Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission
■ River Flow Increased
■ Carcasses Provide Nutrients
■ Elk Benefit from Tribal Management Efforts
■ Searching For Steelhead Families
■ Floods Hurt Chinook Run
■ Windstorm Tests Timber/Fish/Wildlife
Year-Round Rescue Tug Closer To Reality
By Billy Frank Jr.
I’m excited that the cargo ships enter the Strait of Juan de Fuca bound for Puget
state Legislature recently Sound.
earmarked $3.6 million The Gladiator ended its tour of duty March 7, but with the
to station a rescue tug new funding, it will be back on station from July 1 through
year round at Neah Bay. June 30 this year. I just hope we can continue to dodge the
We dodged the oil spill bullet until then.
bullet along our coast this We commend the state Legislature for its effort, but it remains
winter, but there were a short-term solution to the $10,000-per-day price tag for the
more than a few close tug and crew that must be ready to respond around the clock.
calls. Permanent, long-term funding support for the rescue tug is
Take Dec. 3 for what we need.
example: Another near That’s why we’re encouraged by Sen. Maria Cantwell’s efforts
grounding of a cargo ship to draw attention to oil spill prevention along the Washington
off the Washington coast coast. As Sen. Cantwell points out, in 1990, Congress directed
near Neah Bay. the U.S. Coast Guard to place adequate salvage, rescue and
Forty-foot seas powered firefighting vessels in strategic locations around the United
by 90-mph winds knocked States. So far, that hasn’t happened.
out the main steering on the 720-foot Mattson Kauai near the Sen. Cantwell is pushing hard for federal legislation that
entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Waves shattered all of would require the oil shipping industry to fund a rescue tug year
the windows in the ship’s wheelhouse as the vessel wallowed round in Neah Bay. We wholeheartedly support that effort.
offshore. We’ve known for many years that permanently stationing a
Thankfully, the ocean rescue tug Gladiator was on station tug year round in Neah Bay is one of the best steps we can
and able to escort the Kauai to safety. take to protect the people, fish, wildlife, environment and
Close calls like the Kauai don’t make much of a splash in the economies of the Washington coast. We just hope it won’t take
news, and they happen more often than you know. In the past much longer for that to become a reality.
eight years, the part-time rescue tug at Neah Bay has assisted Otherwise, it’s only a matter of time before the law of averages
more than 30 ships in distress. Every year, more than 2,000 catches up with us.
NWIFC News is published quarterly on behalf of the treaty Indian tribes in western Washington by the Northwest Indian Fisheries Com-
mission, 6730 Martin Way E., Olympia, WA 98516. Free subscriptions are available. Articles in NWIFC News may be reprinted. For
more information: NWIFC Information Services in Olympia: 360-438-1180; Mount Vernon: 360-424-8226; Kingston: 360-297-6546;
or Forks: 360-374-5501. Visit the NWIFC Web site at www.nwifc.org.
NWIFC Executive Director: Mike Grayum; Information and Education Services Division Manager: Tony Meyer; Contributing Editor:
Steve Robinson; Regional Information Officers: Debbie Ross Preston, Coast; Emmett O’Connell, South Sound; Tiffany Royal, Hood
Canal/Strait of Juan de Fuca; Kari Neumeyer, North Sound; Editorial Assistant: Sheila McCloud.
NWIFC Member Tribes Nisqually..........................360-456-5221 Skokomish........................360-426-4232
Hoh..............,....................360-374-6582 Nooksack..........................360-592-5176 Squaxin Island..................360-426-9781
Jamestown S’Klallam......360-683-1109 Port Gamble S’Klallam....360-297-2646 Stillaguamish....................360-652-7362
Lower Elwha Klallam......360-452-8471 Puyallup............................253-597-6200 Suquamish........................360-598-3311
Lummi .............................360-384-2210 Quileute ...........................360-374-6163 Swinomish........................360-466-3163
Makah...............................360-645-2205 Quinault ...........................360-276-8211 Tulalip..............................360-651-4000
Muckleshoot.....................253-939-3311 Sauk-Suiattle....................360-436-0132 Upper Skagit.....................360-856-5501
On The Cover: A bull elk pauses while grazing in the Hoh Rain Forest on the Olympic Peninsula. Tribes are protecting and enhancing
elk populations throughout western Washington. See stories on pages 8-9. Photo: D. Preston
Skokomish Mark Return Of North Fork Flow
Above: The new flow of 240 cubic feet per second blasts from Cushman Dam No. 2 into
the North Fork of the Skokomish River. Photo: T. Royal. Left: Skokomish tribal member
Delbert Miller and other tribal members offer a song to mark the event. Photo: T. Meyer
Utilities, a decision by the federal courts will increase and enhance spawning
has required the restoration of flows up habitat for chinook and steelhead and
to 240 cubic feet per second (cfs) into increase egg-to-fry survival of salmon
More than 80 years ago, President the North Fork. Before the construction when emerging from gravel egg nests in
Calvin Coolidge pushed a button that of the dams, the average annual flow was the spring.
energized Cushman Dam No. 1 on the 847 cfs. But the 240 cfs is not enough to help
North Fork of the Skokomish River. The The flow of the Skokomish River main rebuild the lost habitat, said Marty
hydroelectric dam dewatered the North stem, which feeds off the North Fork and Ereth, the tribe’s habitat biologist. A
Fork, wiping out salmon runs upon runs through the tribe’s reservation on varied range of flows would best benefit
which the Skokomish Tribe has always Hood Canal, has been impacted severely the environment. Good salmon habitat
depended. by sediment buildup and flooding. Tribal includes deep pools for resting and
Cushman Dam No. 1 was joined a few treaty-reserved rights to fish, hunt and feeding, and logjams for shade, keeping
years later by Cushman Dam No. 2, built gather have been affected – traditional water temperatures lower.
just downstream. Neither dam allows fishing sites on the river are unusable “It is not all that we hoped for, but this is
fish passage. Together, the two dams because of either too much or too little an important step in the right direction,”
reduced water flows to a trickle, altering water. The lack of water in the North Fork Strong said. – T. Royal
the biology and geology of the river has impacted shellfishing
system, and deeply affecting Skokomish beds at the river’s mouth
tribal culture and treaty-reserved fishing on Hood Canal. The South
rights. On March 7, after decades of Fork has reduced flows,
efforts, tribal member Dave Herrera causing excessive gravel
pressed a button that restored a small part buildup and dry sections
of the North Fork’s historic flow from during salmon spawning
Dam No. 2. season.
“While we are happy to see part of the The increased flow is
river’s flow returned, we will continue expected to widen the North
working to restore a more normal Fork and deepen the pools of
flow regime to the North Fork,” said water that juvenile salmon
Tom Strong, Skokomish deputy tribal and trout rely upon for
manager and tribal council secretary. “It rearing. This is especially
has been a long battle to get water back important for juvenile
to the North Fork.” steelhead and coho, which Skokomish Fish and Wildlife Policy Representative Dave
After decades of struggle between the rear in freshwater for up Herrera pushes the button that increases the amount of
tribe and the dams’ owner, Tacoma Public to two years. Higher flows water flowing into the North Fork. Photo: T. Royal
Tribe Preps for Dam Removal EPA Certifies Tribal
Some of the smallest Watershed Plan
residents of the Elwha River The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe is the
estuary are providing tribal first tribal nation in the country to receive
researchers with valuable federal approval for its watershed plan.
information about the The U.S. Environmental Protection
health of the river system, Agency (EPA) Region 10 recently certified
which has been degraded the tribe’s watershed-based plan, “Protecting
by the presence of two fish- and Restoring the Waters of the Dungeness.”
blocking dams for the past Certification was based on compliance with
90 years. federal tribal nonpoint source program
Matt Beirne, the Lower guidelines.
Elwha Klallam Tribe’s “The tribe has been an active participant
environmental coordinator, in efforts to protect and restore local
has been collecting baseline watersheds for over 20 years,” said Scott
biological data around the Chitwood, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s
river’s mouth since 2006. natural resources director. “Achieving EPA
This information will help certification for the plan allows the tribe to
the tribe prepare for impacts become eligible for badly needed resources
to the estuary following the necessary for implementation.”
removal of two dams, slated The purpose of the plan is to characterize
to begin in 2012. the Dungeness watershed area, highlighting
The 108-foot Elwha Dam the causes and sources of nonpoint source
and 210-foot Glines Canyon Above: Tribal habitat manager Mike McHenry (left) and pollution. This type of pollution is caused
Dam were built to provide hatchery manager Larry Ward pull in a beach seine in by runoff that picks up natural and human-
hydroelectric power to Port one of the Elwha River’s estuary ponds. Below: A juve- made pollutants and deposits them in local
Angeles. Both dams were nile coho is inspected before being released. waterways. The pollutants can include
built without fish ladders, Photos: T. Royal fertilizers from agricultural and residential
preventing salmon from migrating upstream to spawn. Historically, the Elwha River areas and bacteria from livestock, pet waste
produced 100-pound chinook. and faulty septic systems.
Beirne, with tribal staff and interns from Peninsula College, conducted fish seining, The tribe’s planning goals include
insect collection, amphibian egg mass counts and sediment and vegetation sampling protecting and enhancing the tribe’s natural
throughout the estuary. One resources, fisheries and hunting/gathering
element of this study involves opportunities.
collecting the stomach Much of the tribe’s involvement with
contents of juvenile salmon nonpoint source pollution stems from
to determine whether diet the goal to have Dungeness Bay waters
preferences vary from early clean enough for safe shellfish harvest
spring through late summer. and consumption. Several areas within
He’s also contrasting the Dungeness watershed are impaired
differences between diets of by low dissolved oxygen, fecal coliform
the fish in the estuary versus contamination, loss of habitat and the
those living in river’s main presence of heavy metals.
stem. “This plan is an excellent resource since
While a detailed analysis of the data has not yet been completed, Beirne found it presents so much information already
significantly more chinook, chum, coho and steelhead in the estuary ponds in 2006 available but it’s all in this one document,”
than in 2007, attributing the change in population to a November 2006 storm that said Hansi Hals, the tribe’s environmental
washed a large amount of sediment into the eastside estuary and created a barrier to planning manager. “It includes a discussion
fish access. of agriculture, habitat alteration, roads and
The tribe’s work is especially important in light of the large volume of sediment bridges, urbanization, forestry and both
built up behind the dams that will be distributed downstream, including within the wetland and riparian management.”
estuary, following their removal. The next step is to develop actions to
“We’re getting a good handle on some baseline information regarding the physical, protect functioning habitat in the watershed
chemical, and biological conditions within the estuary prior to the removal of the and clean up nonpoint sources of pollution.
dams, before we start seeing influences from the sediment,” Beirne said. – T. Royal
– T. Royal
Salmon carcasses: Left: Lower Elwha hatchery
technician Gary Johnson secures
salmon carcasses in a side channel
of the Elwha River. Below: Lower
Elwha hatchery technician Phillip
Blackcrow prepares “purses” of fish
for planting in the river.
Photos: T. Royal
Helping restore the Elwha River
Perched on the tailgate of an old young salmon, trout and other wildlife.
delivery truck in January, Mike McHenry They added nutrients to the river that
channeled the spirit of Santa Claus, as are necessary for plant growth. Today,
the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe habitat salmon can’t get past the lower dam. The
program manager handed out generous populations above the dams are long gone
amounts of frozen coho carcasses to the and greatly depleted below the dams.
tribe’s habitat restoration crew. As part of the Elwha River habitat
But these presents were intended for restoration plan, tribal staff placed more
the Elwha River, not the crew. Industrial- than 600 frozen spawned-out coho in
strength green mesh bags were filled the river’s side channels. The carcasses
with two carcasses each and then staked came from the 2006 and 2007 returns to
into streambeds above one of the river’s the tribe’s hatchery.
two fish-blocking dams. The bags will be “Fish haven’t been able to get up past
removed after the fish decompose. the lower dam for 95 years, depleting
Before construction of the dams in the the ecosystem of an important piece of
early 1900s, salmon carcasses naturally the food chain,” McHenry said. “All the
played a major role in the ecosystem’s elements are here that are important to
food web. They provided food for the Elwha system – except the salmon.”
– T. Royal
This is the site of a Suquamish tribal
village at Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge
Island. Tribal members had harvested
salmon and were drying them outside.
The picture was taken sometime
Photo: Webster and Stevens,
Courtesy of The Suquamish Museum
Geoduck Shells Show
Water Quality History
Deep in the mud of Hood Canal lives Researchers from the
a creature that carries decades of crucial University of Washington
water quality history. The geoduck, with determined the approximate
a lifespan of more than 160 years, may age of the clams collected
be the definitive record-keeper of the by WDFW by counting the
canal’s oxygen levels, water quality and growth rings of the shells.
changes over time. Gao analyzed the shell
Teasing that information from the samples for oxygen and
largest burrowing clam in the world has carbon isotopes and other
never been tried – until now. Yongwen water quality indicators, then
Gao, a researcher for the Makah Tribe compared that information
with a doctorate in fisheries and ocean with data collected by DOE.
sciences, is using a technique known “The chemical variations in
to only a handful of scientists on the the shells corresponded with
West Coast to extract the water quality the dissolved oxygen levels
information. found by DOE monitoring,”
Previously, Gao has used a similar Gao said.
biochemical analysis technique to gather That’s important because
information about salmon, halibut, black it validates the method Above: Yongwen Gao, a Makah Tribe researcher, studies
cod and other species important to the for further use in probing a geoduck shell sample. Below: Samples of geoduck
Makah Tribe. By analyzing ratios of information that the shells shells are prepared for analysis. Photos: D. Preston
carbon and oxygen isotopes found in the may hold – especially
fish’s ear bone, Gao is able to determine changes in nutrient levels over 160 “We hope it will continue in the future
what the fish has been eating, migration years. as it ties in well with other collaborative
patterns and the distribution of age High nutrient levels are the main cause research that’s being done in Hood Canal
classes within a particular stock. of low oxygen in the canal today. Many and Puget Sound.”
A geoduck’s shell can provide similar thousands of fish have been killed by “We are all in this together as co-
information and more, using the same algae blooms that rob oxygen from managers when it comes to understanding
technique. As part of a cooperative the water. The blooms are fueled by the health of our marine resources,”
project with the Washington departments increased nutrient levels from fertilizers said Russell Svec, Makah fisheries
of Natural Resources (DNR) and Fish and leaking septic systems. By analyzing program manager. “We think it’s great
and Wildlife (WDFW), geoduck shells organic carbon and sulfur in shells, it is that Yongwen is expanding the use of
were collected from three sites in Hood possible to find the nutrient level changes his research with other government
Canal that have been closely monitored through the geoduck’s long life history. agencies.
by the Department of Ecology (DOE) for To gain that
the past 16 years. information
and see ‘This shell work is really groundbreaking.
further into It’s never been done before.’
the past, Gao – Todd Palzer,
will need to
program operations manager,
more shells. Washington Department of Natural Resources
is being considered by the Washington “Given the dramatic fluctuations in fish
State Legislature. species and fish composition relative to
“This shell work is really ocean environmental change, the Makah
groundbreaking,” said Todd Palzer, Tribe believes that Yongwen’s research
DNR program operations manager. “It’s is going to be vital to gaining a better
never been done before. This helps us tie understanding of the effects marine
together the health of North, Central and environments have on our commercially
southern Hood Canal. valuable resources.” – D. Preston
Coast Salish Gathering
Tribal Leaders Meet to Discuss Salmon Needs
At the third annual Coast right now if we are to have any
Salish Gathering in February, hope for a healthy environment
tribal leaders from western in the future.”
Washington and British Representatives at the
Columbia were committed to gathering agreed that tribes
taking environmental action. must receive more funding to
These include developing a deal with climate change.
regional information sharing State and federal guests at
database and a water quality the gathering acknowledged
data gathering project. that the tribes’ historical
The leaders created a knowledge of the region offers
Coast Salish Gathering the only opportunity to gain
Environmental Action Plan, comprehensive data regarding
which also calls for tribal climate change.
consultation on fish farming. “Without our traditional
Tribes are concerned about Swinomish tribal Sen. Chester Cayou Sr. (left) and Billy Frank Jr. knowledge, nobody truly
sea lice on farmed salmon that confer at the Coast Salish Gathering. Photo: K. Neumeyer has the ability to compare the
infect wild fish, threatening status of fish and wildlife habitat today with its condition
their survival. The tribes pledged to continue working toward before the white man came,” said Terry Williams of the Tulalip
the replenishment of natural runs. Tribes.
“We’re on a journey here that has no end,” said Billy Frank “These are tribal resources being destroyed,” he said. “We
Jr., chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. have got to have the ability to help clean up the mess, even
“We’re the only ones who are willing to do it. Action is needed though the tribes didn’t create it.”
– S. Robinson
Tribes Blend Canoe Tradition with Science
During this summer’s Watershed Council, which piloted this method of data-
annual Canoe Journey, gathering.
Northwest tribes plan to The research will contribute to a larger information-
blend modern science sharing network among all the Coast Salish tribes in western
with traditional ways, by Washington and British Columbia. Many of these tribes came
collecting water quality together in February for the third Coast Salish Gathering, and
data from their canoes. many participate in the annual Canoe Journey, which this year
The U.S. Geological will culminate in Cowichan, British Columbia. Half a dozen
Survey (USGS) is canoes traveling each of the five or six main routes in the
assisting with the journey will be outfitted with a probe. – K. Neumeyer
technology, which was
first used with canoes
last year on the Yukon
River. As paddlers make
their journey, a 15-pound
probe about 2 feet long is
towed behind the canoe.
The probe samples the
water at set intervals to
measure temperature, dissolved oxygen, salinity and nutrients.
“No one has ever taken basic water quality measurements
simultaneously from different points throughout the Coast
Salish region,” said Brian Cladoosby, chairman of the
Swinomish Tribe. “The best way to collect it is from the back
of a canoe, because the data is so sensitive.”
If taken from a motorboat, the readings would be tainted by
the exhaust and propeller turbulence. Above: Eric Grossman of the USGS (left), and Bryan Maracle of
“I love that native people are the first to use this technology,” the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council (center), show
said Jon Waterhouse, who is part of the Coast Salish tribal tribal members how to use a water quality probe. Left: A canoe
community and director of the Yukon River Inter-Tribal tries out the equipment. Photos: K. Neumeyer
Elk Benefit From Tribal Managem
Muckleshoot Tribe Supports Elk Nutrition Needs
The Muckleshoot Indian Tribe has having a hard time even moving around,” four straight weeks. Contributions from
established a temporary feeding program Anderson said. Near Huckleberry Creek, the Upper Skagit, Swinomish and Tulalip
for the White River elk herd, to prevent the snow is more than 3 feet deep. tribes, as well as Hancock Timber, which
mass starvation caused by inability to The project involves hauling 66 tons of manages much of the property where
find food following this year’s record- alfalfa to more than a dozen remote sites most of the elk live, have offset the food
breaking snowfall. throughout the upper White River for bill.
“We know that elk are having a The Muckleshoot Tribe has also
hard time this winter,” said Dennis closed ceremonial hunting on the
Anderson Sr., chairman of the herd and asked that all tribes do the
tribe’s Wildlife Committee. “The same. “We only took a few male
point of this feeding operation is elk each winter, for memorials and
to help the elk herds survive until funerals,” Anderson said. “But we
the snow melts.” recognize that even that would be
“This herd is already in too much this year.”
trouble. One hard winter can do The tribe will conduct a
a lot of damage to a small herd,” population survey in the spring to
Anderson said. The size of the estimate the herd size. “Hopefully,
White River elk herd has declined we will find that fewer elk died
in recent years from 1,700 to 550 than would have otherwise,”
animals due to many factors, Anderson said.
including loss of habitat. Last “Having healthy elk herds is a
spring, the herd rebounded to top priority for the Muckleshoot
about 700 elk, but that is still well Tribe, because we have always
below the population objective of depended on the health of our
around 1,000 elk. natural resources,” Anderson said.
“These elk are not only having a Above: Tony Benson, wildlife program field monitor for the “We are happy that so many have
hard time finding food, the snow is Muckleshoot Tribe, unloads an alfalfa bale during the tribe’s joined us to protect the health of
so deep in some spots that they’re recent elk feeding effort. Top: Elk feed on alfalfa. this herd.” – E. O’Connell
Photos: Dave Vales, Muckleshoot Indian Tribe
Skokomish Tribe Uses
Paintballs to Count Elk
Sitting in a helicopter, high above the forest between
Lake Quinault and southern Hood Canal, paint gun in
hand, Bethany Tropp keeps her eyes peeled for Roosevelt
elk. As a small herd appears, the Skokomish Tribe wildlife
biologist takes aim for an elk’s rump.
“The paintballs don’t hurt the elk. They have thick skin
and a lot of fur,” Tropp said. “We use the same kind of
equipment used in recreational paintball.”
Tropp is marking the elk to gauge herd size and identify
foraging areas. The last survey done by the tribe in 1995
estimated there were 258 elk in the 415-square-mile Game
Management Unit 636 on the southern Olympic Peninsula.
The herd was estimated at a peak of 550 in 1980.
Preserving the population is key to supporting the
tribe’s treaty-reserved right to hunt elk, which contribute
to the tribe’s subsistence and ceremonial needs. Elk are a
traditional food and a good source of protein. Elk are also
integral to tribal ceremonies and regalia.
Following the survey, the tribe’s goal will be to provide
the herd with the proper environment to survive and grow. A group of Roosevelt elk are spotted at the top of Lake Cushman during
“Good elk habitat includes both forest for cover and open an elk population study in March. Photo: T. Royal
space for foraging,” Tropp said. “In this area, some parts
of the replanted timberlands are too thick for elk and the nearest open areas
are residential farmlands. We want to work with local timber owners and
Puyallups Enhance Elk Habitat
the U.S. Forest Service on improving habitat. We’re also planning forage Elk near Mount Rainier will have more food next
enhancement projects for this summer.” – T. Royal winter, thanks to forest thinning last fall by the
Puyallup Tribe of Indians. The tribe, working with
the U.S. Forest Service, selectively thinned more
than 300 acres of winter elk habitat.
New Home for Acme Elk “The work will give plants that elk like to eat
more room to grow,” said Barbara Moeller, the
tribe’s wildlife biologist. “Modern forestry and
fire prevention techniques have encouraged a
more uniform forest, so these clearings have to be
Elderberry and huckleberry are some of elk’s
favorite foods. “With a full growing season ahead of
us, the clearings should be ready for elk next winter,”
Moeller said. “The more sunlight that hits the forest
floor, the more undergrowth there is and the more
food for elk during the winter.”
Development has encroached on the elk’s
traditional feeding grounds. Portions of the 1,000-
head herd migrate in summer to surrounding alpine
meadows from the winter range along the Cowlitz
Elk arrive in their new home in the North Cascade Mountains. North Sound The tribe has been studying the local elk herd for
tribes and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) relocated more than five years, using radio collars to track the
five female elk in March from the Acme area in Whatcom County, where elk travels throughout the year. “Because we collect
the animals were known to disturb crops.The relocation is meant to reduce this data on such a regular basis, we have a pretty
agricultural damage while augmenting a herd in the Caskey Lake region with good idea how these elk move through their habitat
a low population. Photo: Scott Schuyler, Upper Skagit Tribe during the seasons,” Moeller said. – E. O’Connell
Blowdown Tests Timber/Fish/Wildlife
individual site visits because the wind
treated each area differently.”
Roughly 600-800 million board feet of
lumber may be salvaged from the blow-
down in the next 16 months. That’s about
20 percent of the annual timber harvest
for Washington state. Two-thirds of the
salvage will be on private timber lands.
Under normal conditions, a buffer of
trees is left along fish-bearing streams.
Timber harvest is rarely allowed close
to the stream, but because the storm flat-
tened many of these areas, TFW partners
are deciding where and how much can
be salvaged. Downed timber provides
important habitat near streams.
“Trees that fall into the stream create
Joel Green (left), TFW biologist for the Quinault Indian Nation, and representatives from
state and federal agencies survey blowdown damage in Grays Harbor. Photo: D. Preston pools and backwater areas for fish to rest
and hide, and trees that fall on the forest
Timberlands about half the size of sentatives and the timber industry aim floor provide habitat for amphibians and
Washington, D.C., were flattened by the to protect fish and wildlife habitat while small mammals,” said Joel Green, TFW
early December storm that packed winds providing for the economic health of the fisheries biologist for QIN. “Downed
of more than 147 mph along the south- timber industry. trees also help prevent bank erosion, and
western coast of the state. “We didn’t want to make some sort of provide nutrients for the forest floor and
The estimated 17,000 acres of blown blanket exception to go in and harvest it the nearby stream as they decay.”
down timber on state and private tim- all just because it was such an unusual Also being discussed is whether to allow
berlands will rigorously test the forest event,” said Mark Mobbs, manager of the more salvage to make it easier to plant
practice regulations developed within the Department of Environmental Protection new trees. “We have to balance the long-
Timber/Fish/Wildlife (TFW) program. for the Quinault Indian Nation (QIN). term benefits of planting the new trees
Through TFW and its evolution – the “We’re using the process outlined in versus the importance of the downed tim-
1999 Forests and Fish Report – state, the forest practice regulations,” Mobbs ber already there,” Green said.
federal, tribal and environmental repre- added. “We will have to make a lot of – D. Preston
Hoh River: Needs of Fish and People Must be Balanced
Before 1970, the Hoh River flooded tant to fish. In addition, it prevents a river “The problem with the ‘cheaper, quick-
once or twice every 10 years. But since from creating logjams, which are impor- er’ fix is that it removes prime spawning
then, the river has flooded five or six tant to fish habitat. and rearing habitat, and ultimately, only
times a decade. To protect roads and Over time, miles of riprap in the Hoh deflects the river’s energy to another
property from these floods, tons of large River have created a straight river chan- area,” said Tyler Jurasin, fisheries man-
rock, called riprap, have been used to ar- nel devoid of the natural bends, eddies ager and biologist for the Hoh Tribe.
mor the river bank. and holes that help control flooding Riprap puts a straitjacket on the river
These emergency fixes have seriously while providing places for salmon and channel, eliminating the creation of
degraded fish habitat in the Hoh River. bull trout to rest, feed and spawn. side-channel habitat and consistent wa-
“We understand that resources ter flow, Jurasin said. The twin
Riprap on the Hoh River has eliminated spawning grounds
have to be protected, but it’s time and side-channel salmon habitat. Photo: D. Preston pressures of increased flooding
to move toward more natural solu- and decreased spawning and
tions that pose less harm to salmon rearing habitat could easily put
and trout,” said Vivian Lee, Hoh fish populations on the Hoh in
tribal chairwoman. “Ultimately, decline.
we would like to look for ways The Hoh tribal center and some
to move as many of the people, tribal housing will need to be
buildings and roads out of the riv- moved out of the flood plain
er’s floodplain.” within the next 30 years. A chan-
Riprap speeds the river’s flow, nel migration study shows that
eliminating resting pools impor- the river will slice right through
the lower reservation by then.
0 – D. Preston
Before and After
The Skagit River System Cooperative (SRSC) is taking
a before-and-after look at changes to stream habitat fol-
lowing the removal of two fish-blocking culverts from a
tributary to the Skagit River.
SRSC field biologist Mike Olis and watershed scientist
Jeff Phillips are closely monitoring the two sites where
the undersized culverts will be removed, in the east and
west forks of Hooper Creek, near Concrete. They are
measuring channel topography, habitat quantity and
quality, and fish distribution before the removal later this
year. After the removal, they will return to monitor the
changes to the habitat.
The culvert removal is expected to provide passage for
resident trout, and possibly anadromous fish. However,
the removal also will release a large amount of sediment
that has accumulated over the years above one of the cul-
verts, and the SRSC is investigating the potential impact
SRSC field biologist Mike Olis (left) and Fine sediments can smother redds (fish nests) by blocking the flow of oxygenated
watershed scientist Jeff Phillips measure water to the eggs. Fine sediments also can prevent fry from emerging from their gravel
pebbles above a culvert that is set to be nests. Conversely, there’s the possibility that larger gravel will move downstream and
removed from Hooper Creek near Con- improve spawning habitat.
crete. The data will help them observe The long-term benefits of removing fish-passage barriers outweigh any potential
changes to the habitat following the re-
short-term effects on the habitat. SRSC’s research will examine how much sediment
moval of two fish-blocking culverts.
Photo: K. Neumeyer moves through the channel and how long it takes for the sediment to settle, in addition
to documenting changes to fish habitat and distribution. – K. Neumeyer
Stillaguamish, Tulalip Tribes Seek to Preserve Port Susan
Stillaguamish fisheries biologists Jason Griffith The Stillaguamish and Tulalip tribes many marine species have declined be-
(left) and Jody Brown look for wild chinook in are working toward the designation of cause of habitat loss and pollution from
Port Susan Bay. The Stillaguamish and Tulalip Port Susan Bay as a Marine Stewardship the ever-increasing human population.
tribes hope to have the bay designated a Ma-
Area – a crucial first step in restoring Designating the bay as a Marine Stew-
rine Stewardship Area. Photo: K. Neumeyer
and conserving the 41-square-mile bay. ardship Area will help reverse these
The tribes are partnering with the declines and promote sustainable use of
Snohomish and Island county marine living marine resources.
resources committees, The Nature “Our tribal culture depends on healthy
Conservancy and the Northwest Straits ecosystems to support the resources we
Commission. The Stillaguamish Tribe harvest,” said Tulalip Chairman Mel
received a $10,000 grant from the state Sheldon. “A Port Susan Marine Stew-
Salmon Recovery Funding Board’s ardship Area will be a vehicle by which
Community Fund for the effort. we can work with local citizens to main-
“It is our duty to restore and maintain tain these resources for all of us.”
this ecosystem for future generations,” Port Susan Bay is bounded by Camano
said Stillaguamish Chairman Shawn Island and mainland Snohomish Coun-
Yanity. “This is an opportunity to raise ty. The bay’s rich estuaries provide food
awareness of existing regulations and and shelter for species such as Puget
demonstrate responsible stewardship to Sound chinook salmon and steelhead
everyone connected to the bay.” – both listed as “threatened” on the fed-
Historically, tribes fished and clammed eral Endangered Species Act List.
in Port Susan, but the populations of – K. Neumeyer
Researcher Focuses on
Tribe’s Tatoosh Island
Ocean researcher Robert Payne has been studying
the Makah Tribe’s Tatoosh Island for more than four
He’s seen oil spills threaten the fragile ecosystem of
the island at the mouth of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
“Oil kills life in the intertidal zone and it’s just re-
ally toxic when it comes to seabirds such as murres,”
Tatoosh Island, on the Makah Reservation, is home to
the largest breeding marine colony of common murres
Marine Spill Response Corp. employees demonstrate an oil boom to
Quinault Indian Nation tribal members and employees. Photo: D. Preston in the continental United States. Hundreds of the birds
died in 1972 when the General M.C. Meiggs dumped
Coastal Tribes Train for 23 million gallons of oil along the coast and the Strait
of Juan de Fuca.
Early Oil Spill Response In 1991, the Te-
nyo Maru spill
Action in the first hours after an oil spill is critical to protect the most
sensitive areas of shoreline on the Olympic coast. than 100,000 gal-
That’s why coastal tribes, in partnership with the state and federal lons of oil near
government, and private industry, train personnel as first responders Tatoosh. “There
to spills. was this terrible
“There is a lot of ship traffic out there,” said Justine James, Tim- sheen on the bull
ber/Fish/Wildlife biologist for the Quinault Indian Nation (QIN). “We kelp, and many
have 26 miles of rugged coastline and many cultural resources such as more murres died.
razor clams that could be impacted if a spill does occur.” It’s pervasive,”
James completed the 24-hour Hazardous Waste Operations and Emer- Payne said.
gency Response Standard (HAZWOPER) training with 11 other QIN A groundbreak-
staff and community members ing researcher,
in February. “They tell us it’s Payne coined the
‘It’s in our best interest widely used term
to have as many trained going to be 12 to 16 hours be-
fore any of the other trained “keystone spe-
local responders as responders and equipment can cies,” to refer to Robert Payne tries on a hat given to
possible.’ get out here, so it’s in our best an organism that him by the Makah Tribe. Payne has
spent 40 years studying the inter-
– Justine James, interest to have as many trained plays a greater tidal life around the tribe’s Tatoosh
Timber/Fish/Wildlife biologist, local responders as possible.” role in the func- Island. Photo: D. Preston
Quinault Indian Nation Tribal members from the Hoh, tion of an ecosys-
Makah and Quileute tribes also tem than would
completed the course earlier in be predicted by its population.
the year. Each tribe has a first-response oil spill equipment trailer pro- The keystone species hierarchy has been found
vided by the Department of Ecology. throughout ocean and freshwater communities and aids
“The local folks with this training are ready to go and don’t have to scientific understanding about what happens when top
mobilize from outside the area,” said Scott Knutson, engineer for the predators are removed in any natural system.
U.S. Coast Guard District Response Advisory Team. “Disturbance isn’t all bad,” Payne said. “For instance,
Washington, Idaho and Oregon are all part of the Northwest Area the wave energy on Tatoosh is astounding and can re-
Contingency Plan, which lays out a coordinated response to oil spills. order whole intertidal communities by wiping rocks
A successful model of coordinated local oil spill response and training clean.”
is found in the San Juan Islands. Payne said he is grateful for the hospitality of the
“There, you had a group of people who wanted to protect the San Juan Makah Tribe, which allowed him to spend the last 40-
Islands and they knew that to reduce the damage from oil spills, they plus years studying the island’s intertidal life.
needed to have trained responders who lived there,” said Knutson. “It all started with a handshake more than 40 years
From a loose collection of volunteers, the Islands’ Oil Spill Associa- ago,” Payne said. “It’s been a wonderful relation-
tion has grown to 354 members. The group can be contracted to handle ship.”
a variety of spill tasks including early assessment, containment and – D. Preston
treatment of oiled birds. – D. Preston
Puyallup Tribe Opens Wetland Habitat
Most of that habitat was lost when the river was diked and
filled to create farmland, and later, an urban port and the
Tacoma city dump. To restore off-channel habitat, dirt was
removed from the site until the remaining soil tested clean.
“We actually increased the overall environmental quality
of the region by taking dirt and material from what was an
unlined landfill to a modern, lined landfill that will prevent
toxics from seeping,” said Bruce McDonald, the port’s proj-
Called the Gog-le-hi-te wetland – which means “where
the land and waters meet” – the off-channel restoration was
completed as mitigation for the construction of a new port
facility. A similar restoration project nearby was completed
more than 20 years ago and opened 11 acres to salmon.
Bill Sullivan, natural resources director for the Puyallup Tribe, observes During the past century, the lower Puyallup River was
new habitat in the Gog-le-hi-te wetland. Photo: E. O’Connell straightened from its original path. Dikes keep the river
from meandering, creating an almost entirely straight river
Salmon making their way down the Puyallup River to Puget for miles.
Sound will have a new place to rest and feed this spring. The Port While these changes were good for urban development,
of Tacoma and the Puyallup Tribe of Indians recently completed a they weren’t for salmon. “Fish need bends in the river and
restoration project on the lower Puyallup River, opening 8 acres of off-channel areas to rest and feed,” said Russ Ladley, re-
off-channel habitat to salmon. source protection manager for the tribe. Puyallup River chi-
“Historically, the Puyallup River had hundreds of these little nook, steelhead and bull trout are listed as “threatened” un-
spots where juvenile salmon could stop, rest and feed,” said Bill der the federal Endangered Species Act. – E. O’Connell
Sullivan, natural resources director for the Puyallup Tribe.
Floods, Lack of Habitat Hurt Puyallup River Chinook
Fewer juvenile wild chinook migrated
Andrew Berger, a biologist with the from the Puyallup River last year, likely ‘There are only a few
Puyallup Tribe, checks for migrating ju- places where chinook can
venile salmon in the tribe’s smolt trap.
because winter floods washed away chi-
Photo: E. O’Connell nook redds – or nests – before the fish had spawn throughout the
a chance to emerge from the gravel. Puyallup watershed.’
The Puyallup Tribe counts outgoing chi- – Russ Ladley,
nook with a smolt trap in the lower Puy- resource protection manager,
allup River, to estimate the productivity
of the entire watershed. A smolt trap is a
safe and effective way to capture and count
juvenile salmon. Smolt refers to the term South Prairie Creek near Orting and the
“smoltification,” a physiological process upper Puyallup River watershed near Mount
juvenile salmon undergo that allows them Rainier are the two remaining strongholds
to migrate from fresh to salt water. for chinook spawning in the watershed.
According to recently analyzed data, few- Low numbers of migrating juvenile chi-
er than 10,000 wild chinook left the Puyal- nook this year will mean even fewer adult
lup watershed last year, down from a peak chinook returning three and four years from
of 60,000 fish in 2005. now, leading to restricted fisheries.
“There are only a few places where chi- “Chinook fisheries on the Puyallup, even
nook can spawn throughout the Puyallup fisheries on abundant hatchery stocks, are
watershed, so one flood can do terrible driven by the number of wild chinook re-
damage to an entire run,” said Russ Ladley, turning in a particular year,” Ladley said.
resource protection manager for the Puy- “In the past few years, the tribe has worked
allup Tribe of Indians. “Development and with partners throughout the watershed
urbanization have changed the watershed to restore habitat for juvenile salmon, but
so much that even minor flooding can do those projects have only covered a fraction
incredible damage to young fish.” of the entire watershed.” – E. O’Connell
Acts on Anglers’ Tip
Responding to a tip, Nooksack tribal enforcement officers in Febru-
ary removed several sections of old fishing nets from the Nooksack
River between Highway 9 and Nugent’s Corner.
The pieces of net were unmarked, so tribal enforcement couldn’t tell
whose they were, but the gear didn’t look like it had been there long.
“Sometimes, nets are set by non-tribal poachers, who check them at
night, and assume everyone will think it’s tribal gear,” said Nooksack
Police Chief Jim Fernando.
Most lost gear is
discovered and re-
‘We established a relationship,
moved during the
which I believe will be mutually spring and early
beneficial in the future.’ summer, when the
– Ed Megill, river levels are low-
sport fisherman er. Pieces of net can
entangle fish, birds
and other wildlife,
and pose safety hazards to boaters.
Sport fishermen Jason Cross and Ed Megill had been trying for two
months to get the nets removed, before they connected with the Nook-
sack Tribe. They had contacted “just about every entity you can think
of,” Megill said.
The pair met with Nooksack tribal enforcement and provided Global
Positioning System (GPS) coordinates for some of the net pieces. The
next day, Nooksack enforcement officers recovered the net sections.
Assisting Nooksack tribal enforcement, Jerry Fernando
“We established a relationship, which I believe will be mutually ben- (Upper Skagit) untangles a piece of fishing net from a tree.
eficial in the future,” Megill said. Nooksack tribal enforcement officers Photo: K. Neumeyer
can be reached at 360-592-9065. – K. Neumeyer
Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe Studies Shellfish Toxins
The waters of Sequim Bay seem clean, even death. “We want to better under- increasing in recent years,” Erickson
with visibility for several feet within the stand how frequently these toxins are said. “It has been suggested that increas-
nearshore. But biotoxins lurk within the showing up in the water and develop an es in nutrient loads in marine waters and
waters, plaguing the Strait of Juan de early warning system for the presence of changes in water temperature and circu-
Fuca each summer and fall. these toxin-producing algae blooms,” said lation are possible causes.”
The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe is con- Aleta Erickson, Jamestown S’Klallam Shellfish closures in Sequim Bay have
cerned about these naturally occurring Tribe’s marine ecologist. hit the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe hard
toxins that show up regularly in shellfish Using a special microscope, tribal staff both financially and culturally because
tissues following algae blooms. The tox- is identifying and photographing the or- much of the intertidal acreage at the head
ins don’t harm shellfish, but if consumed ganisms that could be contributing to of the bay is owned by the tribe. Clams
by humans, they can lead to illness or the problem. The tribe also is studying and other bivalves there are actively
weather patterns and excess nutri- managed and harvested for commercial
ents, such as lawn fertilizers, to see and subsistence use.
if they contribute to the problem. Last year was the fourth year the tribe
“The frequency of shellfish clo- has conducted the research, a partner-
sures due to high tissue levels of ship with the National Oceanic and At-
the poisons saxitoxin and domoic mospheric Administration’s Northwest
acid, which are produced by dino- Fishery Science Center.
flagellates and diatoms, have been – T. Royal
Akashiwo sanguinea is a naturally occurring algae that has been found to form
massive algae blooms in local waterways, especially in shallow estuaries from late
summer to early fall. Photo: Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe
Searching for Steelhead Family Tree
Staff from the Puyallup Tribe and state Department of Fish and Wildlife look for young steelhead on South Prairie Creek. Clockwise from
top left: Andrew Berger, Russ Ladley and Terry Sebastian, all with the Puyallup Tribe, and Mike Scharpf, WDFW. Photo: E. O’Connell
The Puyallup Tribe of Indians is col- returned to the creek. The tribe will com- protect these fish,” Ladley said.
lecting DNA from South Prairie Creek pare the DNA from South Prairie fish to If the South Prairie fish are genetically
steelhead to find out to whom they are samples taken from adult steelhead on unique, the tribe could consider a new
related. the nearby White River as well as juve- broodstock program.
“Steelhead evolve to survive in specific nile steelhead from the main stem Puy- Ten years ago, more than 1,700 steel-
creeks and rivers,” said Russ Ladley, re- allup River. South Prairie Creek and the head were seen throughout the Puyallup
source protection manager for the Puyal- White River are both tributaries to the watershed. That number dropped to just
lup Tribe. “So we can tell, by analyzing Puyallup. over 1,000 in 2001 and then to fewer
their DNA, how closely related they are The Puyallup Tribe, along with the than 300 in 2007.
to other stocks of fish that have adapted Muckleshoot Tribe and WDFW, recently “If steelhead native to the Puyallup
to survive in other rivers.” began a steelhead broodstock program River watershed can’t thrive in the wild,
Tribal and state Department of Fish and for White River steelhead. Broodstocking the only option is to raise some of them
Wildlife (WDFW) staffers are walking programs remove adult fish from the wild in a hatchery to ensure their survival and
the creek with an electro-shocker that and rear their offspring in a hatchery, in make sure their genetic traits aren’t lost,”
temporarily stuns young steelhead. A hopes that more salmon will return. “By said Blake Smith, Puyallup enhancement
tissue sample is collected for genetic in- knowing how closely related each stock manager.
formation and the young fish are quickly is, we can find out what steps to take to – E. O’Connell
Misdemeanor Charges Dropped in Unauthorized Whale Hunt
Several federal misdemeanor charges were dropped against The men also face charges in tribal court, including violating
five Makah men facing charges of illegally hunting a gray the tribe’s gray whale management plan and reckless endanger-
whale in September 2007. Charges of violating the Whaling ment for firing a rifle over water.
Convention Act were dismissed. If convicted in tribal court, the five could have their treaty
Remaining are charges of violating the Marine Mammal Pro- rights suspended, be fined up to $5,000 and spend up to a year
tection Act and conspiracy to break that law. The five will ap- in the Neah Bay jail.
pear in federal court to face the reduced charges. – D. Preston
Coastal tribes, along with some tribes in Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan
de Fuca, participated in the first halibut fishery of the season in March. (Above)
Makah fisherman Bruce Gonzales (left) and Ken Ward pack floats in prepara-
tion for the 50-mile trip to the fishing grounds. Below left: Hazel Secor (left)
Makah fisheries data manager, and Zac Espinoza, fisheries technician, sample
halibut ear bones to learn more about the population. Below right: A Makah
tribal fisherman’s catch is unloaded at the Neah Bay dock. Photos: D. Preston