and/or other economic interests.
WT coordinates its advocacy with a broad coalition of national and regional conservation organizations, including American Rivers, Audubon Society, Earth Justice, Endangered Species Coalition, National Wildlife Federation, Native Fish Society, Oregon Natural Resources Council, Oregon Trout, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, Trout Unlimited, Wild Steelhead Coalition,and others. Conservation advocates rely on Washington Trout for its technical expertise in wild-salmon ecology and management, and we will continue to work closely with our coalition partners on strategies including litigation, public outreach, and agency advocacy.
It sounds romantic, like we’re always mounting barricades, or at least pounding on lecterns. But it involves serious, time-consuming work: analyzing and drafting reviews of policy proposals; watch-dogging agencies; participating on recovery forums and technical-review teams; working directly with resource-management officials; developing information/action campaigns; litigating where necessary. To be successful, this work requires close examination, painstaking research, careful consideration, thorough consultation, credibility with policy leaders, and persistence. Washington Trout has the experience, knowledge, and passion necessary to get the job done, and we’ve developed collegial professional relationships in the academic and conservation communities, with social and economic stakeholders, and with key staff at relevant local, state, tribal, and federal agencies.
Your Support is Vital
Because WT advocacy has been so effective, it has enjoyed significant support from private institutions including the Bullitt, Flintridge, Horizons, and Kongsgaard Goldman Foundations, and Northwest Fund for the Environment. But we also rely on support from our membership, drawn from the conservation, recreational, academic, fisheries, and professional resource-management communities, as well as the general public.
We gratefully acknowledge the past and ongoing support we’ve received from all sources, but especially from our membership and individual donors. Direct support from members and donors is extremely important for effective advocacy because it provides the most flexibility. A successful advocacy campaign has to tolerate some unpredictability in anticipating and scheduling specific tasks.
Large institutional grants are often “restricted,” that is, the money must be spent on tasks outlined in the grant application. This works well when we need funding to challenge an anticipated policy-decision like NOAA Fisheries’ inadequate Critical Habitat Designation for all listed salmon and steelhead, or to review the Final Listing Decision for Puget Sound steelhead, the “Shared Strategy” recovery plan for PS Chinook, or the Draft Environmental Impact Statements for Columbia River salmon and steelhead hatcheries, all scheduled for release by particular deadlines.
But sometimes events take unexpected turns, or a local issue off our immediate radar screen can develop into an important opportunity. A congressional delegation starts investigating the role of salmon-harvest in recovery management; the proposed installation of a fish weir on a small tributary in eastern Washington provides an opportunity to influence how hatcheries are managed under the ESA; or a proposed sewage-treatment discharge mobilizes a community to protect a river and its wild-fish legacy. To be consistently successful, an advocacy campaign needs a base of flexible funding to take advantage of unanticipated opportunities, or meet unforeseen challenges.
Please read the following articles (WT Testifies for Congressional Field-Hearing on Salmon Harvest; Carnation Waste Water Treatment Plant Discharge will harm Wild Fish; WT Stalls Hatchery Expansion on Chewuch River) about several individual WT advocacy projects. They summarize a few examples of the work being accomplished at WT, and they illustrate several important points. First, that while opportunities do develop quickly, success requires the depth provided by hard work, experience, and expertise; second, that WT’s reputation for credibility has earned it respect from policy leaders; and finally, that without the type of support WT receives from members and donors, we might not have been able to respond effectively to all these opportunities and challenges.
Make a Donation for Effective Advocacy
Please consider directly supporting WT advocacy. By making an individual donation, you’ll be working for wild fish every day, mounting barricades and pounding on lecterns with us.
Donate what you can afford, $25, $50, $100, $1000 or more; join our monthly-giving program and spread your donation over however long you prefer, giving you the opportunity to give more conveniently. You can make an on-line donation this minute by simply clicking here. Let us know that you want to support our advocacy campaign, and your tax deductible contribution will go directly to helping WT staff ensure that wild-fish management in Washington is as thorough, responsible, transparent, and scientifically credible as possible.
On October 12, 2005 Washington Trout was invited to testify at a Congressional Field Hearing organized by US Congressman Norm Dicks (D; Bremerton, WA), to offer its perspective on current salmon harvest management, and the recovery of salmon and steelhead populations listed under the Endangered Species Act. The hearing brought together stakeholders from the management, fishing, and conservation communities to discuss issues surrounding attempts to reform salmon-harvest management in the Northwest.
The hearing, open to the public, was held on the Tacoma Campus of the University of Washington. Four separate panels offered testimony to congressmen Dicks, Brian Baird (D, WA), and Greg Walden (R, OR): 1) federal and state fisheries managers; 2) international, regional, and tribal fisheries councils; 3) economic and jurisdictional stakeholders; 4) the conservation community.
The congressmen made no secret of their skepticism regarding current harvest practices and the justifications offered by managers. All three were specifically concerned at how the ESA could accommodate direct harvest mortality on listed populations. During several panels, each congressman pointed out that it is explicitly illegal to kill even one of virtually any other listed species. NOAA Regional Administrator Bob Lohn, testifying on the first panel, conceded that the agency was in “new territory,” but he testified that NOAA believes it can reconcile salmon harvest with recovery management and ESA enforcement.
Harvest managers argued that virtually all effort should be focused on habitat, that harvest has already been reduced, and that further reductions weren’t necessary and would likely not contribute to recovery. All three congressmen and virtually every panelist agreed that habitat damage and loss has been a central factor in salmon declines, and that habitat restoration and protection should remain a top priority. But testimony from other panelists, including a representative of King County and a former Director of the Washington Department of Fisheries, cast doubt on the accuracy and reliability of fisheries managers’ data, or expressed confusion and concern regarding specific harvest-management approaches.
out that while harvest rates have been reduced, rates on many listed stocks
remain significant. Congressman Baird cited a recent review by the
federally-appointed Independent Scientific Advisory Board, which found that
harvest-management data was dominated by a high degree of uncertainty,
impairing managers’ ability to accurately predict future run sizes, monitor
harvest impacts, determine spawning levels, or analyze population trends. The
congressman and many panelists expressed dismay and doubt regarding the
assertion that harvest reductions would not contribute to recovery.
Washington Trout’s testimony focused on how current harvest-management practices are likely jeopardizing salmon recovery, and the unwillingness of NOAA Fisheries to address or even acknowledge the criticism or recommendations of its own science-review panel. (Full text of WT comments.)
Current salmon-harvest management relies on the justification that habitat capacity is being fully seeded by existing spawning levels, that if harvest was cut so that more fish spawned, there would be no room for the extra juveniles in the available habitat, and population abundance would not increase. But on close examination this argument turns out to be unconvincing.
Nobody could reasonably challenge that current habitat capacity is significantly reduced from historical levels. But harvest managers are asserting that habitat is so limited that increasing the level of spawning would not increase salmon productivity. Most independent researchers maintain that the only effective way to test that hypothesis would be to allow spawning levels significantly higher than current targets for at least two salmon generations, roughly ten to twelve years. That has of course never been done, and in fact most populations have suffered from chronic under-spawning while still being subjected to harvest impacts.
In November 2001, NOAA’s own independent review body, the Salmon Recovery Scientific Review Panel, issued an unusually sharp report, harshly critical of current harvest management for listed salmon and steelhead. The panel said they were “mystified” how managers could justify what the panel called “biologically unsustainable” harvest levels on ESA-listed salmon. They bluntly admonished NOAA Fisheries to develop a more “rational policy.”
In 2002, NOAA dismissed and attempted to discredit the panel’s report, but declared its intention to issue a “technical response.” Over three years later, NOAA has not issued that response, while it continues to employ the same policies, techniques, and rationales so harshly criticized by its own science-review panel.
We urged the congressmen to use their influence to press NOAA on these issues, expressed our appreciation for the opportunity to present our perspective, and respectfully offered our continued assistance.
Focus on a Critical Issue
Washington Trout applauds congressional effort to seek progress and focus attention on the critical issue of salmon harvest. Many factors have contributed to the decline of wild-fish populations in Washington and the Northwest. Harvest reform alone will not recover listed salmon and steelhead, and habitat protection and recovery should continue to be a lynchpin of the region’s recovery efforts. But it is unquestionably true that current harvest management is jeopardizing salmon recovery.
Washington Trout continues to advocate for a better solution for the disposal of the City of Carnation’s sewage treatment plant effluent. The City of Carnation and King County are planning on constructing an entire sewage collection system and treatment plant for the city, which is located at the confluence of the Tolt and Snoqualmie rivers. The plant is due to be operational by the end of 2007. The current proposal includes a direct discharge of sewage effluent into the Snoqualmie River, directly upstream of “Chinook Bend,” one of the more productive spawning areas in the River. In October, we commented on the Shorelines Management Act permit application, as well as the federal Environmental Assessment (the US EPA is funding in part the conveyance system, so they must comply with the National Environmental Policy Act).
Given that King County and the City have been discussing the need for a sewage treatment plant since at least 1988, the proposal to use the river seems particularly unimaginative and risky. Even though the plant will achieve a high level of treatment, the risk of a plant failure or malfunction has not been adequately analyzed. There are uncertainties about normal operation as well. Science simply does not have all the answers regarding the effects of certain trace pollutants on developing Chinook salmon. We must also consider the increased pollution from the increased development that construction of the system will facilitate. This proposal will result in lower water quality in the Snoqualmie River.
King County says they do not want the effluent discharged to the river, either. Their “Phase II” of the project proposes to discharge the effluent to a wetland near Chinook Bend, on the former Nestle property. We are concerned, however, that once the county receives all the permits needed for the river discharge, then implementing a wetland discharge will become a low priority, or may be forgotten about altogether.
The county says they are willing to work with WT on finding a safer method of effluent disposal. We are willing to listen and work with them, but we are also keeping all of our options open, including legal action if necessary, in order to protect the ESA-listed Chinook salmon and bull trout of the Snoqualmie River.
The Douglas County PUD and Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife are proposing to expand an existing hatchery-supplementation program in the Methow Basin for Upper Columbia River spring chinook, listed as Endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The program currently collects brood stock and plants smolts in the mainstem Methow and the Twisp River, a major basin-tributary. WDFW and the PUD have been frustrated in attempts to collect brood stock in another major tributary, the Chewuch, by what they call an inadequate collection facility at an existing irrigation dam. They have proposed installing an automated fish-trap weir in the lower reach of the Chewuch to capture wild spring chinook adults to use as brood stock for smolt plants back into the Chewuch.
The proposal is part of an agreement to grant Douglas County ESA authorization for operating the Wells Dam on the Columbia River. Wells Dam is responsible for a known amount of harm to listed chinook and other species, including Endangered steelhead and Threatened bull trout. In order to operate the dam without ESA liability, Douglas County has developed and agreed to the terms of a Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP), which includes measures intended to minimize and mitigate the harm caused by the dam. Under the HCP, Douglas County will undertake operational modifications at the dam, habitat restoration activities, and the production of hatchery salmon and steelhead.
In late summer 2005, Peter Morrison of the Pacific Biodiversity Institute in Winthrop, WA contacted WT regarding the proposed weir and the expanded supplementation program. Douglas County’s Habitat Conservation Plan had received federal approval, and they had an agreement with a local landowner to place the fish trap. But the Chewuch River is in Okanogan County. Douglas County and WDFW still needed Okanogan County permits before they could install the weir. Mr. Morrison was looking for credible technical support for his concerns about the proposed program and about hatchery supplementation in general, that he could present to officials and the local public during the permitting process. He was particularly concerned that Douglas County and WDFW officials had oversold the project’s value in recovering local salmon runs.
On September 21, Washington Trout addressed a letter to the Pacific Biodiversity Institute, outlining our skepticism that expanding hatchery-supplementation in the Chewuch can contribute to chinook recovery in the Methow Basin. We summarized the findings of three federally appointed science review panels that hatchery supplementation runs a high risk of reducing the fitness of wild populations, and we recommended an alternative way to reconcile ESA authorization for Wells Dam and chinook conservation in the Chewuch.
Risks of Supplementation
Hatchery supplementation is extremely risky, unproven, and subject to a great amount of scientific controversy. Three federally-appointed independent review bodies, the Salmon Recovery Science Review Panel, Independent Scientific Advisory Board, and Independent Science Review Panel, have each issued reports warning about the high level of risk that supplementation will produce fish with lowered reproductive fitness; each hatchery-origin spawner will produce fewer returning adults (recruits) per individual than its wild counterpart. All three panels characterized supplementation as “experimental,” and an October 2005 ISRP report bluntly concluded that “some supplementation projects will likely provide no actual conservation benefit and some… may also pose a sizable obstacle to recovery of ESA-listed stocks.”
When hatchery juveniles – even those born directly from wild brood stock – migrate into the ocean, they suffer survival rates often lower than 1%. Naturally spawned wild juveniles generally display survival rates during the smolt/adult life-stage of around 5% to 15%. The relatively higher smolt/adult survival of wild salmon is moderated by egg/smolt survival in the wild environment that is usually below 15%. The low smolt/adult survival of the hatchery fish is overcome by an almost 90% egg/smolt survival ratio in the hatchery environment, and the adult/recruit ratio of hatchery-spawned salmon is actually higher than wild fish.
But when hatchery-origin adults spawn in the wild, they produce juveniles less likely to return and spawn. Without 90% egg/smolt survival to balance lowered smolt/adult survival, fewer and fewer fish make the round trip each succeeding generation. Worse, when hatchery-origin adults spawn with natural-origin adults, the genetic traits that influence smolt/adult survival can be eroded in the wild population, compromising its ability to overcome low egg/smolt survival in the wild environment.
The supplemented population runs a very high risk of becoming adapted to conditions it can never find in the wild (very high early life-stage survival). Eventually, the wild recruit/adult ratio will fall below 1:1, turning some populations that may have been capable of barely holding on into rapidly declining populations destined for extinction, or permanent hatchery intervention. Instead of conserving a local salmon run, supplementation will have turned it into a population that cannot exist on its own.
Since hatchery supplementation is such a risky experiment, all projects should include scientifically credible measures to evaluate whether or not they are achieving their objectives without producing intolerable harmful impacts. The ISRP, ISAB, and RSRP have all recommended approaches for monitoring supplementation programs in paired experiments with unsupplemented control streams.
Washington Trout believes Douglas County should seek ESA-authorization in exchange for creating a framework for evaluating current Methow supplementation efforts. We recommended that the PUD abandon the proposed weir and establish the Chewuch as an unsupplemented control for the basin.
On September 28, the local Methow Valley News reported that Douglas County had suspended its application for an Okanogan County conditional-use permit to install the weir when a private landowner withdrew his consent for the PUD to build the fish trap on his property. According to a spokesman for Douglas County quoted in the MVN, if the PUD does not come to terms with the landowner, it “could effectively kill the project.”
The MVN quoted Peter Morrison’s comments opposing the project, and the front page article included extensive passages from WT’s letter to Pacific Biodiversity Institute. Quotes in the MVN suggested a sense among some area residents that Douglas County had not provided adequate information about the potential benefits and risks of the project.
“The more I learn about this fish trap the less I like it,” said one property owner; “all of the proponents are funded by the Douglas County PUD.”
Peter Morrison communicated independently to Washington Trout that the information provided in our letter had influenced the landowner’s decision to deny access for the weir project.
The WDFW Region 6 Director contacted Washington Trout, requesting a meeting to discuss our September 11 letter. On October 14, WT science and advocacy staff met in East Wenatchee with representatives from WDFW, Douglas County PUD, NOAA Fisheries, US Fish and Wildlife Service, other PUDs, and the Yakama and Colville Nations.
WDFW and Douglas County reaffirmed their anxiety that without landowner approval, they could not expand supplementation in the Chewuch. They presented specific information about the project, its motivations, objectives, and proposed practices.
While Washington Trout is sympathetic to the management challenges faced by WDFW, Douglas County, and all relevant jurisdictions in the Upper Columbia Basin, we are committed to advocating for scientifically credible, biologically responsible salmon-recovery management. We pressed our recommendation that Douglas County and WDFW explore the feasibility of establishing the Chewuch as an unsupplemented control for the Methow Basin, and expressed our conviction that this alternative approach would facilitate the credible evaluation of current supplementation efforts in the Methow Basin, conceivably earn ESA-authorization for Douglas County, and provide a better opportunity for recovering listed salmon.
At this time the Chewuch hatchery-supplementation proposal appears to be stalled.
HABITAT RESTORATION, RESEARCH, AND PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT
WT’s Dr. Eliot Drucker has authored a study, appearing in
the December 2005 issue of The Journal of Experimental Biology, on the swimming
behavior and hydrodynamics of rainbow trout.
Prior to joining WT, Dr. Drucker conducted research at the University of
California on how fish generate forces with their fins for fast swimming and
slow maneuvering. His current paper
examines the role of the trout dorsal and adipose fins in producing thrust and
maintaining body stability. These fins,
along with the tail, are used simultaneously by trout for propulsion or for
fine control of body position in the face of turbulent flows. Read an overview of the study and its
primary findings at http://jeb.biologists.org/cgi/content/full/208/23/i. The full report may be viewed here.
This past field season Washington Trout crews surveyed the nearshore waters of Admiralty Inlet on Whidbey Island for juvenile salmonid presence (see Wild Fish Runs, July/05, Sep/05; Washington Trout Report, Spring 05). From February through August, crews sampled ten sites that represent the range of habitats available to juvenile salmon as they migrate along the western shore of Whidbey Island from natal rivers to the Pacific Ocean. Sample sites included open beaches, cuspate forelands, coastal barrier marshes, estuaries, and lagoons.
Since the end of the field season, project investigators have been busy analyzing the collected data, and preparing a final report for release early this winter. In the meantime we thought WT members would be interested in the preliminary results. The information provided by the project will help managers and funders develop and prioritize recovery strategies and habitat protection and restoration initiatives in Puget Sound.
Like all WT research initiatives, the West Whidbey Nearshore project has been made possible in large part by direct support from our membership. Without your help, Washington Trout might not be able to contribute as effectively to developing the knowledge base necessary to successfully conserve and recover Washington’s wild-fish ecosystems. Please consider making a tax deductible donation to Washington Trout’s research programs.
To determine juvenile salmon presence, WT staff utilized a long, heavy net called a beach seine. For this project two types of beach seines were employed. A large net beach seine, 120’ long and 12’ deep, was used at deep water sites and open beaches, while a small net, 80’ long and 6’ deep, was used to sample shallow sites with more complex habitat structure. Figure 1 shows the catch per unit of effort for juvenile salmon at all sites, across the entire field season using the large net, while Figure 2 shows the catch per unit effort for juvenile salmon at all sites, across the entire field season using the small net. Chum salmon were the most common juvenile salmon caught at all sites, while coho salmon were the least common.
In addition to juvenile salmonids, Washington Trout crews collected data regarding all fish species encountered during the surveys. These data were used to calculate species-diversity indices for each site. Figure 3 shows the Shannon-Wiener Diversity Index score for each of the ten sampled sites. This metric is based on a combination of species richness (total number of species encountered) and species evenness (site dominance by a few species). The potential diversity for a given site is designated H’ Max, directly related to species richness, while J’ is the measured evenness.
Keystone Harbor had a high H’ Max because numerous different species were encountered there, giving it a high level of species richness; however, the measured S-W Diversity Score was relatively low because the species-evenness scores were low. Catch totals at Keystone were dominated by a few species, most notably three-spine stickle back and herring. Keystone Harbor was one of the more disturbed habitats sampled in this project, with regular dredging occurring in the sample area for the adjacent ferry terminal. A common observation is that species communities subjected to ecological stressors experience increased abundances of a few species best suited to disturbed environments, which lowers the evenness score. In contrast, the South Whidbey Creek site, located in a relatively undisturbed stretch of the coast, had an almost identical potential diversity (species richness) score as Keystone Harbor, but measured diversity was much higher because the catch totals were not dominated by one or two species, and were more evenly spread across all species.
Approximately 8% of the juvenile chinook caught during the project were marked with Coded Wire Tags (CWTs). These tags identify the stock and river of origin for tagged fish, usually hatchery salmon. Figure 4 shows the stock and river of origin for the 53 juvenile Chinook sampled with recovered CWTs. Eleven percent of the recovered CWT fish were from river’s draining into the Hood Canal Watershed, indicating that these fish crossed Admiralty Inlet to utilize habitats along Whidbey’s western shore. Twenty-eight percent of the recovered CWT fish were from the three rivers draining into the Whidbey Basin: the Skagit, Stillaguamish, and Snohomish River systems. One of the recovered fish had a British Columbia tag; however, we have not been able to determine the stock and river of origin for this fish. Fourteen percent of the recovered fish were from the Samish River which drains into the North Puget Sound.
Interestingly, none of the recovered CWT fish were from south Puget Sound river basins, such as the Puyallup or Nisqually. This could be a result of small sample sizes, hatchery release timing, sample timing, or could indicate that juvenile chinook from these basins are not occupying habitats on the western shore of Whidbey Island in the same abundances as fish from the Hood Canal, Whidbey Basin, and North Puget Sound.
The West Whidbey Nearshore project is providing valuable information about the needs and behavior of juvenile salmon migrating and rearing in Puget Sound, and the conditions they experience in various nearshore habitats. This information will influence and help guide recovery and conservation efforts throughout the region. Your direct support makes this and similar projects possible. Please consider making an individual donation to support WT research.
Please donate whatever you can afford, whether it’s $25 or $1000; join our monthly-giving program to spread your donation over time, giving you the opportunity to give more, more conveniently. Or make an on-line donation this minute by simply clicking here. Let us know that you want to support our research programs, and your tax deductible contribution will go directly toward cutting-edge field research aimed at ensuring that wild-fish management in Washington is as scientifically responsible and potentially effective as possible.
Within the next several years the City of Olympia intends to restore fish passage at two significant fish-barrier culverts located at the mouths of Ellis and Schneider Creeks. The culverts prevent or compromise the upstream migration of the anadromous fish that were historically present in these streams. As part of WT’s ongoing effort to work with local agencies on removing barriers to fish passage, we have partnered with the City of Olympia to conduct a multi-year study on assessing the effectiveness of fish-passage restoration.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife estimates that the Ellis culvert is currently 67% passable, while the Schneider culvert is a complete barrier. There are significant amounts of salmonid spawning and rearing habitat upstream from the barrier culverts in both watersheds; and both currently support populations of resident coastal-cutthroat trout, Oncorhynchus clarki, and sculpin (Cottidae). In order to evaluate the effectiveness of their fish-passage restoration efforts and analyze the effects of restored passage on the watersheds’ established fish populations, the city has contracted Washington Trout to survey and characterize fish use in these two watersheds before (Phase I) and after (Phase II) fish passage is restored.
Washington Trout is performing spawning surveys during fall of 2005 to document the abundance, reach preference, and timing of chum and coho entry into the two watersheds. During summer 2006 Washington Trout will characterize the species composition, abundance, fitness and age structure of juvenile and resident salmonids in each watershed. These biological data will provide a valuable baseline against which future comparisons (Phase II) will be made.
This study will document changes in the fish populations that result from the fish passage restoration efforts at the mouths of these two watersheds, and will allow for inter-basin and inter-annual within-basin comparisons of fish population parameters. Washington Trout’s study results will complement benthic invertebrate and water-quality data being collected by the City of Olympia.
Creek enters the Snohomish River from the north near the town of
Snohomish. The watershed drains approximately
28 square miles, and consists of over 117 miles of stream and floodplain
channels. The downstream portions of
the watershed have been significantly altered to support several dairy farms
and other agricultural practices, and now consist of an extensive network of
ditches, dikes and levees, and a complex pump/tidegate facility where the creek
joins the Snohomish. The pump station
is screened to protect fish and has a Denil-type fish ladder (see photograph)
to provide upstream adult salmon passage during parts of the year. Despite
these efforts, the pump station still restricts adult migration and blocks juvenile salmonid access to French Creek (WRIA 07 Salmonid Habitat Limiting Factors Analysis, 2002).
French Slough Flood Control (FSFC) operates and manages the pump station and associated fish passage facility. In early 2005 FSFC contracted Washington Trout to design, build, install, and test a fish passage monitoring device at the pump station to determine the number, species, and timing of upstream fish migrants passing through their facility. This information will help determine when the fish-passage facility (which requires substantial amounts of electricity), must be operational.
Washington Trout designed and built a motion-activated digital video recorder to capture images of every fish that passes through the FSFC fish passage facility. The equipment records a short video of each fish that jumps over a weir in the fish passage facility. The images allow investigators to document the species of fish and determine whether it is wild or hatchery origin by the presence or absence of an adipose fin. At night, the cameras automatically switch to infrared lighting to minimize the risk of affecting fish behavior. Each fish image is automatically marked with the date and time of passage.
The video surveillance of fish passage at French Slough began on October 6, and within the first month, over one hundred coho salmon have been documented passing upstream through the FSFC facility. Washington Trout is committed to developing advanced technologies to collect data that will help guide appropriate management decisions. This project also demonstrates Washington Trout’s ambition to work with agricultural communities to identify alternative practices that benefits both fish and farmers.
Washington Trout’s extensive experience identifying, monitoring, and removing fish-passage barriers was built in large part with direct contributions from our membership. Your direct support has helped us acquire the expertise to develop and utilize effective new research technologies, and the credibility to work with the FSFC and other public agencies. Please consider making an individual donation to support WT research.
EDUCATION & OUTREACH
WT staff recently participated in the 2005 Coastal Cutthroat Trout Symposium at Fort Worden State Park, near Port Townsend. The broad-ranging symposium included presentations by resource managers, students and anglers on topics including feeding behavior, migration patterns and genetic variation of cutthroat populations in British Columbia, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and California (program: www.orafs.org/cutthroat.html).
WT President Bill McMillan, reported the findings of WT’s ongoing salmon spawning surveys in Seattle streams. McMillan gave a poster presentation entitled Unexpected Abundance: Coastal Cutthroat as the Inheritors of Seattle Urban Creeks in the Declining Presence of Other Wild Salmonids. This report incorporated five years of field data collection and analysis performed by McMillan with WT field biologists David Crabb and Frank Staller; funding for the surveys was provided by the Seattle Public Utilities. The study documents the spatial and temporal extent of trout and salmon spawning activity in two Seattle streams, Thornton and Pipers Creeks. Despite significant anthropogenic impacts, self-sustaining populations of coastal cutthroat trout were found in both creeks, watersheds whose urban conditions do not support as robust populations of other wild salmonids.
WT staff are currently developing a technical report based on McMillan’s presentation for inclusion in a peer-reviewed Symposium proceedings to be published by the American Fisheries Society. Until the report’s appearance in print, all are welcome to view the poster presentation in WT’s Duvall office.
We recently completed another exciting season of Washington Trout’s Environmental Discovery Program. Just as the leaves started falling and the rains kicked in, students and teachers headed out to Oxbow Farm to learn about native plants, wildlife, ecosystems, and of course, Salmon. After a soggy start, the sun returned and we had beautiful fall weather for the final two weeks of fieldtrips. This season we served ten 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classes from Seattle and the Snoqualmie Valley. Seven out of ten teachers were returning this year; the program continues to be a success and we are already almost full for our spring season.
In addition to the Environmental Discovery Program fieldtrips, we have been piloting our newest education venture, Window to Discovery. This program encourages students to make observations, develop hypotheses, and to design experiments (using time-lapse videography) to test their hypotheses. Most of the observations focused on wildlife and their habitats so we set up several cameras in an effort to see what animals were doing when we weren’t looking. Some of the experiments included observations of tree cavities, salmon carcasses, branches and trees that had been clawed and gnawed and unusual patterns in the stream-bank mud. The experiments are ongoing to help test the hypotheses developed by the students during their field visits. The findings of the video experiments will be shared with the students during upcoming classroom presentations by WT staff.
We would like to thank the Raven Foundation, the JiJi Foundation, King County and the Seattle Foundation for supporting our education programs. And also many thanks to our wonderful team of enthusiastic, volunteer instructors for providing students with a fun and educational fieldtrip experience.
EVENTS & VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES
Washington Trout is pleased to announce a rare Seattle appearance by James Prosek, world-renown author, artist and flyfisherman, at the Filson Flagship store in downtown Seattle. Mr. Prosek will be signing copies of his book Joe and Me and participating in a silent auction featuring one of his watercolor lithographs, to benefit Washington Trout. Shopping at the Filson Store will also benefit Washington Trout as Filson is generously donating 10% of all clothing and book sales on December 10th to WT. Be sure to stop on by for a chance to meet James Prosek and to show your support for Washington Trout!
When: Saturday, December 10th from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm
Where: The Filson Flagship store in SODO (click here for a map) 1555 4th Avenue South, Seattle, WA 98134
If you have any questions please contact WT Outreach Coordinator Kristen Durance, or call 425-788-1167.
The WT staff is excited to announce that Alaska artist and author Ray Troll will be the keynote speaker at the 15th Annual Wild Fish Soiree and Benefit Auction to be held on May 13th, 2006 at Chateau Ste. Michelle in Woodinville, WA. Ray’s quirky humor and whimsical art has captured the angling/environmental community for years. No one and nothing is safe from his delightful wit! Last year’s event was one of our most successful fundraisers to date and to build on that success we need you! Do you have a knack for finding local businesses to donate items? Do you like to talk to people on the phone? Know someone who would have a great time attending the 2006 Soiree? Love to stuff envelopes? Then we need your help to make the 2006 Wild Fish Soiree our most successful fundraiser ever. Opportunities include, but are certainly not limited to, brain storming ideas for donations, asking local businesses for their support, delivering advertising material and working with staff in the Duvall office to put together solicitation letters and invitations. Volunteer opportunities are available for individuals and groups. For more information please email WT Outreach Coordinator Kristen Durance, or call 425-788-1167.
Find the perfect gift with the knowledge that all proceeds support WT’s work to preserve, protect and restore Washington’s Wild Fish! The WT store is fully stocked with an exciting array of gifts including note cards and correspondence kits, beautiful leather bound journals and calligraphy sets, art prints by Joseph Tomelleri and Tanya Hill and two original works by Tim Harris and Don Barnett that are on display at the store. We also carry TOPO! map and GPS programs, yummy treats and fun gifts for your dog or cat and WT logo hats and fleece blankets. The store is packed with items for kids and kids-at-heart: including exciting and messy science kits, games to explore nature, puzzles, tools to explore the outdoors and a beautiful selection of animal hand puppets. Our book selection includes a variety of field guides, fish reference books and nature oriented fiction and children’s books.
New this week is a selection of T-shirts designed by artist Ray Troll. We have eight different designs available in a variety of sizes and each one has the Washington Trout logo on the sleeve. Come on by the store to check them out or give us a call now to place an order before they are gone!
You can view a few of our store items online at www.washingtontrout.org/store.shtml and remember that all TOPO! Mapping programs are 25% off through the holiday season. We are also extending our hours – From November 27th through December 17th the WT Store will be open on Sundays from 10:00am till 5:00pm and we will be open December 24th from 10am-3:30pm.
The Washington Trout store’s regular hours are Monday – Saturday from 10:00am till 5:00pm. If you need to place an order and can’t make it out to Duvall, contact the office at 425-788-1167 and we’ll be happy to take your order and ship it to you. We are located on SR 203 at 15629 Main St NE in Duvall, WA.