THE FISH ARE AT RISK.............TIME TO HELP

THE FISH ARE AT RISK.............TIME TO HELP

Hi all,

Now that NOF is done with, hopefully, it looks like next up and coming fast is the dry conditions / low flows in our streams. Being 67 ( and getting older than dirt ) and being raised on a farm with haying, working construction in the woods for 39 years, and broodstocking fish for 25 years my memories of weather go way back. Most folks do not have that memory and do not realize we have not had really dry summers for over 15 years. We have been in a mild ( damp ) thing for some years so it just was not a issue. It appears Mother Nature is out to put an end to that. 

So what to do? Not much I am sorry to say. Our loses ( and it looks like they are going to be large )  are primarily in the juvenile rearing areas. Think of it this way, the damage is greatest at this minute in the small streams, beaver ponds and sloughs. Water temperatures are up, Dissolved Oxygen ( DO ) will be down in slack water environments and juveniles will parish. It has already happened on Black River which is rather like the "canary in a coal mine" as Black River is where this normally shows first. 

What can be done is this. If you see a fish kill take a picture, get the location down pat, and let WDF&W staff in Montesano know. If it is an adult it is just as important to get the location and if you have a obvious cause of death. E mail it or call do whatever is needed to get the information to them.  Here is Mike Scharpf 's E mail address to send things in Raymond.Scharpf@dfw.wa.gov  & Region 6's phone is 360 249 4628. This could get ugly for the fish folks and staff can use some help. 

Yes I know that  the agencies responses will look and likely are a bit off dead center but staff lacks the institutional memory that those of us who have lived most of our lives here. Add to that WDF&W just went through a really brutal  legislative session and Willapa Policy which really tied them up. Then we add to the mix the fact that this year the OP & Cascade streams did not have a snow pack which translates into a "one size fits all approach" coming out of Olympia. So before my e mail catches fire, yes I know that is counterproductive. Yes I know that the Chehalis is not Puget Sound and yes I know we are rain fed streams which are different. Still folks we can set and watch staff dash to & fro providing some awesome entertainment but that does little for the fish. Also this,  Region 6 District 17 staff are trying and I mean really trying. Again yes I know that the past conduct of staff has been, well how about not ideal for the fish or inland communities. I urge all to get past that and help staff track this thing. Since Steve Thiesfeld came to Region 6 he has worked very hard to turn things around. Now if one thinks that the shortfalls in their approach to the stream conditions at this minute have not been pointed out BLUNTLY  you would be wrong. ( and I mean a Dave bluntly not this PC or good manners bit ) In fact bets are I am blackballed ....... again! That said folks we can set and watch them fail or try to help out. I think maybe helping them when possible makes a little more sense. 

Another issue folks is the Springers in the Chehalis. To put it simply we have a poaching problem that is getting out of hand. It appears to have reared its ugly head on the Newaukum big time. While this is not totally new it appears the scope & scale is. Couple that with the fact that it appears to have happened right in the middle of a Springer tracking research effort by Region 6 it appears staff about had a stroke and rightly so. Our Springer run is not a true Springer like the Columbia, OP, or Puget Sound but rather a early summer Chinook that uses upwelling's in the rivers to survive the summer and they are bunched up hard and very vulnerable. 

So again folks if you see signs of poaching pictures, location, and let staff know or call it into Enforcement. Again to save my computer screen, yes I know this is not a new problem. Yes I know that Enforcement and Montesano staff have known this for years. Yes I know Enforcement has spent more time out bugging folks about flossing, barbless hooks, just everything one can imagine, and ignored this problem. Let it go for the fish guys. We have a new Director, a new management policy and it is a new day. (hopefully) So if you see poaching on the Springers call it in. Those of you the live up basin know where the Springers hold so keep a eye out. Spread the word among yourselves and for this year for the fish let the past be that. 

The new Grays Harbor Policy has net free days and much that guarantees equal access for harvest. It was a huge effort by many citizens and the Commission that will help overcome the discrimination that the inland communities and fisher suffered for so many years with the old kill all in the lower river at Aberdeen mentality. Which by the way was always followed by inriver / inland shouldering the vast majority of salmon conservation. 

It is our call folks. Ignore the Springer poaching and the price in the future will in all likelihood rather draconian for the fish and us.  The thing is WDF&W could not stop the poaching due to budget cuts even if they wanted to as they are simply stretched too thin but you folks in the upper basin can help put a dent in it. It is that time. 

Dave        

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