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March 2008

News and Updates from the Wild Fish Conservancy

IN THIS ISSUE

 


Wild Fish Runs
is a bi-monthly publication for the 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 Washington's wild-fish ecosystems. Since 1989, the Wild Fish Conservancy has sought to improve conditions for all the region's wild fish through science, education, and advocacy. The Wild Fish Conservancy is a nonprofit 510(c)(3) organization.

PO Box 402
15629 Main St NE
Duvall, WA 98019
425-788-1167 Phone
425-788-9634 Fax
www.wildfishconservancy.org

 


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 or click here.

Save The Date! 17th Annual Wild Fish Soiree and Benefit Auction

Join us on May 17, 2008 at the Chateau Ste Michelle, Washington’s oldest and most acclaimed winery, for a memorable evening of gourmet food, fine wine, and lively socializing.

The Wild Fish Soiree, Wild Fish Conservancy’s principal fundraising event, will begin with a silent auction and champagne reception at 5:00 p.m. followed by a gourmet dinner and live auction at 6:30 p.m. The Soiree is a great opportunity to meet and mingle with Wild Fish Conservancy staff, board of directors, and members while bidding on a variety of items including exotic fishing trips, fly fishing equipment and accessories, weekend getaways, gourmet dinners, books, fine art, and much more.

Last year’s event was a tremendous success, raising nearly $80,000 for Wild Fish Conservancy’s unique science, education, and advocacy initiatives. Of course, we hope to surpass that this year but we can’t do it alone. To continue working for wild fish, the Wild Fish Conservancy depends on the support of individuals like you who are committed to wild-fish conservation. Help us meet the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead by attending this year’s Wild Fish Soiree and Benefit Auction.

Proceeds from the Benefit Auction go directly to support the Wild Fish Conservancy’s work to preserve, protect, and restore the region’s wild fish and the habitats on which they depend.   The Wild Fish Conservancy is reaching out to communities, influencing policy leaders, and advocating bold, innovative, and effective approaches to conserving salmon, steelhead, trout, and other wild fish populations throughout the region.

The Wild Fish Soiree starts with a champagne reception with hors d’oeuvres followed by a gourmet dinner with wines that are paired with each course, and your attendance includes a one year Wild Fish Conservancy membership.

To read the wrap up from last year’s event, including the complete list of donors go to http://www.wildfishconservancy.org/library/wild-fish-runs/may-2007.

For more information about the 2008 Wild Fish Soiree & Benefit Auction please contact Trent Donohue at trent@wildfishconservancy.org or call (425) 788-1167.

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Hidden Wild Images at the Wild Fish Conservancy Store

A Wild Fish Conservancy staff biologist for three years and counting, Brent Eric Trim is also an avid nature photographer with over 12 years experience photographing some of the wildest places in Washington and the west.  Although he currently resides in Port Townsend on the scenic Olympic Peninsula, Brent’s photography has taken him from the Grand Coulee to the Grand Canyon, and from Yellowstone to Yosemite.  After those travels, he freely admits that many of his favorite images were made right here in his home state.

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"Blue Ribbon Waters" by Brent Eric Trim. Original 16" X 24" matted print available at the WFC store in Duvall, WA.

With an expected launch date in the spring of 2008, Brent’s forthcoming website (www.hiddenwildimages.com) will showcase the nature and wildlife photography that has won him several awards and publication in regional magazines.  Seventeen of these images are now available in the Wild Fish Conservancy store as a series of fine art prints depicting wild rivers, lakes, and shorelines throughout the Northwest, the very habitats that Wild Fish Conservancy works to preserve, protect, and conserve.

The store is also stocked with an exciting array of exquisite art prints from Joseph Tomelleri and Tanya Hill, underwater photographs from Katrina Kruse, and t-shirts and books from Ray Troll. We also have plenty of items for kids and the young-at-heart including: fun and messy science kits; games, puzzles, and tools to explore the outdoors; and a full assortment of beautiful Folkmanis animal hand puppets. Our book section includes a broad selection of field guides, reference books, nature oriented fiction and non-fiction, and children’s books.

The Wild Fish Conservancy store is open Monday – Friday from 10:00am till 5:00pm.  If you’d like to place an order but 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.

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Snoqualmie River Restoration Project

Micah Wait, Wild Fish Conservancy Conservation Biologist

This year, the Wild Fish Conservancy will begin collecting data for the design of a floodplain restoration project on the Snoqualmie River. The Stillwater Unit of the Snoqualmie Wildlife Area is a 456-acre natural area on the northern banks of the Snoqualmie River between Duvall and Carnation. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife manages the Wildlife Area, and a major objective for the unit is the protection, restoration, and enhancement of wetland and riparian habitats in the unit.

The Snoqualmie River has an environmental history in common with many of the other river basins that drain into Puget Sound. One of the earliest post-settlement alterations to the instream structure of Snoqualmie River was the removal of large woody debris from the main channel, termed “desnagging” by the Army Corps of Engineers. This first occurred in the 1880’s, and continued through the early 20th century. The floodplain forests of the Snoqualmie Valley were originally logged and cleared in the 1920’s, and as in many of the lowland floodplain valleys of the Puget Sound, large stretches of the Snoqualmie River were diked and armored in the 1950’s and 60’s in an attempt to control flooding and accommodate agricultural practices on the modified floodplain.

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Stillwater Wildlife Area work site map.

Today, the Stillwater Wildlife Unit still bears the marks of dynamic riverine processes: flood channels, oxbow wetlands, and river meander bends. These unique wetland and fluvial habitats are mostly intact within the unit, and, when considered in combination with other planned restoration projects in this reach of the Snoqualmie, offer an important opportunity for process restoration on a landscape scale using publicly owned lands.

The geologic processes of sediment entrainment, erosion, and deposition within a floodplain set the template for habitat formation. River meander migration, channel avulsions (meander cut-offs), alluvial fan deposition, and flood scouring are all important processes that create and maintain habitat features that are critical to Pacific salmonids. Understanding how these geomorphic processes are continually unfolding on the landscape allows for informed restoration planning that links large scale geologic process with site-specific outcomes. An initial step in restoration design is to model how these processes are affecting the restoration site, and how proposed restoration actions will alter these processes.

Working in partnership with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, King County, and the Stilly-Snohomish Fisheries Enhancement Task Force, the Wild Fish Conservancy will design a restoration project at the Stillwater Wildlife Area based upon the findings of a geomorphic assessment of the reach. This assessment will include a model of the rate of river meander migration and a model of the erosive capacity of the river. The river meander migration model will be built by Eric Larsen, an Assistant Research Scientist at the UC Davis Department of Environmental Design. Dr. Larsen uses an estimate of annual flood discharge and channel geometry in combination with a map of soil types and bank stability to create a model that predicts channel migration rates. The erosive capacity of the river will be modeled using a stream power analysis developed by researchers at the University of Montana Flathead Lake Biological Station. The stream power model combines remotely sensed imagery collected by a low elevation plane flight with river discharge measurements collected using an Acoustic Doppler Profiler to create a map-based model of stream power, which is the ability of the river to transport a sediment load.

These models will allow Wild Fish Conservancy scientists and our project partners to understand how the restoration actions proposed for the Stillwater Wildlife Area will affect the long term ecological trajectory of the site, and any potential impacts to downstream and adjacent landowners. Proposed restoration actions at the site include the removal of bank armament that is inhibiting river meander migration, the installation of engineered log jams to restore lost instream structural elements, and the planting of native riparian forests throughout the Wildlife Area. River meander migration creates a complex channel edge geometry that is suitable for rearing juvenile Chinook salmon, while bank armoring and rip rap create simplified edge habitats that support fewer fish. On the other hand, log jams and instream wood create complexity within the stream channel important for rearing juvenile salmon. And the riparian forests planted as a part of this project will act as a future source for the recruitment of large woody debris to the stream channel.

Our goal is to restore the natural processes that have historically acted to create the geologic template for salmon habitat. Modeling geologic processes in the Stillwater Reach of the Snoqualmie River will allow us to better understand how the river will respond to our various restoration actions.

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Cherry Creek Floodplain Restoration

Jamie Glasgow, Wild Fish Conservancy Director of Science & Research (Ecology)

cherrycreekIn lower Cherry Creek, a tributary of the Snoqualmie River, an aging agricultural drainage system that includes a pump house, tide gates, and over 10,000 meters of ditched channels, compromises salmon habitat and natural processes promoting salmon production. In 1998 WFC documented that the “macerating” pump facility, operated by a Drainage District that includes the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, was a direct cause of mortality to thousands of juvenile salmonids including ESA-listed Chinook. In 2004, the Drainage District with assistance from the Snohomish Conservation District, upgraded the pump facility with a more fish-friendly system facilitating passage to and from critical floodplain habitat. Still, water quality is poor on the Cherry Valley floodplain and the ditched and straightened mainstem channel and the simplified and disconnected floodplain channels lack habitat complexity and diversity.

In 2003, Wild Fish Conservancy conducted a feasibility study to assess whether and how effectively salmon rearing and spawning habitat could be improved and natural processes restored in Cherry Valley without impacting existing agricultural land use. WFC worked closely with King County Drainage District 7, the Snohomish Conservation District, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, NOAA Fisheries, and affected landowners to develop a restoration plan with a high likelihood of success.

Finally, after years of grant writing and collaborative planning, WFC will be implementing that plan, the Cherry Creek Floodplain Restoration Project, in 2009. This significant habitat restoration project will restore streamflow into the sinuous relict mainstem Cherry Creek to recover the in-stream and riparian habitat complexity and channel processes that were lost when the lower mainstem was ditched and straightened.  The project will also abandon three significant ditched floodplain tributaries and replace them with one naturalized, sinuous channel with a diverse range of instream habitats, a native riparian corridor, and instream large woody debris.  The project will be complemented by an adjacent seasonal wetland restoration project proposed by Ducks Unlimited.

The Cherry Creek Floodplain Restoration Project will include substantial community involvement, including the recruitment of volunteers to assist in implementation monitoring, long-term landowner maintenance of the new pump and floodgate facility, and public outreach measures to illustrate the cooperation of agricultural stakeholders in the restoration of Cherry Creek. The public will be invited to learn about the restoration effort and its ecological significance via media releases, interpretive signs and guided tours of the project site.

Funding for the project totaling $735,000 has been awarded by the Salmon Recovery Funding Board, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, King County, and the King Conservation District.

 

Icicle Creek Project Update: Diet Sample Collection

Audrey M. Thompson, Wild Fish Conservancy Biologist

The 2007 field season on the Icicle Creek Project was very busy and exciting, but data collection isn’t over for the WFC biologists. While field work is over, the winter months are packed with sample processing. This year Wild Fish Conservancy staff collected hundreds of diet samples from a range of fish species and sizes including young-of-the-year coho and Chinook, as well as larger rainbow trout, using a non-lethal technique called “gastric lavage."

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WFC Biologists Audrey Thompson and John Crandall (right) process stomach samples at streamside with help from Rufus Nicoll of the University of Idaho.

To collect a stomach sample, a small flexible tube (the smaller the fish, the smaller the tube) is used to pump a bit of water into a fish’s stomach while the fish is being held gently in a cool towel. The spurt of water induces the fish to regurgitate what it has most recently eaten into a tray, after which it is quickly released back into the stream. The prey items are collected, then rinsed and preserved in alcohol until winter, when Audrey gets to enjoy identifying and counting all the organisms.

It may seem unlikely that there would be much worth looking at in regurgitated stomach contents, but since fish swallow their prey whole, the invertebrates, fish and frogs that they consume are very well preserved in their stomachs. Often, invertebrates can be identified to the family level. In some cases, only a leg, wing, head, or abdomen of an invertebrate is found, in which case identification can be a very challenging, but rewarding puzzle. A lot of practice with identifying invertebrates will teach you to quickly recognize the intricately veined wing of an adult mayfly (Ephemeroptera), the bulbous and hairy abdomen of a blow fly (Diptera), or the hardened and leathery elytra of the beetle order (Coleoptera).

Once all the stomach contents for each fish are counted and identified, we can make some useful comparisons between seasons, sites, and time of day. For example, we find that smaller fish spend more time eating a lot of small prey like mayflies, and adult midges, while larger fish seem to hunt for larger, high calorie items like smaller fish, frogs, and tadpoles. Also, we find that rainbow trout in the mainstem consume a lot of drifting aquatic invertebrates, whereas fish in Jack Creek (a small boulder-filled tributary) for example, focus more on terrestrial invertebrates like spiders and leaf hoppers which fall from the overhanging vegetation.

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Audrey Thompson analyzing field samples.

These and other comparisons, help us understand how rainbow trout in the Icicle Creek feed, which is directly related to how they grow and develop fat stores for the winter. Both of which are very important aspects of rainbow trout ecology: a central focus of the Icicle Project.  This is exciting for us not only because we may begin comparing Icicle fish such as rainbow trout to those inhabiting other systems, but because we can watch how feeding habits and rainbow trout ecology change over time as the Icicle Project continues!

 

The Puget Sound Partnership is Up and Running

Mark Hersh, Wild Fish Conservancy Water Quality Specialist

In May 2007, Governor Gregoire signed legislation that established the Puget Sound Partnership as a new state agency, replacing the Puget Sound Action Team.  The legislation also sets a goal of restoring Puget Sound by 2020.  The legislation was sponsored by Senator Phil Rockefeller and incorporated many of the recommendations of the 2006 Puget Sound Partnership, an advisory board appointed by the Governor (see the September 2006 issue of Wild Fish Runs for details of the 2006 effort).

The new agency has not been given direct regulatory authority.  Its role is to coordinate the already considerable private and public efforts to protect and restore the Sound.  Governor Gregoire appointed David Dicks, an environmental attorney from Seattle, as the first Executive Director.  There is also a nine-member Leadership Council that is to help the agency in its efforts.  Also in supporting roles are a Science Panel, providing independent science advice, and a twenty-seven member Ecosystem Coordination Board, representing geographic areas, political bodies, businesses, and environmental groups.  All of these groups will help prepare the “Action Agenda,” a plan that outlines the measures that need to be taken to protect and restore the Sound.  The legislation is clear that the Action Agenda is not to be a new plan, but should be based upon previously prepared existing plans.  The law also outlines that the Action Agenda should be in place by September 2008.

Wild Fish Conservancy is a member of a coalition of public interest groups known as the Puget Sound Environmental Caucus.  The Caucus was asked to provide two members to sit on the Ecosystem Coordination Board, and the Caucus decided to submit two names along with two alternates.  Mark Hersh, WFC’s water quality specialist is one of the two alternates.  The Caucus will be developing positions on all aspects of Puget Sound restoration and protection, and will be advocating that those positions be included in the Action Agenda.

 

Rain, Wind, and a Flood of New Teachers

Casey Ralston, Wild Fish Conservancy Education Coordinator

If you were to look at the poems written by students who participated in the Environmental Discovery Program (EDP) last fall, you’d definitely notice a trend- WEATHER!  You might see a bright sunshine in a few of the pictures but most of the words and drawings tell another story. The kids are remembering a wet, muddy, cold, or blustery day at Oxbow Farm and lucky for us, they are usually describing a fun experience outdoors.

The fall of 2007 brought us into our 6th season of the EDP and it was definitely a mix of old and new. Stillwater Elementary was back again; they’ve been bringing their fourth graders since the beginning of the program but we also had five brand new teachers from Monroe.  In October and November, more than 200 students participated in our three-part education program (an introductory classroom visit, a fieldtrip, and a follow-up class visit), where they learned about native plants and animals, habitats, water quality and healthy ecosystems.

During the fall season we spent a lot of time discussing water.  When rain is pouring down in the northwest, it can be easy to forget that fresh water is a limited resource so we talk to students about runoff, point and non-point source pollution, and then they collect water samples directly from the Snoqualmie River during their field trip.  They look at their data to learn more about how changing water quality conditions might affect fish and other aquatic organisms that live in the river.   This year we finally combined all of our student-collected water data from the last four years in one place.  One of our new teachers requested multiple years of data and asked her students to calculate the mean, median, and mode for 3 years of dissolved oxygen, pH, and phosphorus data.  Not a bad way to sneak some fourth grade math into her curriculum!

As we wrap up another successful season, it is important to remember everyone who makes this program possible.  So, many thanks to our generous funders, to the classroom teachers who make the extra effort to get your kids outside, and to our wonderful field instructors who share your time, your knowledge, and your stories with our students.  We hope to see you again next year!

Attention Teachers -- Sign Up Now For May 2008 EDP Fieldtrips
Do you want to bring your class?  We are currently filling open slots for our spring season. If you would like to sign-up or get more information about this program, please contact Casey Ralston at 425-788-1167 or casey@wildfishconservancy.org

Field Instructors Needed for Spring Education Programs
Want to get outside this spring?  We are looking for people to help lead field trips in May 2008 at Oxbow Farm in Carnation. Come help students explore the natural environment and learn about the importance of healthy ecosystems.  Volunteer and paid instructor positions are available.  Please contact Casey Ralston at 425-788-1167 or casey@wildfishconservancy.org to learn more about this opportunity.

 

A New Education Program Teaches Students About the Wenatchee River Watershed

Casey Ralston, Wild Fish Conservancy Education Coordinator

We kicked off our fall education programs in Leavenworth with a return to the Wenatchee River Salmon Festival. Once again, Wild Fish Conservancy hosted a “Happy Salmon Homecoming” Poster Contest and we talked to hundreds of students from Leavenworth, Wenatchee, and surrounding areas.

A couple of weeks later, we were back in Leavenworth again, this time at Barn Beach Reserve to help deliver a new field-based environmental education program for all of the fourth graders from a local elementary school.  Wild Fish Conservancy was one of several partners responsible for planning, preparing, and delivering this program which was designed to complement and expand upon what students learned during the Salmon Festival.  For our portion of the five-day program we developed three different field lessons to teach students about watersheds, riparian environments, fish habitat, salmon behavior, and water quality. In addition to teaching some basic ecological concepts and answering questions from students and teachers, we shared information about the work we’ve been doing in Icicle Creek and talked to the students about how and why we do fisheries research.

A highlight of the program was the day when our biologists donned their wetsuits and showed the kids how we use underwater cameras to explore beneath the surface. Many of the students have spent time along the Wenatchee River and are familiar with the area but it’s a rare opportunity to see what things look like from an underwater perspective. Students were able to instantly view what the snorkeler’s camera was capturing through a beach mounted video screen. During another activity we helped the students use binoculars and spotting scopes to observe salmon spawning in the river. Overall the new education program was a big success. We are still in the early phases of our research in Icicle Creek. As we learn more about the fish in this system, we will continue to bring this information to students and to share our findings with the community.

For more information about any of our education programs, please contact Casey Ralston at casey@wildfishconservancy.org.

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Happy Artist at the Happy Salmon Home Coming Poster Contest

Tyler Cluverius, Wild Fish Conservancy Outreach & Development Coordinator

Wild Fish Conservancy staff and volunteers hosted the 2007 Happy Salmon Homecoming Poster Contest at the Wenatchee River Salmon Festival at the Leavenworth Fish Hatchery, September 20th – 23rd. The Wild Fish Conservancy booth, transformed into an outdoor art studio, buzzed with activity as children 12 and under painted posters depicting happy wild salmon and trout returning to their natal home of Icicle Creek. The contest was a tremendous success with nearly 500 entries, and a great time was had by all that participated.

This year’s winner was 6-year-old Britany Larson from Milton, WA. For her artistic efforts, she received a $25 gift certificate for art supplies at McDee’s Art Center in Wenatchee.

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Britany Larson of Milton, WA shows off her winning poster.

Also, Britany’s poster will be turned into a Wild Fish Conservancy Celebration Poster and used to promote our participation at next year’s festival.

As Wild Fish Conservancy and others look forward to new developments in the Icicle Creek Fish Passage and Restoration Project, perhaps the childrens’ posters of happy salmon and trout returning to pristine habitat after more than 60 years will serve as a good omen for the future of Icicle Creek’s precious wild fish.

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You Can Support Wild Fish Conservancy Everyday

oct07_pccPCC Natural Market Scrip Card: Wild Fish Conservancy is excited to announce that you can now support our work to preserve, protect and restore Washington’s wild fish ecosystems every time you shop at a PCC Natural Market.

Wild Fish Conservancy is now a participating partner in the PCC Scrip program.  This program allows you to purchase a $50.00 PCC Scrip card directly from the Wild Fish Conservancy and use it the same as cash at any PCC Natural Market.  The Wild Fish Conservancy will then receive 5% of the amount you spend as a donation.  Once you purchase the card from the Wild Fish Conservancy store you can recharge it as many times as you like at any PCC Market and the Wild Fish Conservancy will continue to receive 5% of every purchase.

For more information or to purchase your PCC Scrip card please contact the Wild Fish Conservancy office at 425-788-1167 or stop by the Wild Fish Conservancy store on Main Street in Duvall.

Workplace Giving: Federal and state employees may designate a portion of their paycheck to the Wild Fish Conservancy.  Workplace rules differ but here are a few ways you may designate dollars to the Wild Fish Conservancy:

Washington State Combined Fund Drive (CFD): If you are a Washington state employee, including City of Seattle employees, you can direct a donation to the Wild Fish Conservancy through the Washington State Combined Fund Drive.  Simply note our organization number (315054) on your payroll deduction form or head to the CFD website and set-up giving options for the 2007 fiscal year.  Your monthly donation provides much needed, sustainable and predictable funding for the Wild Fish Conservancy’s projects and programs.

King County Employee Giving Program: If you are an employee of King County you can direct a donation to the Wild Fish Conservancy through the  King County Employee Giving Program. King County employees can pledge an amount to be deducted from their paycheck and donated to as many as six nonprofit organizations of their choice. Deductions can be made: Bimonthly (deducted every paycheck); Monthly (deducted from the second paycheck each month); Annually (deducted once in January). Minimum donation per organization is $2.00. Maximum number of organization designations is six. To learn more about this program and to direct a donation to the Wild Fish Conservancy go to http://www.kingcounty.gov/employees/giving.aspx

Work-Place Giving: Many employers allow you to direct money to the non-profit of your choice thorough their own donation programs.  Companies like Microsoft, REI, Boeing 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 the Wild Fish Conservancy – if the option is not available then talk to your employer about starting one.  It is a wonderful opportunity to showcase your employer’s dedication to environmental issues!

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