NUMBER 37 - June 1998
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ESA REAUTHORIZATION BILL DEAD?
The "Endangered Species Recovery Act of 1997" (S. 1180), once thought to be a sure bet for passage in the Senate, is currently stalled. The bill was introduced by Senators Dirk Kempthorne (R-Idaho), John Chafee (R-R.I.), Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Bill language would change how federal agencies consult on activities that affect listed species, establish deadlines for recovery plans, set up a streamlined habitat conservation plan process for private landowners, and allow safe harbor agreements* (see Habitat Hotline Number 34). [*Note: Safe harbor agreements say that if a landowner enters into a voluntary agreement with the federal government to protect and conserve a listed species, in return those landowners and their plans will not be subject to additional liability under the ESA.]
Serious disagreements regarding the bill have arisen over proposed amendments. Senate Budget Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) forwarded an amendment which would provide $350 million for ESA landowner incentives programs—such as safe harbor agreements, habitat conservation plans, and recovery plan implementation agreements. (Source: Environment & Energy Weekly, Energy and Environment Study Institute, April 20, 1998.)
Original bill cosponsors Senators Harry Reid (D-Nevada) and Max Baucus (D-Mont.) have raised serious objections over the funding deal because the money would come from, at least in part, revenues generated from the sale of public lands by the Bureau of Land Management.
NOW WHAT: To give the House time to act on ESA reauthorization, the Senate has until the beginning of July to complete the bill. According to the Environment & Energy Weekly, negotiations are ongoing between the Clinton Administration, Senator Kempthorne, and other key players in an attempt to find an acceptable compromise on the funding issue. However, on June 2, a New York Times article called chances for a reauthorization "dim."
FOREST HEATH BILL DEFEATED
H.R. 2515, the "Forest Recovery and Protection Act," was defeated by a vote of 201-181 on March 27, 1998.
According to the bill, which was introduced by Representative Bob Smith (R-Ore.), increases in both the number and severity of wildfire, insect infestation, and disease outbreaks on federal forest lands are occurring as a result of high tree densities, species composition, and structure that are outside the historic range of variability. To address these problems, the bill states:
Restoration and protection of important forest resources require active forest management involving a range of management activities, including thinning, salvage, prescribed fire (after appropriate thinning), sanitation and other insect and disease control, riparian and other habitat improvement, soil stabilization and other water quality improvements, and seedling planting and protection.
The bill was opposed by environmental groups who said that it was a prescription for increased logging. Proponents of the legislation, which included the timber industry, called it an answer to declining health of federal forestlands.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT
In June, both the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) will begin debate on the Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) amendment requirements to their Fishery Management Plans (Plans or FMPs). The Plans are mandated by the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (also known as the Sustainable Fisheries Act).
BACKGROUND: The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (Act) was originally passed in 1976. The Act provided the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) with legislative authority for fisheries regulation in the United States, in the area between three miles to 200 miles offshore. It also established the eight regional fishery management councils (Councils) that manage the harvest of fish and shellfish resources in these waters.
The PFMC covers the area offshore of the states of California, Oregon, and Washington, while the NPFMC manages Alaska’s fishery resources. Councils prepare Fishery Management Plans (FMPs) to govern their management activities, which are then submitted to NMFS for approval.
In 1996, the Act was reauthorized and changed extensively. Among other changes, these amendments were intended to emphasize the importance of habitat protection to healthy fisheries and to strengthen the ability of the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Councils to protect the habitat needed by the fish they manage. This habitat is called "Essential Fish Habitat" and is broadly defined to include "those waters and substrate necessary to fish for spawning, breeding, feeding, or growth to maturity."
The deadline for the PFMC and NPFMC to submit their EFH amendments to the Secretary of Commerce is October 11, 1998.
Pacific Fishery Management Council
Draft EFH amendments for the West Coast Salmon, Coastal Pelagics, and Pacific Coast Groundfish Fishery Management Plans will be considered at the Seattle PFMC Meeting on June 23-26. The meeting will take place at the Doubletree Hotel, SeaTac Airport.
***As We Go To Press*** Reportedly, the EFH provisions of the Magnuson-Stevens Act are mired in controversy.
The EFH provisions of the Magnuson Stevens Act required that the FMPs be amended to describe and identify EFH, as well as measures to conserve and enhance EFH. Under an arrangement with the PFMC, NMFS agreed to take the lead in developing the EFH amendments for the three FMPs (salmon, groundfish, and coastal pelagics). In March, NMFS’ Northwest Region released its draft EFH recommendations to the Council that contained specific conservation measures (e.g., fencing of streams riparian areas, avoidance of wetland destruction).
However, there has been vociferous opposition to the draft salmon FMP language from the non-fishing industry and Congressional representatives. Industry claims that they were not sufficiently consulted (despite numerous Federal Register announcements) during the rule-making process and that the draft conservation and enhancement measures are overly restrictive.
NOW WHAT: On June 5, the National Marine Fisheries Service decided to change the conservation and enhancement measures of the salmon FMP amendment. Unfortunately, the more prescriptive measures of the March draft have been rewritten as generic conservation measures. NMFS will now present its rewritten recommendations to the PFMC at its June meeting. The PFMC, however, is not obligated to adopt NMFS’ recommendations.
North Pacific Fishery Management Council
According to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council:
At the April meeting, the Council reviewed the Environmental Assessment/Regulatory Impact Analysis for amending the FMPs (groundfish, salmon, crab, and scallops) to incorporate EFH provisions. The Council recommended several modifications to improve the document and those revisions will be included in the public review draft, which will be available by mid-May. To minimize the impacts of fishing gear on habitat areas of particular concern, a 4-mile by 4-mile pinnacle area off Sitka has been proposed as a no fishing area to protect habitat important for juvenile rockfish and ling cod. An option of allowing salmon fishing in the pinnacle area was added for analysis. Final action on the EFH amendments is scheduled for June.
Preliminary recommendations on EFH were made by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). At this time, NMFS has recommended adoption of Alternative 2, which designates EFH as described by the general distribution of a species or species complex. Copies of the preliminary NMFS recommendations and EFH assessment reports are available from the Council office.
A discussion paper will be prepared for the June meeting to assist the public with identifying habitat areas of particular concern and provide some guidance on possible management measures that could be taken to prevent, mitigate, or minimize any adverse effects from fishing, to the extent practicable, on EFH. It is hoped that such a document will assist the public in putting forward plan amendment proposals this summer.
(Source: April 1998 Newsletter, North Pacific Fishery Management Council)
NOW WHAT: The NPFMC meeting will take place June 8-15 in Dutch Harbor, Alaska.
For Further Information Contact: Pacific Fishery Management Council at (503) 326-6352; North Pacific Fishery Management Council at (907) 271-2809.
COLUMBIA RIVER DREDGE SUIT
On March 23, 1998, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA) and the Columbia River Crab Fishermen’s Association (CRCFA) both filed suit in U.S. District Court in Seattle. The suit is an attempt to stop the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from disposing dredge spoils in a Dungeness crab fishery and nursery bed area near the mouth of the Columbia River. The groups are being represented by Earthjustice Legal Defense Fund’s (formerly known as the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund) Seattle office.
According to the groups:
Under the Corps’ present plan, millions of cubic yards of sand dredged from the lower Columbia River will eventually be dumped at the mouth of the Columbia estuary where the sand will smother the region’s most productive crab fishery and nursery grounds. Dungeness crab is a delicacy and is also a valuable harvest—crab fishing in the Columbia contributes an estimated $50 million to the local economy and keeps commercial fishermen working in spite of major salmon closures. Now crabbers see their livelihoods further eroded by an unnecessary dumping program.
BACKGROUND: The Corps is responsible for keeping the Columbia River navigation channel, with its $12 billion in commerce, functioning. Four to five million cubic yards of sediment per year are disposed of in two sites ("B" and "E") near the mouth of the Columbia River (see map on page 5). Fishermen, specifically crabbers, have raised concerns about the dredge disposal because of its impact on Dungeness crab.
In 1997, the ocean disposal sites were expanded. One reason for site expansion was that past disposal practices resulted in the development of underwater mounds. According to the Corps, the mounds threatened to create a hazardous condition for large and small water craft, due to waves refracting from and breaking over the mounds. Therefore, the Corps decided that it would go to a thin layer placement of dredge spoils over a larger area instead of dumping larger amounts in a single area.
According to the Corps and the EPA*, the expansion of Sites "B" and "E" minimizes potential impacts to benthic in-fauna (including shellfish).(*Source: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Portland District, Environmental Protection Agency Region 10. Utilization of Existing MCR ODMDSs and Proposed Expansion of Sites "B" and "E." June 1997.)
However, there is evidence that the thin layer disposal will impact Dungeness crabs during the molting stage of their lifecycle. It is during molting (softshell) that they are most vulnerable to burying-related mortality from dredge material: Molting crabs do not crawl out from under the new sediments and thus perish; non-molting (hardshell) crabs are more apt to crawl out.
The CRCFA has been fighting the expansion of the dredge sites, siting, and threats to crab and other fisheries resources. State agencies including the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife have also expressed concerns about the site expansions.
The plaintiffs want the Corps to dump the dredge spoils further offshore. According to Dale Beasley, commissioner of the Columbia River Crab Fishermen’s Associations:
All we are asking is that the Corps take the sand about six miles farther out, and dump it off the continental shelf instead of killing our crab fishery. Instead they are just barging ahead because they don’t want to consider the consequences to our industry.
Dredge activity does have enormous negative impact on crab habitat. CRCFA’s goal here is to advance measures that avoid these adverse impacts (including better monitoring) to protect the most valuable commercial species in Washington and Oregon—Dungeness crab. This can be accomplished by permanent deactivation of dumping in Site "B." The Corps simply needs to develop new sites which are less environmentally intrusive.
Our vision includes a new sport fishing reef located within ten miles of shore. Direct sand placement on Benson Beach could also help solve serious coastal erosion problems there. Our own plan would benefit all those in the region, in a cost effective manner, and preserve habitat, natural resources, navigational safety, continued large ship traffic, local economies and would prevent coastal erosion, benefit both sports and commercial fishing, save a national treasure (Fort Canby State Park), and even allow the U.S. Coast Guard Motor Life Boat School to remain active. If the Corps continues down its current pathway, however, they would jeopardize all of this.
NOW WHAT: Responding to the lawsuit, on June 4, the Corps put out an information paper on the ocean disposal site issue:
The newly expanded site will be used temporarily until a long-term site evaluation study is completed in 1999. New sites will be identified and designated in that study. In the ocean disposal site evaluation study, the Corps and EPA are looking for sites that have the least impacts, overall, to all users and resources. Issues such as possible impacts to crabs are only one of the elements considered during the decision-making process. For example, the Corps also must consider safety for all navigation interests and maintain reasonable costs for channel maintenance activities
The Corps must consider the economic feasibility and physical capability of hopper dredges transiting to and from a disposal site while successfully maintaining the navigation channel. There are only two hopper dredges working on the West Coast that are capable of working the mouth of the Columbia River; there is limited time available for them to work at this location and other West Coast projects. Increasing the haul distance would significantly increase cost and could prevent the dredges from completing needed maintenance dredging.
Once candidate sites are identified, information regarding those sites will be included in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Columbia River Channel Improvement [channel deepening] feasibility report (estimated to be released in the fall of 1998). The Draft EIS will be released for 45-day public and agency review. Once comments from that review period are evaluated and incorporated into the final EIS, another 30-day public review period would follow. When the EIS is finalized, EPA will go through a formal rulemaking process that could take at least a year, possibly longer, before designating sites under Section 102 of the Ocean Dumping Act.
Click here for a map of Columbia River Ocean Dredged Material Disposal Sites (64K). (Source: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Portland District, Environmental Protection Agency Region 10. Utilization of Existing MCR ODMDSs and Proposed Expansion of Sites "B" and "E." June 1997.)
***As We Go To Press*** The plaintiffs are currently in negotiations with the government over this year’s dumping plan. If the Corps’ disposal plan does not meet with approval from the plaintiffs, then the CRCFA will go to court and file emergency papers not to dump in sites "B" and "E" this summer.
For Further Information Contact: Dale Beasley, Columbia River Crab Fishermen’s Associations at (360) 642-3942; Eric Braun, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at (503) 808-4348.
EL NIÑO FADES
A graph of the six strongest most recent El Niños can be found below. On May 11, 1998, the Climate Prediction Center and the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) reported the following regarding the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event:
The latest NCEP forecasts indicate a return to near normal conditions in the tropical Pacific during the next 3-6 months. Thereafter, the NCEP coupled model indicates that near normal conditions will persist through the end of 1998. The NCEP CCA [Canonical Correlation Analysis, i.e., the statistical model] forecasts a more rapid cooling during the summer season than does the NCEP coupled model, with cooler than normal conditions developing during the last half of the year. Other statistical and coupled model forecasts indicate an evolution similar to that of the NCEP CCA. The rate at which the warm episode decays will depend on a return to near-normal or stronger-than-normal low-level easterlies over the equatorial Pacific. Through April the easterlies continued to be much weaker than normal across the east-central and eastern tropical Pacific.
Based on current conditions in the tropical Pacific, on the NCEP SST [sea surface temperatures] predictions, and on results from historical studies on the effects of ENSO, we expect drier-than-normal conditions to continue over Indonesia, Micronesia and northern South America during the next couple of months. Wetter-than-normal conditions should continue over the central and eastern equatorial Pacific and over southeastern South America. A return to wetter than normal conditions is also possible over central Chile as the jet stream over the eastern South Pacific continues to be stronger than normal.
For comparison, the six biggest historic El Niño events since 1950 are shown here. The first three events (1957/58, 65/66, and 72/73) all featured an early warming in the far eastern Pacific and reached their standardized peaks before the end of the first year. The more recent El Niño events (1982/83, 86/87, and 91/92) took longer to mature, typically reaching their peaks in the spring of the second year. Early 1983 was the peak of the biggest El Nino of the century so far, whereas 1997/98 may have already crested this July/August , just below the 1983 peak. Text and figures prepared by Klaus Wolter [firstname.lastname@example.org] (303) 492-4615. Source: Wolter and Timlin (1993, 1997). (Source: http://www.cdc.noaa.gov/ENSO/enso.mei_index.html)
ENDANGERED RIVERS LIST RELEASED
Includes Hanford Reach, Lower Snake, Rogue/Illinois, Taku, Walla Walla
On March 30, 1998, the conservation group American Rivers, based in Washington D.C., released its thirteenth annual list of "America’s Most Endangered Rivers of 1998."
Below are the listed West Coast rivers, followed by a summary of threats to that river, according to American Rivers. Updates appearing after each river is additional information provided by the Habitat Hotline:
Hanford Reach of the Columbia (Washington State):
According to American Rivers:
The Hanford Reach is one of the last wild, undeveloped river stretches left in the "lower 48." Proposed development of the lands adjacent to the Reach would pollute the clear, clean waters of the Reach and choke the last remaining healthy salmon runs of the Columbia and Snake Rivers. Nuclear waste from leaking underground tanks at the nearby 40-year old weapons factory is contaminating the area’s groundwater and approaching the nearby Columbia River.
Hanford Reach Update: Legislation has been introduced in the current Congress that addresses the Hanford Reach. S. 200, introduced by Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.) in January of 1997, would place a 51-mile stretch of the Hanford Reach under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as a "Recreational River" under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. H.R. 1477 is the companion bill to S. 200 in the House, and was introduced by Representative Norm Dicks (D-Wash.).
H.R. 1811, introduced by Representative Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) in June of 1997, directs the State of Washington to enter into a joint agreement with Benton, Franklin, and Grant Counties to establish a Hanford Reach Protection and Management Commission. Representative Hastings’ district includes the Hanford Reach.
Conservation groups are supporting the Murray Bill because of the protection it provides to this important fish habitat area, the last free flowing stretch of the Mainstem Columbia River. These bills have not had any action to date. Reportedly, a "dear colleague" letter from both Representative Dicks and Senator Murray will be circulated in the coming weeks, and will request additional co-sponsors for S. 200 and H.R. 1477.
Lower Snake River:
According to American Rivers:
Dams on the Lower Snake have had devastating effects on the river, destroying wild salmon and steelhead runs in Oregon, Washington and Idaho. All remaining salmon and steelhead in the Snake River are now listed under the Endangered Species Act. The dams and reservoirs flood fish habitat and kill a high percentage of young fish (cumulatively up to 90%) passing each of the eight dams. Instead of fixing the dams and restoring more natural river conditions as scientists recommend, the Army Corps of Engineers transports young fish in barges or trucks around the dams. Three scientific reports have confirmed that barging does not work. The federal government has promised a better salmon plan in 1999, but dam operators recently proposed more delay.
Biological Opinion* Update: The National Marine Fisheries Service issued its final Supplemental Biological Opinion on the operation of the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) on May 14, 1998.
Said NMFS upon releasing its opinion:
The opinion takes steps to provide improved conditions for steelhead migrating through the system by building on an existing biological opinion for sockeye and chinook salmon, written in 1995. The opinion calls for spreading the risk to fish by barging some of them past the federal hydroelectric dams and letting others migrate through electricity-generating turbines and over spillways at dams.
In following its own spread-the-risk policy, the fisheries service said it will continue to transport juvenile steelhead at Lower Granite, Little Goose, and Lower Monumental Dams.
The fisheries service said the 1995 biological opinion will continue to govern river operations, except where the new opinion makes changes or establishes new measures. The fisheries service is scheduled to make a decision next year on longer-term remedies to salmon and steelhead survival in the lower Snake and Columbia Rivers. The supplemental opinion reaffirms that schedule.
[*Note: A biological opinion states whether a federal action is likely to jeopardize the continued existence of a species listed under the Endangered Species Act or if the action will result in the destruction or adverse modification of critical habitat. In effect, it governs river operation decisions by federal agencies. For the FCRPS, the National Marine Fisheries Service is the agency rendering the Biological Opinion.]
1999 Decision Update: By late 1999, the Clinton Administration has said that it will choose a long term plan to restore Columbia Basin salmon and steelhead. NMFS’ decision will include how many salmon and steelhead are to be left in-river versus transported by truck or barge. Other variables to be considered could include dam removal, reservoir drawdown, dam modifications including adult passage improvements, and juvenile bypass improvements.
According to the conservation group Save Our Wild Salmon:
The heart of that choice [on the long term plan] concerns federal dams; should we retire or modify some dams on the Snake and Columbia, or keep relying on technological measures such as barging fish [through the system]. Despite fish barging’s 20-year failure to restore salmon, and the scientific consensus that restoring more natural river conditions is the best path to recovery, supporters of fish barging continue to claim that "it is working," or "it will work." Neither claim holds true.
On the other side of the issue, industries that depend on the Columbia River’s electricity and transportation system say that the spill program is doing more harm than good, that harvest rates on Idaho chinook are too high, and that the benefits of barging fish are underestimated.
Three Sovereigns Update: On March 30, 1998, "senior-level" representatives from tribal, state (Oregon, Idaho, Washington, Montana, Alaska) and federal governments released a draft agreement "designed to improve the management of fish and wildlife resources in the Columbia River Basin without changes to existing laws." According to a press release:
The two versions of the draft agreement, called the "Three Sovereigns Fish and Wildlife Governance Process", are the product of nearly a year of collaboration among representatives of the federal government and Northwest states and Indian tribes. The process is an effort to create a new forum where the federal government, Northwest states and tribes—the "three sovereigns"—could better coordinate, discuss and resolve fish and wildlife issues using existing laws.
NOW WHAT: On May 30, 1998, Joan Laatz-Jewett of The Oregonian reported that both Montana and Idaho are now expressing reservations about the Three Sovereigns forum. Idaho has expressed reluctance to the Three Sovereigns approach in the past because of concerns that that it would lose authority over its water rights.
Also, according to the article, Montana Governor Marc Racicot has uncertainties about the Three Sovereigns concept, and that:
…he would prefer to expand the role of salmon recovery’s current overseer—the Northwest Power Planning Council—by introducing tribal and federal representatives.
The Power Planning Council is currently comprised of two members each from the states of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana. Despite the apparent setbacks, other forum members are still pushing to work out an agreement by late August.
Copies of an executive summary describing the current status agreement and the two current versions are available on the Internet at www.cbfwf.org/files.htm. To receive the documents by mail, contact Tana Klum of the Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority at (503) 326-7031.
Rogue/Illinois River System (Including Elk Creek and Rough and Ready Creek, Oregon):
According to American Rivers:
Two dams on the Rogue River [Savage Rapids] and its tributary, Elk Creek [Elk Creek Dam] threaten the salmon and steelhead runs of this premier fly fishing river. Five runs of fish must pass through the Rogue River’s dam [Savage Rapids] as they travel between the Pacific and their spawning grounds. More fish are killed by this dam than any other on the river. According to the Bureau of Reclamation, removing the dam would increase salmon and steelhead by over 100,000 fish each year. Rep. Bob Smith has successfully blocked plans to remove a piece of the dam to allow the river to flow around the structure. In addition, a proposed mine on the largest tract of public lands ever to be purchased for private mining is endangering the Rough and Ready Creek [which includes coho and steelhead runs], a tributary of the Illinois River. The Illinois flows into the Rogue.
Elk Creek Update: In January, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) ruled the partially built Elk Creek Dam could be modified to allow for passage of salmonids. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began work on the dam in 1986 and has spent over $100 million on the unfinished project.
Construction was halted in 1988 because of a legal action filed by the Oregon Natural Resources Council to protect salmon. The salmonid passage plan calls for a notch to be blasted in the dam at a cost of about $7 million. Currently fish are trapped and hauled around the dam. The blasting was scheduled to take place as early as the fall of 1998.
Opponents of the dam, including Jackson County Commissioners, have fought the announced Corps action. However, in March, the Corps announced that the blasting plans were postponed because of lack of funding.
On March 12, 1998, The Oregonian reported that Representative Bob Smith (R-Ore.) had threatened in February to block funding for the project, but that the Corps refused to link him to the funding decision. In the article, Representative Smith was quoted as saying, "I promised southern Oregonians that I’d do everything in my power to preserve Elk Creek Dam for future generations. It wasn’t easy."
Savage Rapids Dam Update: See page 11.
Rough and Ready Creek Update: According to the conservation group Siskiyou Regional Education Project:
There are few places on this earth where ancient ecological processes remain so intact with so much integrity. The watershed of Rough and Ready Creek in the Siskiyou National Forest in southwest Oregon is one of those rare places where the past has been so little severed from the present. This is a wild river of singular beauty flowing through Wilderness, Roadless and Botanical Areas and an Area of Critical Environmental Concern. But all this is threatened by the Nicore Project—a proposal for a nickel-laterite strip mine and a scheme to produce stainless steel through exploiting public resources. The Nicore Mine is additionally coupled with one of the largest attempts by a mining company to privatize public lands in this nation. If the Freeman mineral patents are granted, through provisions of the 1872 mining law, the owners of Nicore would gain title to 4,380 acres of priceless botanically rich public lands and their beautiful river.
NOW WHAT: The comment period for the Nicore mining project in the wild Rough and Ready Creek watershed ended May 15th. Over 3,000 comments were received on the proposed Nicore project. A supplemental draft EIS is expected to be out in October of 1998.
For Further Information contact: The Illinois Valley Ranger District at (541) 592-2116, or visit their web site at http://www.fs.fed.us/r6/siskiyou/; Siskiyou Regional Education Project at (541) 592-4459, or visit their web site at http://www.siskiyou.org.
Taku River (British Columbia, Alaska):
According to American Rivers:
The proposed reopening of a 40-year old copper/gold mine [Tulsequah Chief mine] would destroy one of the last undisturbed watersheds in North America. The Taku watershed is the largest unprotected river system on the west coast of North America. The river supports one of the largest populations of salmon in southeast Alaska [about one million pink, 400,000 coho, 300,000 sockeye, 50,000 chum, and over 100,000 chinook salmon]. Salmon stocks in the Taku inlet bring in $2.7 million annually. The lower 25 miles of the river flow through Alaska’s Tongass National Forest and have been found eligible for inclusion in the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.
Taku River Update: On April 7, 1998, the Juneau Empire reported that the U.S. Department of State has decided to take its own look a the proposed Tulsequah Chief mine before deciding whether to ask the International Joint Commission (a group of Canadian and American officials that oversees boundary issues involving the two nations) to review it.
Also, on April 9, 1998, Alaska Commissioner of Fish and Game (ADFG) Frank Rue urged the Province of British Columbia (B.C.) to intercede on behalf of U.S. and Canadian fishermen, and join Alaska in ensuring protection of salmon habitat on the Taku River from a proposed mine.
In the letter to B.C. Minister of Fisheries Dennis Streifel, Rue said that despite a three-year review of the Tulsequah Chief mine project, critical fishery and water quality issues identified by ADFG staff were not adequately addressed. He continued:
The State of Alaska still has concerns including the effluent mixing zones and water quality, tailings pond safety and seepage, and acid discharge at the Tulsequah Chief site, as well as the long-term impacts arising from the construction of the proposed road in this near-pristine watershed.
NOW WHAT: British Columbia recently responded to concerns about the project, as posed by the State of Alaska and federal resource agencies. Currently, the states and the federal government are reviewing this lengthy document.
Walla Walla River (Oregon, Washington):
According to American Rivers:
Irrigated farmland has devastated the river’s fish habitat. The river’s salmon are now gone and its bull trout and steelhead are near extinction. Farms divert literally all the river’s flow from its channel and leave the riverbed dry. Farmfield runoff washes back into the bed carrying pesticides, fertilizers, and sediment. In the west, wasteful irrigation practices damage critical aquatic habitat, wetlands and floodplains, and clean drinking water.
For Further Information on American Rivers’ "Most Endangered Rivers of 1998," call them at (202) 547-6900 or visit their website at http://www.amrivers.org/98table.html.
SAVAGE RAPIDS DAM
The Rogue River’s Savage Rapids Dam has come under severe criticism for killing both upstream and downstream migrating salmon and steelhead. Coho salmon in southern Oregon and northern California, including the Rogue River, are listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act. It has been estimated that dam removal would increase salmon and steelhead production annually by 20,000 to 90,000 adult fish.
The federal government (e.g., National Marine Fisheries Service), Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber, and numerous fish and environmental groups (e.g., WaterWatch and Trout Unlimited) want the dam removed.
In lieu of the dam, water would be provided to the Grants Pass Irrigation District (GPID) through the installation of pumps at the current dam site. However, some local interests, especially those living around the lake behind the dam, want to keep it in place. In the summer time, the dam is also a popular recreation area.
Two events recently occurred which, once again, have put the dam’s future in jeopardy.
On March 31, 1998, the Oregon Water Resources Commission (Commission or OWRC), citing lack of progress by the Grants Pass Irrigation District (District or GPID) toward removing Savage Rapids Dam, issued a "notice of proposed action," calling for cancellation of a water right permit held by the GPID.
The OWRC decided to issue the notice while meeting to review an annual progress report and a request for permit modification submitted by the GPID. After reviewing the report, the Commission made a preliminary determination that the district had not exercised "due diligence" toward meeting the terms of its water right permit, which requires removal of Savage Rapids Dam—the district’s diversion structure on the Rogue River. After making the preliminary findings, the Commission referred the matter to an adminisrative hearing.
Nancy Leonard, Chair of the Commission, said about the decision:
The hearing will provide the district and other parties the opportunity to present additional information to a hearings officer, who will return a recommendation to the Commission for a final decision in November.
The date of the administrative hearing—called a contested case hearing—will be set by a hearings officer who will also determine who may participate in the hearing. In addition to the District and Water Resources Department staff, WaterWatch of Oregon was granted "party" status by the Commission.
The Oregon Water Resources Commission could cancel the GPID’s water right in November 1998. If this happened, the GPID would lose one-third of its diverted water, threatening the operation of the diversion system. (Source: News Release, Oregon Department of Water Resources, March 31, 1998.)
On April 22, 1998, the National Marine Fisheries Service asked a federal court in Medford, Oregon, to stop the Grants Pass Irrigation District from diverting water at Savage Rapids Dam until the GPID complies with the Endangered Species Act. The water diversion system, the fisheries service says, kills thousands of juvenile coho and chinook salmon, cutthroat trout and steelhead every spring as they migrate to the ocean by trapping them against water intake screens or pumping them past the screens into turbines and irrigation canals.
According to William Stelle, Jr., regional administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Northwest Region:
This dam is the worst fish killer on the Rogue, plain and simple. While Oregonians work hard to save these imperiled runs, this dam completely undercuts those efforts. Everyone knows it, and knows that it’s time to fix it. We are asking the federal court to tell the district to comply with the Endangered Species Act and come up with improved interim operations and a long-term plan. With today’s action we are working to reinforce the repeated decisions of the Oregon Water Resources Commission that this problem must be fixed, and that the district must make a reliable commitment to do so.
(Source: Press Release, Northwest Region, National Marine Fisheries Service, April 22, 1998)
Now What: On May 28, the GPID ratified an irrigation agreement, for this year only, with the National Marine Fisheries Service. Under the agreement, irrigation would begin June 8, 1998, and irrigation activities at key diversion points will be closely monitored for impacts to fish. Juvenile coho will be migrating downstream past the dam through July (though most of the fish will have moved through by mid-June, in this high flow year, according to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife).
For Further Information Contact: Rob Jones, National Marine Fisheries Service at (503) 230-5429; Weston Becker, Oregon Water Resources Commission at (503) 378-8455, Ext. 316; Bob Hunter, WaterWatch at (541) 772-6116.
JUDGE RULES AGAINST OREGON SALMON PLAN
In April 1997, the federal government postponed listing Oregon Coast coho salmon under the Endangered Species Act. Instead, it struck an agreement with the State of Oregon to implement its "Coastal Salmon Restoration Initiative" (OCSRI or the Oregon Plan). A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between Oregon and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) established the terms and conditions for the collaborative process during implementation of the OCSRI.
The Oregon Plan was dealt a serious blow when, on June 1, 1998, a federal judge ruled that the National Marine Fisheries Service was "arbitrary and capricious" when it decided against protecting the fish in April of 1997.
Some quotes from U.S. Magistrate Janice M. Stewart’s ruling can be found below:
NMFS was unwilling to make the hard choices required by the ESA. (opinion at 25)
Neverless, for the same reason that the Secretary may not rely on the future actions, he should not be able to rely on unenforceable efforts. Absent some method of enforcing compliance, protection of a species could never be assured. Voluntary actions, like those planned in the future, are necessarily speculative...Therefore, voluntary or future conservation efforts by a state should be given no weight in the listing decision. Instead, the NMFS must base its decision on current, enforceable measures. (Op. at 31)
If the political winds changed, and Governor Kitzhaber is replace by a governor who does not support the OCSRI or MOA, nothing would prevent Oregon from terminating the MOA and not adopting improved habitat measures. (Op. at 39)
The wait-and-see stance of the NMFS has no support in the ESA or case law. Instead of placing the risk on the future and voluntary conservation measures proposed by the OCSRI, the NMFS unlawfully placed the risk of failure squarely on the species. (Op. at 44).
William Stelle, Jr., regional administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service’s Northwest Region in Seattle, said:
We are frankly, somewhat surprised by yesterday’s ruling because we believe we made the right decision. The Oregon Plan is a strong, broad based, solid initiative that is the best thing for salmon recovery and for healthy streams. We remain strongly committed to the plan, and that commitment remains unchanged irrespective of the listing status of coastal coho salmon.
Liz Hamilton, executive director of the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association said:
I hope that the decision will improve the Oregon Plan by making NMFS more than just an observer but full partner in the recovery process. We are still confident that the Oregon Plan will remain the backbone of NMFS’s recovery plan. We are very glad to see that the timber industry is staying at the table in the MOA forestry committee process.*
[*Note: A Memorandum of Agreement between Oregon and the National Marine Fisheries Service established the terms and conditions for the collaborative process during implementation of the OCSRI. Last year, the Oregon Board of Forestry set up the ad hoc Forest Practices MOA Advisory Committee (MOA Committee) to evaluate forest practice concerns outlined in the Memorandum of Agreement and to make specific recommendations to the Board of Forestry by the Fall of 1998.]
Glen Spain of the Pacific Coast Federation of the Fisherman’s Associations, commented:
As Oregonians who care about the salmon, we strongly support Oregon’s coho recovery plan. Today’s ruling does not affect that Plan except to show how urgent it really is to properly fund it and continue that effort. The Endangered Species Act is an important safety net for coho salmon. The Oregon Plan was always intended to work with or without a listing. In fact, a listing just underscores the importance of keeping the Oregon Plan going and making its goal of recovery a reality. The only true road out of the severe economic impacts of these declines on coastal economies is recovery.
This ruling makes it quite clear that mere promises will not take the place of better regulations governing forestry. Mere promises will not suffice—there have to be better regulations.
Paul Englemeyer, an Oregon representative for the National Audubon Society, said:
The Oregon Salmon Plan actually was intended to work with Endangered Species Act listing and protection. Southern Oregon coho are already listed as threatened and yet Oregon Plan actions are proceeding rapidly in that area of the state. Additionally, Endangered Species Act protections with both state and local efforts to save the fish. This listing will help that effort, not hinder it.
According to a June 3, 1998 editorial in The Oregonian:
The surest way to turn cooperative, well-intentioned Oregon landowners into opponents of the Endangered Species Act is to dangle the "land taking" provisions of the act as a threat to their holdings and livelihoods.
That is exactly the prospect raised this week in an ill-considered ruling on a salmon-policy lawsuit that never should have been filed.
The only way these coastal coho salmon are to be spared from extinction is to support—vigorously—Gov. John Kitzhaber’s recovery plan.
Conservation measures, especially habitat restoration, cannot possibly succeed without the cooperation of private landowners. Oregon’s plan also depends heavily on an infusion of timber industry money. This, in turn, is contingent on not listing the fish for federal protection.
NOW WHAT: The ruling means that the National Marine Fisheries Service must reconsider its decision on whether to list the Oregon coastal coho salmon by July 2, 1998.
On June 4, 1998, Governor Kitzhaber announced he would appeal the decision:
I’m announcing today that the State of Oregon will appeal the recent U.S. Federal District Court decision on the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by Magistrate Stewart, and will furthermore request a stay of the Magistrate’s order.
I want to make it clear that these actions by the State of Oregon do not reflect a disagreement with the objectives of the ESA. Rather, these actions reflect a deep concern about the implications of Magistrate Stewart’s extremely narrow interpretation of the Act on our ability to actually achieve its objectives—restoration of those species whose habitat includes substantial areas in private ownership.
Magistrate Stewart’s interpretation, if allowed to stand, implies that the requirement under the ESA for federal agencies to consider state conservation plans means almost nothing; that state-led conservation efforts have no place under ESA; that conservation efforts by individuals count only if they are mandated by government; and that state and local regulatory actions count only if there are legal assurances that they will remain in place into the future (which is extremely difficult for states like Oregon that are constitutionally prohibited from taking actions to bind future legislatures).
In short, under this narrow interpretation, the objectives of ESA can only be met through federal regulation and federal enforcement which creates an enormous contradiction—especially on private land. This is a critical point which deserves some elaboration.
FLOW WORKSHOPS SCHEDULED
WaterWatch of Oregon, in cooperation with Oregon Trout, is sponsoring a series of workshops throughout Oregon on streamflow protection and water rights law. The workshops will teach people how to use existing state laws and administrative procedures to protect and restore instream flows. Streamflow restoration is an important component of state plans to improve instream habitat for coho salmon and steelhead. Low streamflows contribute to high water temperatures and other problems for salmonids during migration and reproduction.
Each workshop will include an indoor session and an outdoor field trip. The indoor session will focus on water law and citizen participation, using specific examples from WaterWatch’s 13 years of activism for streamflow protection. Local Water Resources Department field staff will be on hand for the field trip to demonstrate how to measure streamflows and discuss water use issues specific to the basin. The workshops are free and open to the public. Participants should bring a sack lunch.
Some of the topics discussed will be:
Workshop dates and locations are as follows:
For Further Information, contact Betty Brickson, WaterWatch at (503) 295-4039, Fax: (503) 295-2791, or e-mail: email@example.com
CALFED EIS COMMENTS DUE 7/1
On March 16, 1998, CALFED Bay-Delta Program released its "Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report" (EIS/EIR). The comment period on this much awaited document was recently extended to July 1, 1998. Environmentally adapted management of the Bay-Delta region is critical to salmon and the California recreational and commercial salmon industries.
BACKGROUND: The CALFED Bay-Delta Program was initiated in 1995 by the State of California and the federal government to address environmental and water management problems associated with the Bay-Delta system. The system consists of an intricate web of waterways created at the junction of the San Francisco Bay, Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers, and the watershed that feeds them. The mission of the CALFED Bay-Delta Program is "to develop a long-term comprehensive plan that will restore ecological health and improve water management for beneficial uses of the Bay-Delta system."
According to the draft EIS/EIR:
The Bay-Delta is the largest estuary on the West Coast. It consists of a maze of tributaries, sloughs and islands and is a haven for plants and wildlife, supporting more than 750 plant and animal species. The Bay-Delta is critical to California’s economy, supplying drinking water for two-thirds of all Californians and irrigation water for 250 crops and livestock commodities which make California the world’s largest agricultural economy. Although all agree on its importance for both habitat and as a reliable source of water, few have agreed on how to manage and protect this valuable resource.
For decades the Bay-Delta has been the focus of competing economic, ecological, urban and agricultural interests. These conflicting demands have resulted in declining wildlife habitat, native plant and animal species becoming threatened with extinction; the degradation of the Delta as a reliable source of high quality water; and a Delta levee system faced with a high risk of failure.
Even though environmental, urban and agricultural interests have recognized the Delta as critical, for decades they have been unable to agree on appropriate management of the Delta resources.
The CALFED Bay-Delta Program (CALFED Program) is charged with responsibility for [development of a long-term solution to fish and wildlife, water supply reliability, flood control, and water quality problems in the Bay-Delta Estuary] identified in the Framework Agreement. This Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report (Programmatic EIS/EIR) evaluates this long term program.
There are three alternatives in the draft EIS/EIR. Each alternative contains several subalternatives.
The potential impacts of the alternatives according to the draft EIS/EIR on fisheries and aquatic ecosystems are excerpted below:
Adverse impacts would result from diversions to new storage, increased exports operation of an intertie and construction of south Delta barriers. Construction of new reservoirs could also affect spawning and rearing habitat.
Alternative 2 would have benefits associated with Delta flow conditions in the lower San Joaquin River which improve fish migration, and additional habitat restoration actions. Adverse impacts associated with Alternative 2 include increased entrainment, reduced productivity and habitat loss or degradation.
Alternative 3 would include additional benefits from flow conditions in the east, central, and south Delta that reduce entrainment, increase productivity and improve fish migration. Operation of an isolated facility could result in increased entrainment and habitat degradation.
A number of measures are available to avoid or mitigate impacts to fisheries and aquatic resources. Because of the uncertain results of actions affecting the ecosystem, CALFED actions will be implemented through an adaptive management approach. Adaptive management includes identification of indicators of ecosystem health, phased implementation, comprehensive monitoring of the indicators, and a commitment to remedial actions necessary to avoid, minimize, or mitigate immediate and future adverse impacts of project actions on ecosystem health. Mitigation measures would be part of an adaptive management program implemented to achieve the intent of the CALFED Bay-Delta Program and the major ecosystem-quality objectives.
Click here to see a map of the Bay-Delta and California (66K).
(Source: Phase I Final Report, CALFED Bay-Delta Program, September 1996.)
(Source: Phase I Final Report, CALFED Bay-Delta Program, September 1996.)
WHAT YOU CAN DO: The Environmental Water Caucus, an organization of recreational and commercial fishing organizations and environmental groups, calls the draft EIS/EIR a "repackaging of tired ideas rather than fresh, thoughtful solutions." The caucus is calling on the creation of a new or "smart" alternative which is based on conservation and restoration.
Written comments on the draft should be addressed to:
Mr. Rick Breitenbach
CALFED Bay-Delta Program
1416 9th Street, Suite 1155
Sacramento, CA 95814
Fax: (916) 654-9780
***Comments Must be Received by July 1, 1998 ***
To Obtain Further Information: The complete draft programmatic EIS/EIR is available in hard copy (note: it is 12 volumes in length). The Phase II Interim Report and Executive Summary may also be accessed on the CALFED Bay-Delta Program’s Internet site at: http://calfed.ca.gov, or requested in hard copy. To order material, call CALFED toll-free at (800) 900-3587.
For Further Information Contact: The CALFED Bay-Delta Program at (800) 900-3587; Jenna Olson, Environmental Water Caucus at (415) 977-5728.
GORTON ELWHA BILL CAUSES STIR
On April 1, 1998, Senator Slade Gorton (R-Wash.) introduced S. 1904 the "Elwha River Ecosystem and Fisheries Restoration Act of 1998."
(Source: Library of Congress)
Said Senator Gorton upon introducing* the bill April 1, 1998:
As I mentioned in my statement last fall, I have never been enthusiastic about the idea of dam removal on the Elwha River as a means to enhance declining salmon runs on the river. For many years, national environmental groups, the Clinton Administration, much of the Northwest media, and many Northwest elected officials have pushed for removal of both dams from the Elwha River. In 1992, I supported legislation to begin the process of having the government acquire both of these dams with an eye toward removing them someday.
While I have always been enthusiastic about the federal government buying these two dams from a local paper company, I continue to be skeptical toward claims that salmon runs will see a significant benefit through dam removal on the Elwha River. Anyone who believes otherwise needs to ask him why salmon runs on nearby rivers on the Olympic Peninsula with no dams are doing just as poorly.
[*Note: In his statement introducing his bill, Senator Gorton made no comments on the portions of the bill dealing with Columbia River Management.]
Gary Benson, president, Association of NW Steelheaders in Milwaukie, Oregon, said:
Gorton’s bill will condemn our salmon and steelhead to extinction by continuing the status quo of fish barging. The region needs an open debate over modifying dams to save salmon, yet Gorton is preventing this from moving forward. Fishing businesses continue to suffer due to fishing closures and declining runs and Senator Gorton’s bill will drive both the fish and these family-wage earners closer to extinction.
Ralph DeGennaro, executive director of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a national budget "watchdog" organization in Washington, D.C. said the following:
Senator Gorton’s Elwha bill in effect takes innocent American taxpayers hostage and demands ransom in the form of permanent, wasteful handouts to barge shippers, industrial electricity users and others. If removing Elwha dams makes sense, why punish taxpayers with unrelated payoffs to large industries?
Tim Stearns, executive director, Save Our Wild Salmon Coalition, an organization of 47 sport and commercial fishing groups, fishing businesses and conservationists, said:
This bill is a non-starter, and is based more in ideology and politics than biology and economics. Gorton is reneging on his promise to remove the Elwha dams. Does he also want to sabotage productive debate on Columbia Basin salmon and to prevent salmon recovery measures advocated by the large majority of independent scientists?
NOW WHAT: This bill is in the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Reports are that action on the bill is unlikely. Senator Gorton could use bill language as a "rider" (amendment) to other legislation. In an April 24 speech, Senator Gorton reacted to the broad criticism of his bill from "Big City newspapers" and the "Sierra Club and radical groups" as "unfounded and shortsighted."
Funds for the removal of Elwha River dam have already been budgeted in FY 1998 Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Funds from the LWCF for purchase and removal of the Elwha dam will hopefully be distributed this year. However, before LWCF funds can be distributed, they must be approved by Senator Slade Gorton (R-Wash.) and Representative Ralph Regula (R-Ohio), both of whom chair Department of Interior appropriations committees in the Senate and the House.
Click here for a map of Olympic National Park and the Elwha Dam (51K)
(Source: National Parks Service)
(Source: National Parks Service)
There are reports that the earmarked funds ($86 million) could be released after the FY 99 budget has cleared the House. There is a fear that not all earmarked funds will be designated for the Elwha project. Though the Clinton Administration reportedly continues to say that the Elwha portion of the LWCF funds is a top priority, a reduction in the $86 million is still a possibility.
For Further Information Contact: The Office of Senator Slade Gorton at (202) 224-3441, (202) 224-9393 (fax); Save Our Wild Salmon at (206) 622-2904.
CUTTHROAT PROCEEDINGS AVAILABLE
The Proceedings of the Sea-Run Cutthroat Trout Symposium are now available. This coastwide conference, sponsored jointly by the Lower Umpqua Flycasters and the Oregon Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, was held in Reedsport, Oregon in October 1995.
Included are 27 papers, totaling 183 pages, on topics of biology; status by state and province, from California to Alaska; a case study of the Umpqua River (where the species has been listed as endangered); and a section on restoration and recovery. Among the authors are Bob Behnke, Tom Northcote, Willa Nehlsen, Bill Pearcy, Pat Trotter, and Jack Williams. Also included are abstracts of several contributed papers and posters that were presented at the meeting.
TO ORDER: Checks should be made out to "Oregon Chapter, AFS." The publication is $20 prepaid and can be ordered from:
Oregon Chapter, American Fisheries Society
P.O. Box 722
Corvallis, OR 97339
NAT BINGHAM PASSES AWAY
The fishing community was shocked when long time fish habitat advocate Nat Bingham, 59, was found dead of natural causes in his Fort Bragg home in May.
Nat was a troller for a number of years, an employee of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA), and also a member of the Pacific Fishery Management Council. He was a driving force behind salmon habitat initiatives on the West Coast. His contributions as a member of the fishing industry into water and land use fish habitat issues in California, regionally and nationally are voluminous as was evidenced by him often being quoted in the Habitat Hotline.
There is now, unfortunately, a very large hole in the fishing industry representation on habitat issues. However, Nat will be missed for more than his professional accomplishments and activities, he will be missed because he was a truly unique and kind soul.
According to Zeke Grader, Executive Director of the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations:
He served as president of the PCFFA for nine years until going to work as the habitat director. He was a current member of the Pacific Fishery Management Council; prior to be appointed to the PFMC he served as chairman of that regional council’s Salmon Advisory Subpanel.
His work for fish restoration began over 25 years ago when he headed projects in North Coast watersheds with hatch box salmon rearing and stream restoration. He initiated the Sacramento winter-run salmon broodstock program (aimed at preventing the extinction of this unique salmon run) and the Sacramento spring-run chinook work group (aimed at rebuilding these populations as a means of averting an ESA listing). He was active in the efforts aimed at coho salmon recovery, following the listing of that species, and was a member of the Ecosystem Roundtable dealing with funding proposals for the Bay-Delta. He was also a long-time member of the Commercial Salmon Stamp Committee and the California Advisory Committee on Salmon and Steelhead Trout. He was also a proponent for protecting marine areas and was asked to serve on the PFMC’s committee dealing with that issue; and was to be the Pacific Council’s representative on the upcoming "Year of the Ocean Conference" in Monterey.
Nat Bingham was also known for his skills as a mediator and was, in many respects, the conscience of the commercial fishing industry. He was an independent thinker, a strong moral voice and a great conservationist. He would not back away from taking on large industry—whether it was oil, timber or agribusiness—the government, or even the environmental community or his own fishing industry when he felt they were wrong.
On May 30, 1998 a memorial service was held for Nat in at Mendocino Presbyterian Church in Mendocino, California. About 300 people attended the service. Speakers at the service included the vast array of Nat’s loved ones, friends, and colleagues; including state and local politicians, fishermen, conservationists, scientists, and government agencies. All spoke of their fond memories of this unique individual who fought for the environment and the fishing industry.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: A fund has been established in the California Commercial Salmon Stamp Account to fund restoration projects Nat was working on. Nat served on the committee overseeing the account, which is authorized by law to accept private donations, bequeaths, and grants.
Checks should be made out to: "Department of Fish & Game" with the notation "Commercial Salmon Stamp Account—Nat Bingham Memorial Fund," and mailed to: California Department of Fish & Game, Commercial Salmon Stamp Account, Fiscal & Administrative Services Branch, 1416 Ninth Street, Sacramento, CA 95814.
According to the Washington D.C.-based conservation group, Clean Water Network:
There are two groups of serious problems with the Jones mitigation banking [*] bill. First, the bill does not contain the types of environmental protections necessary to ensure that mitigation banking does not serve as an excuse for additional wetlands destruction in America. We have included below a listing of the many areas in which the Jones bill falls short of adequately protecting the environment.
Second, the Jones bill would do nothing to address the real reasons why America is still losing more than 100,000 acres of wetlands each year. Most importantly, it is extremely disappointing that the bill fails to codify the so-called Tulloch Rule [**], the 1993 regulation that prevents developers from draining wetlands without a Clean Water Act permit. Developers are currently seeking to have the Tulloch Rule overturned in federal court. There is bipartisan support in Congress for the Tulloch Rule; in recognition of this support, even the wetlands bills introduced on behalf of the developers in the past few years have included the Tulloch Rule. Thus, any wetlands bill passed by Congress should include the Tulloch Rule.
[*Note: Mitigation banking is where developers, with Corps/EPA approval, use a mitigation bank of wetlands acreage and function—known as credits—to replace the anticipated loss of wetlands acreage and functions at a development site.]
[**Note: The Tulloch Rule, adopted by the federal government in 1993, allows the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Environmental Protection Agency to regulate excavation practices used to drain wetlands. The Tulloch rule was struck down by a federal judge in January 1997. The ruling then was appealed by the Clinton Administration. The rule is in effect until the outcome of the appeal.]
On June 4, 1998, the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee (of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee) passed H.R. 1290, and forwarded it to the full committee.
For further information contact the Office of Representative Walter Jones at (202) 225-3121; Clean Water Network at (202) 289-2395.
COLONIAL WATERBIRDS (i.e., terns, cormorants, and gulls) may be important PREDATORS on juvenile salmonids in the lower Columbia River. We initiated a study in 1997 to assess the impacts of fish-eating birds on the survival of juvenile salmonids. The objectives of this study were to (1) estimate the size of piscivorous waterbird colonies in the lower Columbia River and determine their population trends, (2) estimate the number of juvenile salmonids consumed by these colonies, (3) identify the factors that influence avian predation rates on smolts, and (4) recommend ways to reduce predation on smolts, if warranted by the study results.
There are nine major colonies of fish-eating birds that nest on islands in the lower Columbia River and Estuary. Most of these islands are unnatural, created by either the dumping of dredge material or mainstem dam impoundments. The nesting chronology of up-river gull colonies was advanced compared to colonies in the estuary, with the exception of glaucous-winged/western gull hybrids nesting in the estuary which had the latest nesting chronology. Population censuses indicate that these bird colonies are large (a total of roughly 170,000 breeding birds) and increasing substantially each year. For example, Rice Island, a dredge material disposal island in the Columbia River Estuary, supports the largest known Caspian tern (Sterna caspia) colony in North America (over 16,000 birds), which has grown by over 600% since it was established in 1987.
We estimate that 5-20 million juvenile salmonids were consumed by Caspian terns nesting on Rice Island in 1997. We do not have sufficient data to estimate the number of juvenile salmonids lost to other bird predators (collection of these data is proposed in 1998), but preliminary data suggests it is in the millions. Various management alternatives to reduce predation by Caspian terns on juvenile salmonids are discussed [e.g., modification of smolt release practices, biological control of avian predators, providing alternative nesting sites].
For further information contact Ken Collis, Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission at (503) 238-0667; or Daniel Roby of Oregon State University at (541) 737-1955.
They are so prevalent in the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and in Delta, Suisun Bay and Bay area creeks that the state is considering listing some of those bodies as toxic hot spots.
Chris Foe, a biologist with the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board was attributed in the articles as saying that baby salmon, stripers and sturgeon have less to feed on as a result of the chemicals.
Using a methodology similar to that used in previous USGS assessments in the ANWR and the NPRA [National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska] this study estimates that the total quantity of technically recoverable oil in the 1002 area is 7.7 BBO [billion barrels of oil] (mean value)...Using a conservative estimate of 512 million barrels as a minimum commercially developable field size, then about 2.6 BBO of oil distributed in about three fields is expected to be economically recoverable in the undeformed part of the 1002 area. Using a similar estimated minimum field size, which may not be conservative considering the increased distance from infrastructure, the deformed area would be expected to have about 600 MBO [Million Barrels of Oil] in one field.
The amounts of in-place oil estimated for the 1002 area are larger than previous USGS estimates. The increase results in large part from improved resolution of reprocessed seismic data and geologic analogs provided by recent nearby oil discoveries.
Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, was quoted as saying:
The numbers show once again that this area of Alaska is still the single best prospect in America to explore for oil—oil that would enable us to reduce our dependence on foreign sources.
But Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt said the report’s findings that there are probably no fields the size of Prudhoe Bay should come as a "cold shower of reality for those who continue to seek a justification for oil drilling within the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge." Babbitt was further quoted as saying:
There are places on the Arctic coastal plain that should be forever set aside to sustain and protect the abundance of wildlife. The coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge must remain that place.
(Source: David Whitney, Anchorage Daily News, 5/18/98)
According to the article:
Heating up the atmosphere could reduce the natural ability of the ocean to suck up some of the gas like a sponge and carry it to the depths, Jorge Sarmiento and colleagues at Princeton University reported in a study appearing in...the journal Nature. On the other hand, the study suggested global warming could change marine life in a way that might increase the absorption.
In another study appearing in the same journal, scientists suggested that trees and vegetation might be able to absorb more of the excess gas than researchers previously thought. But that study from Mingkui Cao of the University of Virginia and F. Ian Woodward of the University of Sheffield in England was based on models that excluded forest, fires, clear-cutting or other factors that could alter the picture.
The city [of Juneau] is planning an EXPANDED WASTEWATER TREATMENT center at AUKE BAY to handle population growth in that area and the nearby West Mendenhall Valley. According to the city, the current plant exceeds its capacity during peak times and sends sludge directly into Auke Bay. The expanded plant would increase capacity and allow better sewage treatment. Cost of the Auke Bay expansion is estimated at about $600,000. Eventually, the city intends to pipe sewage from the Auke Bay area into the Mendenhall Valley treatment center near the Mendenhall River, but that project’s cost is projected at $11 million and it won’t be complete for a number of years.
Partners include the Governor’s Watershed Enhancement Board, the City of Seaside, the North Coast Land Conservancy, and the Coastal Studies Technology Center.
The North Land Conservancy, a county-based land trust, already owns 25 acres along the lower reaches of Neawanna Creek and has conservation easements on another 15 acres. Priorities for acquisition include about 20 acres along the estuary and a 78-acre spruce swamp. Other potential targets include several old mill ponds that could be reconnected to the estuary.
Located just a few blocks east of Highway 101, the extensive tidal marshes along Neawanna Creek represent a side of Seaside most tourists never see: a relatively healthy coastal wetland system that supports one of the strongest remaining runs of native coho salmon on the north coast. (Source: Oregon Wetlands, the Oregon Wetlands Joint Venture, March 1998.)
For further information contact Neal Maine, North Coast Land Conservancy at (503) 738-4021.
Over the next 15 months, the Public Involvement and Education Fund (PIE Fund) projects will help people in Puget Sound better understand and solve problems related to watersheds, fish and wildlife habitat, stormwater landowners, community groups, local and tribal governments, and youth will be encouraged to take action and put project information to work in their daily lives.
For further information contact Susanne Hindle of the Water Quality Action Team at (360) 407-7300.
According to ODFW:
There are many thousands of irrigation diversions in use throughout Oregon. Because these diversions are designed to draw water out of streams and into pastures and fields to water crops, salmon, steelhead, trout and other fish species are at risk of being inadvertently diverted out of the streams as well. Fish may stray into irrigation ditches and die later in the summer as the water levels in the ditches drop. They may also be sucked into pumps or irrigation pipes. The State of Oregon encourages fish screening devices on all irrigation diversions. However, many diversions have never been screened or have old, malfunctioning screens that need to be replaced.
To encourage more farmers and ranchers to screen their irrigation diversions, ODFW offers economic incentives in the form of the Fish Screening Cost Share Program. Eligible irrigators are reimbursed for 60 percent of the total cost of installing a self-cleaning or manually-cleaning screen on their irrigation diversions, up to $10,000 per screening device. The irrigator pays the remaining 40 percent in cash or in-kind labor. Tax credits are also available in the amount of 50 percent of the irrigator’s cost, up to a maximum of $5,000.
(Source: Oregon Fish Works, Spring 1998, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.)
For further information on ODFW’s screening program, for areas in Oregon west of Prineville, contact Bernie Kepshire at (541) 757- 4186; and for the rest of the state, contact Adam Schumacher at (541) 575-0561
EDITOR’S NOTE: We welcome information on habitat news in your area. Information should pertain to habitat of marine, estuarine, or anadromous fish or shellfish. Feel free to fax us newspaper articles, copies of letters, public hearing notices, etc., to (503) 650-5426. Funding for this publication comes in part from Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration. If you have any questions regarding the contents of this publication, or about our habitat education program, please contact: Stephen Phillips, Editor, Habitat Hotline, 45 SE 82nd Drive, Suite 100, Gladstone, Oregon 97027-2522. Phone: (503) 650-5400, Fax: (503) 650-5426. Messages can also be E-mailed to Stephen_Phillips@ psmfc.org. Editorial assistance and layout by Liza Bauman. Date of Issue: 06/08/98.