Important articles published by national and regional news outlets related to wild salmon restoration in the Columbia and Snake Rivers.
Lewiston Tribune: Sockeye salmon in hot water
By ERIC BARKER
Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Warm water in the Snake and Columbia rivers is walloping endangered Snake River sockeye, but Idaho Fish and Game officials are hopeful at least some of the salmon will rest in pockets of cold water and resume their migration when temperatures moderate.
There is some evidence that is happening below Lyons Ferry Hatchery, and the state and Nez Perce Tribe are considering options to trap the fish and truck them to hatcheries or lakes in the Stanley Basin.
According to the National Marine Fisheries Service, the above-average temperatures in the two rivers may eventually kill half of the 500,000 unprotected sockeye bound for the upper Columbia River and most of the listed sockeye headed for the Snake River.
"We think probably 80 to 90 percent of the adult (Snake River) sockeye are going to be lost this year," said Michael Milstein, a spokesman for the federal fisheries agency at Portland, Ore.
Pete Hassemer, salmon and steelhead fisheries manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at Boise, said it was too early to make such a dire prediction.
"It's bad, but it's still early enough in the season, if the temperatures cool and if we stimulate some movement, we can trap them and truck them up to Eagle Fish Hatchery so we can get fish for brood (stock) and release them into the Redfish Lake."
More than 4,000 Snake River sockeye salmon have passed Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River, but only about 350 of those have been counted at Lower Granite Dam on the Snake River. Idaho recently began an emergency effort to intercept sockeye at Lower Granite and truck them to the Eagle Fish Hatchery near Boise. As of Monday, 37 sockeye had been trapped there and loaded on trucks.
That emergency operation could expand to Lyons Ferry Hatchery on the Snake River near Starbuck. The hatchery uses cold spring water to raise steelhead and fall chinook. Hatchery employees have noticed sockeye salmon stacking up in the hatchery's effluent. In a cooperative effort, the trap at Lyons Ferry was opened Monday in hopes sockeye will follow the cold water into the hatchery.
But as of Monday afternoon, no sockeye had entered the trap. If the fish continue to be reluctant to enter the hatchery, seine nets could be used to capture them.
"We told (Idaho officials) we would send down some boats. We have a lot of seine nets we use to sample fall chinook," said Becky Johnson, production manager for Nez Perce Tribal Fisheries Program. "The Nez Perce Tribe would be available to help with a collection effort if there are some adults holding out there in the effluent but not converting into the trap."
Sockeye are Idaho's most endangered salmon species. They teetered on the brink of extinction in the 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century.
But a captive breeding program, where the fish were spawned in a hatchery and some of their offspring were kept there for their entire life cycles and spawned again, eventually boosted the number of sockeye returning from the ocean from the single digits to more than 1,500. Two years ago, Idaho constructed a sockeye hatchery that will eventually produce more than 1 million juvenile fish per year.
While still critically endangered, the species appeared to back away from the brink of extinction this decade and state and federal fisheries officials were hopeful they could continue to build on their success.
This year could be a set back. But even if the adult run turns out to be disastrously low, Mike Peterson, an Idaho sockeye biologist, said the hatchery program would continue at full speed using fish from the still active captive breeding program.
"The fact that we still have the captive brood stock program in place, even though migration conditions are not real good this year in terms of warm water, we are going to be able to make our egg take with the fish we have on hand."
When possible, he said the goal of the sockeye program is to use fish that have migrated to and from the ocean for both hatchery breeding and for wild spawning. However, the hatchery spawning needs can be backfilled with the captive sockeye.
So far, none of the sockeye counted at Lower Granite Dam have arrived at traps in the Stanley Basin of central Idaho. Peterson said he expects that to happen any day. But those fish faced higher-than-average temperatures in the Salmon River.
The heat wave in late June and early July sent river temperatures as high as 78 degrees near White Bird. Temperatures above 72 degrees can be lethal for salmon.
Peterson said he hopes to learn something from the 4,000 or so adult sockeye missing between Bonneville and Lower Granite dams.
"I think mortality is going to be an issue," he said. "What I'm kind of hoping to learn from these fish is whether they will pull into some sort of thermal refuge and, once conditions cool off, whether or not we will see those fish start moving again."
"I kind of think these fish might be holding on and we might see a push later on over Lower Granite Dam. But I don't know if I would expect any of those fish to make it back to the (Stanley) Basin."
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Lewiston Tribune: Layoffs come to call at Lewiston's Port
By ELAINE WILLIAMS
April 9, 2015 12:00 am
Lewiston Port Manager David Doeringsfeld talks about the container shipping situation at Portland, Ore., that has now stopped container traffic to the Lewiston port on the Columbia-Snake river system. Port Commissioner Mike Thomason listens during the Wednesday meeting.
Two of the four employees at the Port of Lewiston's container operation are losing their jobs and another is being cut to half time as their employer faces the reality of no longer handling shipping containers.
One employee will remain to cover whatever business the port finds for its dock, and will be assigned other duties, such as maintenance.
The container yard's scheduler is the employee who is going to part time. She will do bookkeeping and provide technical expertise as the port looks for new customers.
"She knows a heck of a lot more about pricing and moving commodities than I do," said Port Manager David Doeringsfeld.
The layoffs were announced at Wednesday's port commission meeting, just one day after Hapag-Lloyd confirmed it would no longer call on the Port of Portland in Oregon. More than a dozen community members and economic development experts attended the meeting, asking questions about the issue or offering to help.
The news prompted the Port of Lewiston to suspend its container operations indefinitely. Hapag-Lloyd shipped most of the containers that originated in Lewiston and traveled the Snake and Columbia rivers to Portland on their way to overseas destinations.
Hapag-Lloyd was one of two remaining container carriers at the Port of Portland, where almost all outbound cargo from the Port of Lewiston goes before being transferred to oceangoing ships. Another, Hanjin, left Portland in March.
Exactly what effect the change will have on the port's finances is not clear. Doeringsfeld predicts the loss for this fiscal year could be in the neighborhood of $20,000.
By comparison, container operations generated $1.5 million for the port in fiscal years 2007 through 2014, Doeringsfeld said, including $900,000 from megaloads.
It's too soon to know about next year since the port could find new users for the dock, he said, such as makers of wood pellets, clay or large pieces of equipment like rock pickers that might be rolled on or off a vessel.
Lewiston port commissioners said they have been dealing with the possibility of discontinued container shipping on many fronts.
In one instance, Commissioner Jerry Klemm wrote an email to a labor leader he knows. Klemm asked for the labor leader's help in seeking a resolution to conflict between union workers and Portland container terminal operator ICTSI Oregon, which has been blamed for slow handling of containers at the Port of Portland. The email recipient, Klemm said, acknowledged the communication.
"The union has sought to improve operations only to be rebuffed by ICTSI management," International Longshore and Warehouse Union spokeswoman Jennifer Sargent wrote in an email.
"We hope that ICTSI revises its 'take it or leave it' approach with their workforce, customers and vendors, because it's been tremendously hurtful to the entire region," Sargent wrote.
ICTSI did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The Lewiston port commission has also brought the issue to the attention of Idaho Gov. C.L. (Butch) Otter and Idaho Department of Agriculture Director Celia Gould, said Port Commissioner Mary Hasenoehrl.
The hope was they might influence Oregon's governor, who appoints Port of Portland commissioners, Hasenoehrl said.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown has been following what's unfolding at the Port of Portland closely, said Chris Pair, a spokesman at her office in Salem.
"We're engaged in negotiations," Pair said. "It isn't something we just let happen."
Brown unveiled a $250,000 project Wednesday to compile a list of recommendations for Oregon's 2016 Legislature to help small- and medium-sized businesses with their transportation challenges.
Regardless of how successful those efforts are, Hasenoehrl said the Port of Lewiston will continue to be relevant.
"We still have a lot of work to do with our economic development," she said.
In other business, Port of Lewiston commissioners allocated $10,000 for a new public outreach initiative with the ports of Clarkston and Whitman County, which are also contributing $10,000 each.
"The committee shall have the authority to collect and disseminate information and to engage services of consultants and experts on an as-needed basis," according to a description of the initiative in an agreement approved by all three ports.
Oregonian: Tribes warn of imminent fish passage crisis at damaged Wanapum Dam, ask feds to step in
April 9, 2014
By Ted Sickinger
Native American tribes say not enough is being done to address an “imminent crisis” in fish passage on the Columbia River due to the drawdown of the reservoir behind the damaged Wanapum Dam in central Washington.
In late February, the dam’s operator, Grant County Public Utility District, discovered a 65-foot-long crack in a concrete spillway pier at the dam and was forced to draw down the reservoir behind the dam to relieve pressure on the structure. The utility has hired a contractor to drill core samples in the dam and determine the extent of the problem. That job should be done by June.
Paul Lumley in the Oregonian: To manage the Columbia River, we need a new treaty for a new era
Paul Lumley's op-ed on the Columbia River Treaty, which appeared in The Oregonian May 5, opens a subject SOS members will hear and do more about: how can Northwest people make sure that the 50-year-old Columbia River Treaty is modernized for today's, and tomorrow's, Northwest? The Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, which Mr. Lumley heads, represents four of 15 Columbia Basin Tribes that have joined together inside the Treaty process to make the Treaty's purposes and provisions better serve our new century. After a recent meeting with them, SOS and others have begun working together to assist the Tribes from outside the Treaty process. Or, more accurately, the Treaty process will soon become a political process - as it should - and that's where we'll work. Lumley's op-ed helps show why we are excited to assist the 15 Tribes' efforts to improve the Columbia River Treaty.
Oregonian Guest Opinion: To manage the Columbia River, we need a new treaty for a new era
By Paul Lumley. May 04, 2013.
The Columbia River Treaty between the United States and Canada has been a hybrid of fears and profits since its ratification in 1964. Narrowly designed for flood control and optimized hydropower production, the treaty has locked in 1960s priorities that do not reflect the modern values and considerations of our time.
Over the course of the half-century since the treaty was made, the region's measure of the Columbia River basin's benefits has evolved to encompass uses that extend beyond power production and aggressive flood control. Regional and national values, as reflected in laws such as the Endangered Species Act, have expanded to include healthy fish populations and healthy ecosystems. Ecological requirements are not included in the current treaty, but now is the time to move them into the limelight.
Before the treaty's 50-year control of the river gives way to a new era, a progressive regional recommendation must be put forth that reflects this evolution of societal values. A modernized treaty should provide equally for ecosystem requirements, hydropower operations and flood-risk management. Working through the treaty review process, the region must look beyond the narrow approach employed 50 years ago and take a broad look at what the river needs. Equal consideration of improved spring migration of salmon, seasonal flushing of the estuary, resident fish requirements and salmon passage at all historic locations are all needs of the Columbia River basin to include in a new treaty.
Let's move beyond our fears of flooding and begin a new conversation on flood-risk management. Flooding is a natural process that benefits the estuary and cannot always be prevented. The 1948 Vanport Flood, often used as a scare tactic to defend the current treaty, would not have been prevented even with the Columbia River Treaty dams in place. New approaches to flood-risk management can provide lower-river benefits without creating havoc in upriver reservoirs.
The Northwest region is scheduled to make a recommendation to the U.S. State Department by year's end on the future of the Columbia River Treaty. The U.S. and Canada will address several major issues, including the sharing of risks and benefits. The Columbia basin tribes will work to include river health as a regional benefit, not something to be negotiated away.
The United States has a monumental opportunity to do the right thing for the Columbia basin's fish populations. The tribes are steadfast in our belief that the Columbia basin ecosystem -- ignored 50 years ago -- must be incorporated this time around.
The salmon and other natural resources are depending on all of us as stewards of their future. Let's make sure that the next Columbia River Treaty is a treaty of our time and our values.
Paul Lumley is a citizen of the Yakama Nation and executive director of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission. CRITFC provides technical support and coordination for fishery-management policies of the Columbia basin's four treaty tribes: the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon, the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, and the Nez Perce Tribe.
Lewiston Morning Tribune: Crowded conditions likely on Clearwater
By Eric Barker of the Tribune, May 2, 2013
Salmon anglers are accustomed to rising early, sometimes long before fishing hours, to ensure they get a prime spot.
Those fishing the Clearwater River might be forced to go to even further extremes this year.
A below-average return of spring chinook prompted the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to close long stretches of the river and to limit fishing to Fridays through Mondays.
"They are going to shove a lot of people into a little area and everybody is going to be fighting for spots," said Toby Wyatt, owner of Reel Time Fishing of Clarkston. "It's going to be mayhem."
The river will be closed to chinook fishing from Arrow Bridge to the mouth of the North Fork and from Greer Bridge to the mouth of the South Fork. The Lochsa River won't open at all and only a short section of the South Fork Clearwater, from the State Highway 13 bridge near the Harpster Grade to the State Highway 14 bridge near the Mount Idaho Grade, will be open.
That will make for stiff competition when it comes to territory.
"People who want to get in those holes are going to have to get there at 3 in the morning," Wyatt said.
Joe DuPont, fisheries manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game at Lewiston, said some people will be forced to find new places to fish and others will contend with crowding at their favorite holes.
"People used to fishing in one area might see people they haven't seen before, so yes, there is going to be a need for people to get along."
He said the Clearwater regulations were designed to try to ensure the small number of chinook available for harvest are shared evenly over time and throughout the river system. This year's run, as measured at Bonneville Dam, got a late start. Fisheries managers like DuPont still don't know if the run is simply late, as it has been over the past few years, or weaker than expected.
To make sure enough adults return to Clearwater River hatcheries to meet spawning targets, the department took a conservative approach to season setting. That means if the run is simply late, there is a chance there will be more fish to catch than expected.
DuPont said the department prefers to loosen regulations if the strength of the run allows rather than to be overly optimistic and have to shut fishing down early.
"I'm hoping we can expand areas and expand days, but I guess that is yet to be determined."
Outfitter Jason Schultz of Hells Canyon Sport Fishing at Lewiston said he thinks there is some reason to believe the run might be stronger than the forecast used to set fishing regulations. According to his theory, fishing in the lower Columbia River in Oregon and Washington is concentrated on the early part of the run. Fish that return to Idaho have the furthest to swim, so they are generally the first to pulse through the lower Columbia and because of that they face heavy fishing pressure. But the Idaho fish that bring up the rear face less pressure downriver and have a better shot at reaching their destinations.
"Over the years, it is making our run later and later and later," Schultz said.
Evelyn Kaide, owner of the Guide Shop and Clearwater Drifters at Orofino, said planning for spring chinook fishing is nearly impossible.
"We've had some really good years and some bad years and we've gotten stopped in the middle of the season and then had it reopen," she said. "Everyone of them has been different."
Many outfitters like Kaide, Schultz and Wyatt book trips before the season starts and are now juggling to compensate for the days of the week fishing won't be allowed.
"It's tough and it's very nerve-racking," Kaide said.
But she said once people start fishing, they should try their best to get along and forget about the hassles of booking trips or getting their spots.
"You just got to let it go and just fish," she said.
For those looking to avoid the crowds, the vast stretches of lower Salmon and Little Salmon rivers and the Snake River in Hells Canyon will be open seven days a week.
Crosscut.com: Salmon - Will the feds ever get their dam act together?
In preparing a new Biological Opinion, NOAA asks stakeholders how to resolve longstanding conflicts between Northwest dams and salmon.
By Daniel Jack Chasan
April 23, 2013
It's April, so once again, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is spilling water over Columbia River system dams, speeding salmon smolts on their way downstream. The spill is "voluntary," but since 2006, federal courts have ordered the Corps to spill water over the lower Snake River dams every spring. Three years ago, the Corps, the Bonneville Power Administration, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Northwest office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration proposed a shortened spill period, but after several scientific groups suggested that would be a bad idea, they thought better of it. The agencies have, at least for the time being, stopped fighting over spring spill.
However, there's no sign that the Obama administration has stopped fighting for approval of a Biological Opinion (BiOp) on operation of the Columbia River dams. (A Biological Opinion, issued by a regulatory agency such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, assesses the impact of some action on an endangered species.)
The first Columbia River system salmon population (Snake River sockeye) was listed in 1991. The feds have yet to produce a BiOp that can survive its day in court. U.S. District Judge James Redden tossed the last effort — basically an Obama administration repackaging of a Bush administration plan — in 2011. That document relied on possibly-fictitious habitat improvements to recover endangered salmon, and didn't even consider breaching the lower Snake River dams. Redden ordered the feds to produce a new BiOp by next January 1.
So far, people outside the government say they have no indication that the new plan will differ significantly from what has been found wanting in the past. But that doesn't mean nothing has changed.
Under NOAA's aegis, the William D. Ruckelshaus Center and Oregon Consensus are interviewing "stakeholders" — or, if you prefer, interest group representatives — about salmon and dams. People are being asked what the major issues affecting salmon are and how they'll know recovery when they see it; beyond that, the questions are about process. This marks the first time NOAA has solicited the opinions of interest groups — beyond the traditional insiders — about the longstanding regional conflicts between dams and salmon.
Logically, these discussions will figure into NOAA's preparation of a new BiOp, but that is far from certain. For now, the two processes are being kept apart. The new BiOp would shape operation of the dam system through 2018. The stakeholder process would help shape a discussion of how to operate the dams after 2018. This isn't exactly the fast track. The interviews won't wrap up until the fall. The BiOp is due at the end of the year. Presumably, no one expects the former to have much effect on the latter.
- Jan 21, 2013 - Lewiston Morning Tribune: Analysis questions economics of barging
- Dec 21, 2012 - AP: Wyden welcomes federal agency’s plan to seek consensus on saving salmon
- Dec 21, 2012 - NOAA takes first step toward building consensus
- Nov 19, 2012 - The Return of the Redfish
- Oct 10, 2012 - Idaho Statesman: Powerful Wyden supports new salmon talks
- May 29, 2012 - Idaho Statesman: The legacy of Lonesome Larry
- May 21, 2012 - Radio Boise: Judge Redden Supports Dam Breaching for Salmon
- Apr 05, 2012 - TrailRunner features The Great Salmon Run
- Jan 05, 2012 - Dammed If We Don't - an essay from Patagonia's Yvon Chouinard
- Nov 22, 2011 - Salmon Groups: Let’s Try Something Totally Different
- Oct 18, 2011 - The Great Salmon Runners Return
- Oct 14, 2011 - Nez Perce Tribe calls on Senate for leadership
- Sep 14, 2011 - The Elwha Project: Lessons for the Lower Snake River
- Aug 18, 2011 - Lewiston Tribune: 'More aggressive' solutions sought for wild salmon
- Jul 27, 2011 - SOS Blog - Salmon, jobs, ESA defended; bad riders linger
- Jun 03, 2011 - Press Release: House Bill To Restore Science and Common Sense to Federal Salmon Efforts
- May 27, 2011 - Different Situations: Grand Coulee Fish Kill and Columbia/Snake River Salmon Spill
- May 10, 2011 - Moving Beyond The Courtroom, Saving Wild Salmon: "The Job Is Not Done"
- May 09, 2011 - Oregonian: Habitat restoration soars on Columbia River, but fish benefits are murky
- May 09, 2011 - Oregonian: Salmon wars return to Portland courtroom - May 7, 2011
- Apr 05, 2011 - The Osprey, January 2011: "Columbia Basin Salmon & Steelhead at Key Crossroad" by Joseph Bogaard
- Apr 04, 2011 - March 15, 2011: Author Steve Hawley releases new book on Columbia-Snake Basin, "Recovering a Lost River"
- Mar 25, 2011 - Spring Salmon Get Smoother Ride over N.W. Dams
- Jan 26, 2011 - NPR WORD CLOUD: The State Of The Union, In Your Words
- Jan 26, 2011 - NPR WORD CLOUD: The State Of The Union, In Your Words
- Jul 13, 2010 - LA Times: "Scientists expected Obama administration to be friendlier"
- Jul 08, 2010 - Huffington Post - Working Snake River: Saving Salmon--and Jobs, by Waylon Lewis
- Jun 07, 2010 - Let's really talk about taking down those Snake River dams, by Daniel Jack Chasan
- Jun 04, 2010 - Steve Wright: NW power boss for life? - Seattle PI Blog by Joel Connelly
- May 26, 2010 - Salmon or political games? Obama administration makes its choice
- May 21, 2010 - Huffington Post: Feds: No major changes for Columbia Basin salmon
- May 21, 2010 - LA Times - Agencies submit new Columbia River salmon plan
- May 21, 2010 - Pulbic News Service: NW Salmon Battle Doesn't Bode Well for Other Endangered Species
- May 19, 2010 - Blogs getting the word out: Obama to release revised Bush salmon plan - May 19th, 2010
- May 10, 2010 - The Idaho Tide - an essay by Steven Hawley for Patagonia
- Apr 26, 2010 - Crosscut: "Feds vs. fish: crying over spilled water" by Daniel Chasan, April 26th, 2010
- Apr 12, 2010 - Oregonian, Scott Learn - April 12, 2010: Science panel opposes Obama plan for Snake/Columbia salmon
- Feb 12, 2010 - SALMON NEWS: Court tells Obama Administration to Go Back and Get it Right.
- Feb 11, 2010 - New York Times: Judge Finds Salmon Plan Flawed
- Feb 11, 2010 - AP Story: Judge gives NOAA Fisheries last chance on salmon
- Dec 29, 2009 - Something's Fishy - by Keivn Taylor, The Pacific Northwest Inlander
- Dec 27, 2009 - E-mails show internal debate over Obama salmon plan
- Nov 24, 2009 - Oregon Flyfishing Blog: The battle for Columbia Salmon comes to a head in Portland courtroom
- Nov 16, 2009 - Idaho Statesman, November 16, 2009: Redden raises new concern in salmon-dam case
- Nov 02, 2009 - The River Why's David James Duncan on water, salmon and the policies that are killing them
- Oct 12, 2009 - News Stories - Columbia & Snake River Salmon in the Media
- Sep 24, 2009 - Crosscut: Obama science goes schizophrenic on salmon restoration
- Sep 01, 2009 - Judge James Redden: Steelhead God
- Jul 06, 2009 - McClatchy: Les Blumenthal - Puget sound orcas could be helped by California
- Jun 22, 2009 - Has the salmon debate changed? - Idaho Statesman - June 21, 2009
- Jun 11, 2009 - PNW Inlander: Into the Breach
- Jun 03, 2009 - Men's Journal - The Last Stand of the American Salmon
- May 31, 2009 - Crapo: Be open to dam breaching - Idaho Statesman - May 30, 2009
- May 28, 2009 - Caddis Fly Blog: Obama Administration Comes to Portland, Talks Salmon
- May 26, 2009 - Clip of Commercial & Sport Fishing Ad in Oregonian
- May 26, 2009 - Commercial and Sport Fishing Ad in Oregonian
- May 19, 2009 - LA TIMES: Snake River dams may have to go
- May 14, 2009 - LEWISTON TRIBUNE: Spring chinook numbers shrink
- May 05, 2009 - High Country News, May 4th, 2009 - Ken Olsen piece: Salmon Salvation
- May 01, 2009 - AP - Matt Daly, May 1st: Feds seek delay in developing NW salmon plan
- Apr 23, 2009 - Crosscut - Obama: Good news for Columbia River salmon
- Apr 07, 2009 - AP: Lower Snake 3rd most endangered river
- Mar 31, 2009 - Spokesman Review: Snake photos reveal pre-dam glory, March 29, 2009
- Mar 10, 2009 - Idaho Statesman: Rocky Barker's Blog, March 7th: In salmon and dams saga, the hard part begins
- Mar 10, 2009 - Idaho Statesman - March 18th, 2009 - Northwest can reduce greenhouse gases, save salmon and create jobs, report says
- Mar 06, 2009 - New York Times: Dams allies have a change of heart
- Mar 06, 2009 - Salmon recovery plan before U.S. judge
- Mar 06, 2009 - Seattle Times: February 10, 2009 - Columbia salmon plan goes before judge for third try
- Mar 06, 2009 - AP: March 6th, 2009: Federal judge faults plan in NW salmon dispute