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Snake River Sockeye Make Most Endangered List:  New Report Highlights Ten American Species Our Children May Never See

sockeye.webSeptember 23, 2014

Washington, D.C. – Our children are less likely to see monarch butterflies, a bumblebee, and a host of other once-common wildlife species due to farm pesticides, declining ocean health, climate change and dirty energy production, according to a new report by the Endangered Species Coalition. The report, Vanishing: Ten American Species Our Children May Never See, highlights ten disappearing species and the causes of their dramatic population declines. Additionally, the report identifies everyday actions that people can take to help slow the disappearance of our nation’s iconic wildlife. The report can be viewed and downloaded from the website:

“With each passing day, our children are less and less likely to experience the full beauty of nature and see the kind of wildlife that baby boomers, Gen Xers, and even Millennials experienced,” said Leda Huta, executive director of the Endangered Species Coalition. “We owe it to our future generations of Americans to protect our vanishing wildlife and the special places they call home.”

According to the report, up to a billion monarch butterflies used to color our skies each summer, yet only about 33 million remain – a decline of more than 90 percent. Additionally, the once-common little brown bat has been decimated by the fungal disease, White-nose syndrome, and is now virtually extinct in the Northeast United States. Finally, the rusty-patched bumblebee, an important pollinator, has disappeared across 87 percent of its range, and diseases are thought to be responsible.

Coalition member groups nominated wildlife species in the report. A committee of distinguished scientists reviewed the nominations, and decided which species should be included in the report. “Scientists agree that climate change is a huge threat in many direct and indirect ways to species diversity and survival,” said Dr. Jan Randall, Professor Emeritus of Biology at San Francisco State University, and chair of the scientific advisory committee for the report.

“As the situation for many species grows ever more dire, our direct actions are able to rescue some of them from extinction,” said Dr. Peter Raven, President Emeritus, Missouri Botanical Garden. “This list should inspire hope and at the same time lead us to devote full attention to the species most in need.”

The ten species in the report are the mountain yellow-legged frog, monarch butterfly, North Pacific right whale, great white shark, little brown bat, whitebark pine, rusty patched bumblebee, greater sage-grouse, polar bear, and the Snake River sockeye salmon.

“Snake River sockeye are among the highest and farthest migrating salmon on the planet – climbing 6,000 feet in elevation and 900 miles against the current to return to their spawning grounds,” said Sam Mace, Inland Northwest Program Director for the Save Our wild Salmon Coalition. “We are the last generation that can save these extraordinary fish from extinction.”


Seattle P-I: Chinook salmon returning to reservoir sites on Elwha River

elwhariverSeptember 12, 2014

By Joel Connelly
The largest dam removal in history experienced a key first signal of success this week, as three adult Chinook salmon were spotted above the site of recently blasted-away Glines Canyon Dam on the Elwha River in Washington’s Olympic National Park.

The discovery, by snorkeling Park Service biologists, marks the first return of Chinook in 102 years to upper reaches of the Olympic Peninsula’s master river.

“When dam removal began three years ago, Chinook salmon were blocked far downstream by Elwha Dam.  Today, we celebrate the return of Chinook to the upper Elwha River for the first time in over a century,” said Olympic National Park Superintendent Sarah Creachbaum.

The dam removal will open up an estimated 70 miles of salmon habitat in a river system once populated by thousands of Chinook salmon, some reaching 100 pounds in size.


Columbia Basin Bulletin: Dworshak Unit Out: River Managers Mull Options To Maintain Cool Conditions For Snake River Salmon

Friday, August 22, 2014 

DworshakA primary source of cool water used to improve Snake River salmon summertime migration conditions was pinched Aug. 15, leaving fish and hydro system management representatives to debate how to make the best out of a bad situation.

Unit 3 at Dworshak Dam – the largest of the three generating units at the dam in terms of water passing capability-- went out of service at 3:30 p.m. last Friday due to a ground fault that resulted in a reduction of outflow from 9,800 cubic feet per second down to 6.5 kcfs. That 6.5 kcfs total includes about 2 kcfs released through spill gates to replace a part of the roughly 5.5 kcfs in flow lost when Unit 3 was shut down.

From a fish migration perspective, running as much cool water as possible through the turbines is a preferred option because that operation stirs up little total dissolved gas in the river below while helping improve migration conditions.

Another water release option is spill. It creates more TDG that can at higher levels threaten fish health.

Federal, state and tribal fish managers on Wednesday asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the dam, to push up spill to restore outflows to previous levels of about 10 kcfs in order to increase the probability that water temperatures downstream will be at desired levels.

Signed on to the “system operational request” are the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Colville Tribes, the Nez Perce Tribe and the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. A spokesman for the state of Idaho said it would not object to the proposed operation.




Al Jazeera: Elder’s devotion to ugly fish lives on after his tragic death

Elmer Crow believed the eel-like lamprey plays an important role in ecosystem balance

American eelAugust 20, 2014

by Kevin Taylor

SPALDING, Idaho — Like salmon, lampreys are born in fresh water and journey to the ocean for several years before they return to spawn. They once numbered in the millions up and down the Columbia and Snake river basins of Washington and Idaho, but unlike with wild salmon, few people seem to care that lampreys are now nearly gone. But Elmer Crow Jr. did.

Crow, who died tragically a year ago, would sometimes see lone lampreys undulate past while he was out fishing. He said he always wondered if he was seeing the last one. A Nez Perce tribal elder and fisheries worker, he worked tirelessly to save the ancient fish from extinction. He encouraged an experimental technique called translocation — gathering lampreys from the lower Columbia River, where they are still relatively plentiful, and releasing them in Idaho mountain streams in hopes they would spawn there.

When Crow and others drove to John Day Dam on the lower Columbia to collect the eel-like adult lampreys and haul them back to the Nez Perce hatchery in late 2006, nobody really knew if translocation would work. The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation have been running a lamprey translocation program since the early 2000s, but only last year have they started to see small but encouraging returns of adult lampreys.

This summer, when fisheries biologists sorted through the findings in a screw trap anchored in a central Idaho mountain stream, they discovered Crow was right.


Fish Experts Plan A Salmon Water Slide On Cracked Wanapum Dam

wanapum1The ongoing issue with the cracked Wanapum Dam in central Washington is now creating a problem for migrating salmon.

By Anna King, Northwest News Network | March 20, 2014

The drawdown of water between the Wanapum and the Rock Island dams to relieve pressure on the crack means the water levels are down about 25 feet at the base of both dams.

That leaves fish ladders high and dry.

Now, government fish scientists and engineers are trying to figure out just how to get adult salmon by both hulking concrete structures. At Wanapum, engineers plan to pump water into the fish ladder and create a sort of waterslide for salmon.
Russell Langshaw, a fisheries scientist with Grant County utility district that owns and operates Wanapum, says record numbers of fish are headed that way, so they have to get it figured out by mid-April.
“We have a lot of fish coming back this year, and we agree it’s an absolute necessity that we have safe and effective passage at both Wanapum and Rock Island dams.”
Langshaw says the smaller, juvenile fish are expected to be fine. They’re going downstream, and can move through the spillways and turbines.

Wenatchee World: Wanapum Dam spillway crack, showing algae, likely not new

wanapumThe 2-inch-thick underwater crack at Wanapum Dam, on the Columbia River near Vantage, Wash., extends horizontally across the upstream side of the 65-foot-wide pier called a monolith. It’s one of 12 monoliths on the spillway.

Christine Pratt, Wenatchee World
March 19, 2014
BEVERLY, Wash. – The large crack in part of the Wanapum Dam spillway may have been there long before divers detected and photographed it Feb. 27.

The crack, which measured about 2 inches thick by 65 feet wide when divers first observed it near the base and across the full width of one of the dam’s concrete support piers, had algae growing on the fracture, Dawn Woodward, director of hydro operations for the Ephrata-based utility, told the Wenatchee World’s editorial board last week.

Other parts of the fracture appeared clean, indicating that they may have been more recent.
“We see some evidence that the fracture began some time ago,” Woodward said. “The critical path is to determine the root cause."

The fracture is on the upriver side of the Number 4 concrete pier, also called a “monolith” by public utility district staffers. It’s between spillgates 3 and 4.


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