naTural resourCes m anagemenT
a n a nnual r eporT from The
TreaTy indian Tribes in WesTern WashingTon
Map: Ron McFarlane. On the cover: Greg Lehman, Squaxin
Island Tribe, pauses from drumming during the 2009 Tribal
Canoe Journey: Paddle to Suquamish. Photo: Tony Meyer
Table of Contents
Introduction, Core Program.............................................1 ♦ Puget Sound Partnership.....................................................6
Year in Review...................................................................2 ♦ Ocean Ecosystem Initiative..................................................7
Salmon Management.....................................................3 ♦ Coordinated Tribal Water Resources..................................8
♦ Harvest Management...........................................................3 ♦ Timber/Fish/Wildlife.........................................................9
♦ Hatchery Management.........................................................4 Wildlife Management.....................................................10
♦ Habitat Management............................................................5 Shellfish Management...........................................11
W e are the treaty Indian tribes in western
Washington. We are salmon people.
We have lived here for thousands of years.
support harvest. We are not interested in
preserving salmon runs as museum pieces.
Western Washington’s ecosystem is under
We depend on the natural resources of the constant attack by threats such as population
Pacific Northwest to sustain our way of life. growth, water withdrawals and stormwater
For more than 150 years, we have fought runoff. We know that by working together,
countless battles to protect the salmon and these challenges can be met. We believe in
the fishing rights that we reserved in treaties cooperation and seek consensus-based solu-
with the United States. We are natural re- tions. We are guided by the belief that we
sources co-managers with the state of Wash- must act in the best interests of generations
ington and leaders in salmon recovery. For us, to come.
the fight to save the salmon continues where Because of our treaty rights, and because
we live – every day in every watershed. all natural resources are connected, the treaty
Salmon in western Washington continue Indian tribes in western Washington are
to disappear despite massive harvest reduc- engaged in every aspect of natural resources
tions and an overhaul of hatchery practices. management. This report outlines tribal
Salmon are at a tipping point because neither natural resources management activities
hatcheries nor harvest restrictions can com- assisted by the Northwest Indian Fisheries
pensate for the ongoing destruction of salmon Commission for Fiscal Year 2009. More
spawning and rearing habitat. information is available at nwifc.org, including
We have one goal and one standard for links to Web sites of member tribes.
A male and female coho hover over a redd in Taft salmon recovery: Return all wild salmon pop- – Billy Frank Jr., NWIFC chairman
Creek, a tributary to the Hoh River. ulations to sustainable levels that can again
Timber/Fish/Wildlife Endangered Ocean Ecosystem Puget Sound
Forests & Fish Report Species Act Initiative Partnership
Tribal Natural Resources Management Core Program
Fish, Shellfish and Wildlife Harvest Fisherman and Vessel Identification
Natural Resources Enforcement
Harvest Monitoring/Data Collection
Salmon Recovery Planning
Population Monitoring and Research
Water Resource Protection and
Habitat Protection and Restoration Assessment
Policy Development and Forest Land Management
Coordinated Tribal Other State and Local Watershed Recovery
Pacific Salmon Treaty Mass Marking
Water Resources Collaborative Programs Planning
Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission Annual Report 2010 1
Billy Frank Jr., chairman of the NWIFC, addresses tribal leaders meeting with Assistant
year in revieW Secretary-Indian Affairs Larry EchoHawk (right) in July.
A major concern in 2009 was the state At the national level, the tribes saw sig- Puget Sound chinook are achieved. The
government’s refusal to honor its respon- nificant recognition of their rights and the intention of the plan is to enable harvest
sibility to protect salmon habitat and tribal federal government’s trust responsibil- of strong, productive stocks of chinook
treaty-reserved fishing rights by fixing ity with the election of President Barack and other salmon species, and to minimize
fish-blocking culverts under state-owned Obama. Work is well under way on the harvest of weak or critically depressed chi-
roads. tribes’ recommendation to develop an Ex- nook stocks. The plan has been submitted
The treaty tribes in western Washing- ecutive Order reaffirming and strength- to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
ton and the federal government filed suit ening the Obama Administration’s gov- Administration’s fisheries department for
against the state on Feb. 12, 2001, over ernment-to-government relationship with review.
hundreds of state-owned fish-blocking Indian tribes. Organizationally, commissioners con-
culverts. The state acknowledges that Tribes were highly encouraged by the ducted a facilitated strategic planning ex-
fish-blocking culverts are one of the most Obama Administration’s appointment of ercise to articulate their long-term vision,
recurring and correctable obstacles to officials who understand and respect treaty mission and goals for the NWIFC, and to
healthy salmon populations in Washing- hunting, fishing, and gathering rights, trib- lay out intermediate steps for the next three
ton. More than 1,832 culverts owned by al sovereignty and the federal trust respon- to five years. The plan increases emphasis
the state block more than 1,000 miles of sibility. Tribes were pleased especially with on the need to protect and restore freshwa-
salmon streams and access to many acres the appointment of Larry EchoHawk as the ter, marine and terrestrial habitats for the
of spawning and rearing habitat. assistant secretary for Indian Affairs. A fish, wildlife and plant communities that
On Aug. 23, 2007, the federal district special cabinet-level policy position in the are central to the tribes’ cultures and exer-
court ruled that state culverts that block White House also has been established to cise of their treaty-reserved rights.
fish and diminish salmon runs violate coordinate Indian affairs across all agen-
Indian treaty fishing rights. The court cies of the federal government. Commissioners plan to move more ag-
ordered the tribes and state to develop The tribal and state co-managers spent gressively to:
a prioritized repair schedule, but those much of 2009 finalizing development of ♦ Protect and restore essential habitats.
efforts were unsuccessful and the case a new harvest management plan for Puget ♦ Insist on improved and more
went to trial in October. Sound chinook. Puget Sound chinook cooperative management efforts.
Tribes pointed out that most of the failing were listed in 1999 as “threatened” under ♦ Forge partnerships by promoting
culverts are situated on small streams and the federal Endangered Species Act. The collaboration wherever possible.
have small repair price tags. current harvest management plan, part of ♦ Take whatever actions are necessary
The state claims it would take more than the overall recovery plan for the species, to reverse the declines and achieve
100 years to fix all of the failing culverts covered fisheries from 2004 to 2009. the restoration of critical natural
given its current rate of repair. Tribes ar- The plan guides fisheries in western resources and their habitats.
gue that increasing the number of culverts Washington under the co-managers’ ju-
replaced each year by a handful would risdiction, and also considers the total
shorten that time frame considerably. harvest impacts of all fisheries, including
A ruling in the case is expected early in those in Alaska and British Columbia, to
2010. assure that conservation objectives for
2 Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission Annual Report 2010
Tribal salmon m anagemenT
I ntegration of harvest, hatcheries and habitat (the three H’s) at the watershed
level is the key to salmon recovery. Recovery efforts must be coordinated and
based on sound science. As co-managers, treaty tribes have worked with the state
leads to harvest
for decades to consider the needs of both people and fish in refining fishery and on Skagit River
hatchery practices to ensure that they contribute to salmon recovery. To make the For the first time in 16 years, rec-
most of these efforts, a similar commitment to habitat restoration and recovery is reational fishermen were able to
absolutely essential if we are to succeed in saving the salmon. fish for Skagit River summer and fall
chinook in 2009, thanks to a plan
developed by tribal and state co-
“The tribes are committed to work-
ing together with non-Indian fisher-
men for the benefit of the salmon
resource,” said Lorraine Loomis,
Swinomish fisheries manager and
the tribal North of Falcon coordina-
tor. “This harvest opportunity on the
Skagit River is the outcome of strong
salmon management allowing us to
share the resource.”
A Skagit River chinook cools on ice during the Upper Skagit Tribe’s spring fishery. During the recreational fishery this
summer, tribal and sport fishermen
Salmon Harvest Management divided the week equally, with each
fishing for three-and-a-half days.
“This fishing package gives ev-
Conservation comes first. More than comprehensive ocean fisheries plan. While eryone a chance to fish,” said Scott
30 years ago, state and tribal salmon co- the PFMC is planning coastwide ocean Schuyler, natural resources director
managers began sharply reducing harvest fisheries, treaty tribes and the states of Or- for the Upper Skagit Tribe.
in response to declining wild salmon runs. egon and Washington are outlining inshore The Skagit River is the largest pro-
Today’s harvest levels are only 80-90 per- and coastal fisheries. This North of Falcon ducer of wild chinook in the region.
cent of those in 1985. process is named for the geographic region More than 23,000 wild summer and
Under U.S. v. Washington (the Boldt de- it covers: north of Cape Falcon, Ore., to the fall chinook were expected to return
cision), harvest can be shared only after Canadian border. to the Skagit. The next largest runs
of chinook to any Puget Sound river
sufficient fish are available to sustain the The PST was created in 1985 to coordi-
were fewer than 10,000 fish. Recre-
resource. Harvest management must be nate fisheries between tribes, state govern- ational fishing on the summer/fall
comprehensive and coordinated to limit ments, and the U.S. and Canadian govern- run had been closed since 1993.
mortality of weak wild stocks throughout ments. The Pacific Salmon Commission Sport fishermen share the tribes’
their migratory range. While ensuring implements the treaty and establishes fish- interest in sustaining harvestable
conservation, harvest management enables ery regimes, assesses each country’s per- numbers of fish, said Larry Carpen-
appropriate harvest of healthy stocks. formance and compliance with the treaty, ter of Master Marine in Mount Ver-
Harvest management must be based on and is a forum for fisheries issues. The non. Carpenter represented anglers
the best available science and include mon- treaty was updated in 1999 and 2008. during the salmon allocation pro-
itoring and reporting systems to evaluate All proposed fisheries must comply with cess.
“We’ve got to continue the run,”
the status of stocks and impacts of fisher- requirements of the federal Endangered
Carpenter said. “I grew up fishing
ies, and inform future decisions. Species Act (ESA) to ensure protection the Skagit. Where else can you go
Treaty Indian tribes and the Washington of listed stocks. In western Washington, along the I-5 corridor to catch a prize
State Department of Fish and Wildlife co- Puget Sound chinook and steelhead, Hood wild king salmon?”
manage salmon fisheries in Puget Sound, Canal summer chum and Lake Ozette A key factor to lasting salmon re-
the Strait of Juan de Fuca and nearshore sockeye are listed as “threatened” under covery is habitat restoration, Loomis
coastal waters. Tribal and state managers the ESA. said. “The largest reason for the de-
work cooperatively through the Pacific The Treaty Indian Fishery Catch Man- cline of salmon is the loss and deg-
Fishery Management Council (PFMC) agement Program is a key part of tribal radation of habitat,” she said. “The
and the North of Falcon process to develop and harvest management. Managed by the only way to lasting salmon recovery
fishing seasons that protect weak salmon Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, is to repair that damage.”
Restoration projects by the Up-
stocks. Tribal and state co-managers also the program provides accurate, same-day
per Skagit, Swinomish and Sauk-
work with Canadian and Alaskan fisheries catch statistics for treaty Indian fisheries Suiattle tribes so far have improved
managers through the U.S./Canada Pacific in the U.S. v. Washington case area. The hundreds of acres of chinook rear-
Salmon Treaty (PST). program enables tribal harvest levels to be ing habitat in freshwater banks,
The PFMC is a public forum established monitored closely and in-season adjust- backwaters, estuary channels and
by the federal government that develops a ments to be made. pocket estuaries.
Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission Annual Report 2010 3
Tribal Salmon managemenT
Salmon Hatchery Management
More than 100 salmon enhancement facili-
ties are operated in western Washington by
treaty tribes, the state Department of Fish
and Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Ser- Live Spawning
vice. It is the largest salmon hatchery system
in the world. About 150 million salmon and
steelhead are released annually from western to Puyallup Tribe
Washington hatcheries; about 35 million of
those by the tribes. The Puyallup Tribe of Indians is
While tribal hatcheries have been produc- rescuing a wild steelhead brood-
ing fish for nearly 40 years, federal funding stock program threatened by the
closure of the state’s Voights Creek
has not kept pace, threatening not only the
Hatchery, which was heavily dam-
ability of the tribes to implement essential aged by floods in 2008.
hatchery reform projects, but also the tribes’ “If steelhead native to this water-
basic ability to produce hatchery salmon for shed can’t thrive in the wild, the only
harvest. option is to raise some of them in
Hatcheries help meet treaty tribal harvest a hatchery to ensure their survival
obligations when wild salmon stocks cannot and make sure their genetic traits
sustain harvest. Hatchery-produced salmon aren’t lost,” said Blake Smith, en-
relieve pressure on commingled wild stocks. hancement biologist with the tribe.
Tribal hatcheries also provide additional “Certain conditions, such as water
fish for harvest by non-Indian fishermen, temperature, can be controlled in a Terry Sebastian, Puyallup fisheries biologist,
hatchery so fish show a higher rate removes an adult steelhead from a fish trap on
and help build natural runs that are cultur-
of survival there than they do in the the White River.
ally and spiritually important to the tribes. wild.”
Some hatcheries support wild runs through Offspring of wild Puyallup steel- anesthetized instead of killed be-
broodstock programs in which native fish are head broodstock are raised at a forehand.
captured and spawned, and their progeny are handful of state and tribal hatcher- “By not killing the fish to spawn
released to help bolster naturally spawning ies in the Puyallup River watershed. them in the hatchery, we are al-
salmon runs. With the temporary closure of the lowing the fish to take their natural
Since 2002 the tribal and state co-manag- Voights Creek Hatchery, the tribe is course,” Smith said. “Hopefully, now
ers have been implementing hatchery reform continuing the steelhead recovery that they have a chance to come
efforts based on recommendations from an effort at its Diru Creek Hatchery back, they’ll come back and spawn
near Puyallup. It’s there that some again.”
independent science panel. Some of the rec-
of the threatened, ESA-listed Historic low runs of Puyallup River
ommendations included making capital im- steelhead are undergoing a hand- steelhead have become common in
provements to tribal hatchery facilities. spawning technique that allows recent years.
The tribes of the Northwest Indian Fish- them to be released back into the For the past three years, adult
eries Commission created the Tribal Fish river after their eggs or milt (sperm) steelhead have been collected in a
Health Program in 1988 to meet the needs of are collected. trap on the White River – a tributary
their enhancement programs. Tribes conduct “Unlike other salmon that always to the Puyallup – and held at Voights
extensive “mass marking” of hatchery salm- die soon after they spawn, a portion Creek until they were spawned. Their
on. Young salmon are marked by having their of steelhead return more than once offspring were raised at Voights until
fleshy adipose fin removed at the hatchery to spawn,” Smith said. they were transported to the Puyal-
before release. Typically, eggs and milt are taken lup tribal facility at Diru Creek and
from salmon after they are killed. In finally to the Muckleshoot Tribe’s
The treaty tribes also operate a research-
the live spawning process, female White River Hatchery for release.
based coded-wire tag program. Tags are in- fish are injected with air to push With Voights Creek offline for at
serted into the noses of young salmon. When out some of their eggs. Male fish least a year, the fish will be spawned
tagged salmon are harvested and sampled as are spawned in a traditional man- and raised at Diru until they are
adults, they provide important information ner – hand-squeezing milt – but are transported to White River.
about survival, migration and hatchery effec-
tiveness. The tribes annually mass mark more
than 11 million fish and insert coded-wire
tags in nearly 4 million fish.
4 Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission Annual Report 2010
Salmon Habitat Management
Chinook salmon spawned last
summer in a North Fork Nooksack
River side channel that was restored
a year earlier by the Nooksack
The side channel was dry during
the summer spawning season be-
fore the tribe constructed six log-
jams to redirect the flow of water.
The aim was to increase flow into
the existing side channel to provide
Taking advantage of newly restored habitat, a chinook salmon spawns in a side channel stable spawning habitat that experi-
of the North Fork Nooksack River. ences less scour in the winter.
In late August, less than a year af-
Harvest management and hatchery
practices aren’t enough to sustain healthy
Cooperation Essential ter the logjams were completed, trib-
al and state biologists were delight-
salmon populations. To make the most to Habitat Management ed to see chinook salmon spawning
of advances in harvest and hatchery Cooperation has been the keystone of in the newly watered channel. A
management, the habitat must be natural resources co-management in west- survey at the likely peak of spawning
improved. Protection and restoration of ern Washington for decades. Nowhere is found 34 live chinook, 32 carcasses
habitat quality and quantity are essential the need for cooperation greater than in and 31 redds (egg nests).
for salmon recovery. habitat restoration and protection, because “It’s exciting that salmon are tak-
Salmon habitat has been lost and de- of the enormity of the task. ing advantage of the newly formed
habitat,” said Victor Insera, the
graded steadily for the past 150 years as One such cooperative habitat manage-
tribe’s watershed restoration coordi-
the non-Indian population in western ment effort is the Salmon and Steelhead nator. “It gives the tribe’s construc-
Washington has exploded. Forests have Habitat Inventory and Assessment Pro- tion crews a real sense of accom-
been cleared, fish passage blocked by gram (SSHIAP). This state and tribal part- plishment.”
dams and culverts, and the entire region nership created in 1995 provides a “living” The inspiration for the restora-
criss-crossed with roads. database for local and regional habitat tion was a nearby forested channel
The tribes believe watershed- and stock- analyses. The program documents and island known as Lone Tree, where a
specific limiting factors must be addressed quantifies past and current habitat condi- tall cottonwood is home to an eagle’s
to restore and improve the productivity of tions, assesses the effect habitat loss and nest. A natural logjam helped cre-
naturally spawning salmon. Watershed- degradation have on salmon and steelhead ate what is left of the island, which
provides stable ground for trees to
specific plans for salmon recovery must stocks, and assists in development of strat-
mature and eventually contribute
be developed by the treaty tribal and state egies. SSHIAP produces an annual “State natural wood that is critical to form-
co-managers in collaboration with stake- of Our Watersheds Report” that helps pro- ing good salmon habitat.
holders. vide a blueprint for salmon recovery. Historically, logjams enabled is-
The treaty Indian tribes are working The federal government has aided tribes lands and side channels to form, but
hard to restore some of that lost habitat. in their salmon recovery efforts through those have been disappearing dur-
Dozens of engineered logjams are being the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery ing the past 100 years, largely be-
built to return natural processes to rivers Fund. PCSRF projects are making signifi- cause of the loss of woody debris.
and streams and help form new spawning cant contributions to the recovery of wild The salmon recovery plan for the
and rearing habitat. salmon throughout the region. watershed listed channel instability
Tribes extensively monitor water qual- In western Washington alone, the PCSRF as the highest priority limiting factor
for North Fork Nooksack spring
ity for pollution and to ensure that factors has helped restore more than 300 miles of
chinook, and identified Lone Tree as
such as dissolved oxygen levels are ad- streamside habitat, remove more than 100 a restoration priority.
equate for salmon and other fish. Tribes fish passage barriers and restore more than Work began in September on the
also collaborate with property owners to 100 acres of wetland and estuarine habitat. second phase of the project, build-
improve salmon-bearing stream habitat on PCSRF funding for most of these projects ing additional logjams to create
private land. goes further because tribes leverage the more secondary channels and to
To make limited federal funding work funding through cooperation with local encourage the river to flow into the
to its fullest, the tribes partner with state governments, conservation groups and reconnected side channel.
agencies, environmental groups, industries others.
and others through collaborative habitat
protection, restoration and enhancement
Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission Annual Report 2010 5
D uring the past 30 years, the spirit of cooperation in western
Washington has flourished, as seen in a series of collaborative
conservation processes. As co-managers of salmon, shellfish and
wildlife, tribes are active participants in all of these processes. They
♦ Puget Sound Partnership;
♦ Ocean Ecosystem Management Initiative;
♦ Timber/Fish/Wildlife Forests and Fish Report; and
♦ Coordinated Tribal Water Resources Program.
Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe habitat biologist
Hans Daubenberger checks a juvenile salmon for
a coded-wire tag.
Puget Sound Partnership Port Gamble S’Klallam
The tribes have a high standard critical data and a strategy for Gathers Nearshore Data
for the recovery of Puget Sound – tackling threats to the waters in Despite blustery weather and a small craft ad-
they want to clean it up enough so and around Puget Sound. visory, the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe spent a
that they can harvest and eat fish The goals are to protect the last chilly October afternoon tow netting the waters
and shellfish every day. remaining intact places, restore just north of Hood Canal. The net, similar to a
The Puget Sound Partnership damaged and polluted sites, stop surface trawl, targeted juvenile salmon on their
was created by Gov. Chris water pollution at its source, and outward migration from Hood Canal and Puget
Gregoire in 2005 to recover Puget coordinate all protection, restora- Sound.
Sound’s health by 2020. In 2007, tion and cleanup efforts. As part of the tribe’s juvenile salmon pilot
the Partnership was established as Tribes always have had a pres- study, natural resources staff collected data
weekly between April and October. In addition
a state agency. ence in every major watershed in
to tow netting, the tribe used other collection
Treaty tribes in western Wash- what is now the state of Washing- methods, including beach seining and scanning
ington have taken a leadership ton. They have thousands of years the water column with SONAR.
role in this effort, on top of their of experience in the region, and Similar projects are under way in the Skagit wa-
other ongoing natural resources a vested interest in the health of tershed and the San Juan Islands. By conducting
responsibilities. NWIFC Chair- Puget Sound’s natural resources. parallel studies throughout Puget Sound, biolo-
man Billy Frank Jr. co-chaired the As co-managers, with the state, gists are able to compare data over a larger spa-
development of the Partnership of the region’s natural resources, tial scale. This work is part of the Puget Sound
with former Environmental Pro- the tribes co-authored the Puget Partnership’s larger effort to improve the health
tection Agency Administrator Bill Sound Chinook Salmon Recovery of the sound by 2020.
The objectives of Port Gamble’s pilot project
Ruckelshaus, and serves on the Plan, which is being implemented
are to study the current state of the marine en-
Partnership’s Leadership Council. through the Puget Sound Partner- vironment and assess the health of juvenile fish
The Puget Sound Partnership’s ship. The recovery of summer as they head to sea.
Action Agenda was adopted in chum in Puget Sound also is being “We want to get a better understanding of the
2008 to serve as a guide to Puget implemented through the Partner- health of salmon coming in and out of Hood Ca-
Sound restoration and protection ship and incorporated in its Action nal,” said Hans Daubenberger, the tribe’s habitat
efforts for years to come. Tribes Agenda. Tribal involvement in the biologist. “It will help us manage fisheries bet-
were active participants in the Partnership is vital to ensure the ter.”
development of this document. success of these salmon recovery The tribe is collecting a variety of data, includ-
The Action Agenda provides efforts. ing the weight and length of fish. Genetic and gut
samples also are being gathered.
“We know a lot about freshwater systems
and what factors play important roles in those
habitats, but not so much about nearshore and
deep-water marine environments,” Daubenberg-
er said. “We want to see which method provides
the most information in the most efficient way
Information from the pilot project will be used
to develop a five-year study of the area starting
6 Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission Annual Report 2010
Ocean Ecosystem Initiative
Coastal treaty Indian tribes al- tem, coastal tribes and the state
ways have relied on the ocean’s re- of Washington established the In-
sources. Species such as salmon, tergovernmental Policy Council
groundfish, whales, clams and to guide management of Olympic
crab are central to tribal cultures. Coast National Marine Sanctuary.
The treaty Indian tribes believe The tribes and the state already
that these and all natural resourc- have developed ocean research Katie Rathmell, CMOP, prepares the research
glider Phoebe aboard a Quinault fishing boat.
es are connected and that only a and planning goals – many of
holistic ecosystem management which mirror recommendations
approach ultimately can meet the of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Quinault Ocean Glider
needs of those resources and the Policy – for a coordinated and
people who depend upon them. comprehensive management ef- Provides Crucial Data
The state of Washington, fort. In the past, the Quinault Indian Nation (QIN)
Hoh Indian Tribe, Makah Tribe, Transition to ecosystem-based had only occasional glimpses into the health of
Quileute Tribe and the Quinault management requires expansion the vast ocean that is its traditional fishing area,
Indian Nation are working of resource assessment surveys stretching about 50 miles from Grays Harbor
with the National Oceanic and and ocean monitoring systems off north to Destruction Island.
Atmospheric Administration to the Olympic coast. This includes But last summer, thanks to a computer-
synthesize common research goals augmenting federal trawl surveys directed underwater research glider that looks
like a motorcycle-sized torpedo with wings, QIN
to understand changing ocean and groundfish port sampling,
was able to gather four weeks of comprehensive
conditions and create the building and conducting a comprehensive data throughout its fishing area. The Center
blocks for marine spatial planning. assessment of the coastal ecosys- for Coastal Margin Observation & Prediction
The tribes and state support tem. (CMOP) worked with QIN marine scientist Joe
ocean monitoring and research Another pressing need is to Schumacker to plan a data-gathering project for
leading to an ecosystem-based complete sonar mapping and sur- the glider, named “Phoebe.”
management of fishery resources. veying of the seabed off the Olym- “This mission provided us with important in-
Effective management of the ocean pic coast. Less than 25 percent of formation about the Quinault traditional ocean
ecosystem requires development of the area’s seabed has been mapped waters that would be cost-prohibitive to obtain
basic baseline information against and surveyed to document species otherwise,” Schumacker said.
which changes can be measured. and habitat types. Acquiring this The glider, deployed and recovered by a QIN
fishing vessel, gathered salinity, dissolved oxy-
Achieving research goals will data is essential to effectively ad-
gen, fluorescence and temperatures at different
mean utilizing, expanding on dress groundfish conservation depths, then transmitted the newly collected
and collaborating with existing concerns and minimize interac- data to CMOP.
physical and biological databases. tions with deep-water sponge and QIN is particularly interested in dissolved oxy-
In recognition of the challenges coral species. gen levels after an episode of low oxygen left
facing the Olympic coast ecosys- hundreds of normally bottom-dwelling creatures
on the nation’s beaches in 2006.
“We’re still looking at the results from the glid-
The waters off the coast of Washington sustain tribal cultures in places such er’s mission,” Schumacker said.
as Second Beach near LaPush, home of the Quileute Tribe. Nutrient-rich but oxygen-poor water wells up
from the depths and feeds marine life. Natural
mixing of the water column is important to off-
set the negative effects of the deep water’s low
oxygen levels. The glider mission will help QIN
understand where lower oxygen levels occur and
if there are any hints of possible fish kills in the
“Up until now, the only similar information we
can get is from one seasonal buoy in this area
and that is just a snapshot of the water qual-
ity in that one specific area,” Schumacker said.
“Phoebe gives us a look at a large piece of the
ocean that we really have not had the ability to
Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission Annual Report 2010 7
Coordinated Tribal Water Resources
For nearly 20 years, the treaty Indian
tribes in western Washington have part-
nered with the federal Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) to address water
quality issues under the Clean Water Act.
In 2009, the Northwest Indian Fisheries
Commission and EPA launched the Water
Quality Exchange Network to store, share,
manage and analyze data. The network
enables member tribes to exchange water
quality data with each other for regional
scale analysis and also send data to the
EPA to meet grant obligations.
Building on the success of the collabora-
tion with EPA, a few years ago the tribes
partnered with the U.S. Geological Sur-
vey (USGS) to expand their Coordinated
Tribal Water Quality Program into a Coor-
dinated Tribal Water Resources Program.
As a federal agency within the Interior
Department, USGS has a trust responsibil-
ity to tribal governments. It also is the pre-
eminent authority among governments for
water resources, providing valuable exper-
tise, oversight and guidance to the tribal
John Konovsky, environmental program manager for the Squaxin Island
effort. Tribe, measures low flow on Schneider Creek.
While much already has been accom-
plished in the area of water quality, the Co-
ordinated Tribal Water Resources Program
Squaxin Tribe Studies Low Stream Flow
is examining issues of water quantity. In The Squaxin Island Tribe is track- “As the water levels drop each
ing low flows in a dozen small South summer, salmon habitat disappears
western Washington, climatic changes and
Sound streams to try to figure out and water temperatures increase,
urban development are having profound how low the flows can drop in late which is harmful to salmon,” Ko-
effects on water resources and aquatic eco- summer. The tribe is one of 19 trea- novsky said. “Being able to predict
systems. This situation will worsen with ty Indian tribes in western Wash- that is important.”
an expected doubling of the population in ington participating in a regionwide The tribe is concerned especially
the Puget Sound region during the next 20 study with the U.S. Geological Sur- about the health of coho, which have
years. vey (USGS) to build a model that can been on a downward slide for years.
predict low stream flows. The tribe suspects that a decline in
The Coordinated Tribal Water Resources “This is important information for the health of freshwater and saltwa-
Program aims to: protecting salmon, and it’s some- ter habitat is the cause, but the spe-
♦ Establish instream flows to sustain thing we don’t know a lot about in cific reasons remain a mystery.
ungauged stream systems,” said “There is no way that the tribe
viable and harvestable populations of
John Konovsky, environmental pro- or the USGS could afford to deploy
fish. gram manager for the tribe. “The regular gauges on all of the impor-
♦ Identify limiting factors for salmon science tells us that the more water tant salmon streams in deep South
recovery. there is in summer, the more rearing Sound,” Konovsky said. “Developing
♦ Protect existing ground and surface coho there are.” a model is a much cheaper way to
water supplies. Tribal staff take weekly recordings get nearly the same results.”
♦ Review and evaluate administrative during rain-free periods in late sum- The overall project with USGS will
decisions, such as proposed water mer and early fall – when stream give western Washington tribes a
permits and instream flows, and flows are the lowest – carefully quan- clearer and more comprehensive
project proposals on- and off- tifying any drop in flow. All streams view of water resources in their trea-
within the Squaxin Island Tribe’s ty areas.
treaty-reserved fishing area depend “There’s never been this kind of
♦ Participate in federal, state and local exclusively on rain or groundwater partnership between tribes and
planning processes for water quantity for their flows. a federal agency to look at the big
and quality management. Understanding low flow variability picture of water and streams,” Ko-
is important to protect species like novsky said. “This is an important
coho and trout because they spend step toward protecting and restoring
a good portion of their lives in fresh weak salmon runs.”
8 Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission Annual Report 2010
Timber/Fish/Wildlife Upper Skagit Tribe
Finds Fish, Verifies
The Timber/Fish/Wildlife Agreement
(TFW) is a national success story that has
Forests and Fish Report Streamside Buffer
provided a 22-year legacy of collaborative A variety of factors – including the list- Protecting fish habitat begins with
conservation. TFW brings together tribes, ing of several western Washington salmon determining where the fish are.
state and federal agencies, environmental stocks under the federal Endangered Spe- Biologist Doug Couvelier and
groups and private forest landowners in a cies Act (ESA), ongoing statewide water field technician Tim Shelton, with
process that ensures protection for salmon, quality degradation, and concern over the the Upper Skagit Tribe, waded up
wildlife and other species while also pro- continued economic viability of the timber a tributary from its confluence with
viding for the economic health of the tim- industry – brought TFW participants to- Day Lake to establish how much
gether in November 1996 to develop joint of the creek is being used by fish.
Using an electroshocker strapped
The timber industry’s long-range goals solutions to these problems. The result
to a backpack, Couvelier created an
of economic stability and regulatory cer- was a plan to update forest practices rules electrical field that attracted fish to a
tainty are shared by the tribes, who view called the Forests and Fish Report (FFR), submerged electrode. They marked
industry as a long-term partner in forest which was completed in April 1999, and the spots where fish were sighted as
management. Through TFW, the timber later adopted by the Washington State they moved 3,000 feet upstream,
industry has recognized its impact on wa- Legislature. finding fish within 400 feet of the
ter quality, fish and wildlife habitat, and The FFR is based on four goals: main road.
other resources important to tribes’ eco- ♦ To provide compliance with the ESA “We found lots of fish throughout
nomic, cultural and spiritual survival. for aquatic and riparian-dependent the stream, even in steep, swift-
moving reaches,” Couvelier said.
TFW matches the collective experience species on non-federal forestlands;
Species found in Day Lake include
and expertise of participants in a consen- ♦ To restore and maintain riparian rainbow, cutthroat and brook
sus decision-making process. The TFW habitat on non-federal forestlands to trout; the lake is not accessible to
Agreement is an organic process that support a harvestable supply of fish; anadromous fish.
yields to a changing environment. In this ♦ To meet the requirements of the Forest practices on private land in
adaptive management system, participants federal Clean Water Act for water western Washington are managed
understand and encourage evaluation and quality on non-federal forestlands; through the state Forest Practices
modification of the agreement to bet- and Board under the Forests and Fish
ter protect natural resources and improve ♦ To maintain the economic viability Report Habitat and Conservation
forest practices. Experience determines of the timber industry in the state of Plan and the Timber/Fish/Wildlife
whether the needs of the parties are being Washington. Agreement.
By physically walking a stream
and denoting the last reach where
The tribes offer a centuries-old tradition fish are found, tribal biologists make
of resource stewardship, practice state- sure that fish-bearing streams are
of-the-art technological innovation, and given the tree buffer protection
are located strategically to respond to the needed to protect fish and habitat.
critical management needs in their local They also establish that field maps
watersheds. accurately show whether fish are
present in a stream.
Working with timber companies,
tribes make sure logging practices
don’t remove too many of the trees
that are required to keep water cool,
filter runoff, stabilize banks and cre-
ate pools for fish to rest and feed.
Where fish are found, timber com-
panies are required to maintain an
appropriate streamside buffer.
Riparian buffers consist of a core
zone, inner zone and outer zone that
vary in width depending on stream
size and site class. No harvest is al-
lowed in the core zone. Inner zone
harvest is allowed under certain
conditions, and harvest in the outer
zone requires that 20 trees per acre
Under current regulations, a fish-
bearing stream of the size and site
class of the one near Day Lake calls
for a 50-foot core zone, 55-foot in-
Upper Skagit technician Tim Shelton (left) and TFW biologist Doug Couvelier survey ner zone and 35-foot outer zone.
a stream near Day Lake.
Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission Annual Report 2010 9
Wildlife m anagemenT
The treaty Indian tribes work coopera-
tively with the state to co-manage wildlife
resources in western Washington. Togeth-
er, the co-managers are developing region-
al hunting management agreements for
animals such as deer, elk, bear, goats and
cougars. The agreements coordinate hunt-
ing seasons, harvest reporting and enforce-
ment. Other information crucial to wildlife
management, such as herd size and mortal-
ity estimates, also will be shared under the
Western Washington treaty tribal hunt-
ers account for a very small portion of the
total combined deer and elk harvest in the
Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe
state. According to statistics for 2008-2009,
tribal members harvested 375 elk and 498
deer, while non-Indian hunters harvested
8,024 elk and 37,892 deer.
Tribal hunters do not hunt for sport and
most do not hunt only for themselves.
Tribal culture in western Washington is Lower Elwha staff Kim Sager-Fradkin (left), Brandon Nickerson (center) and
based on extended family relationships. A Phillip Blackcrow monitor an elk’s temperature and collect samples.
tribal hunter usually shares his game with
several families. In some cases, tribes may Lower Elwha Studies Roosevelt Elk
designate a hunter to harvest one or more With an interest in the long-term calving. Deconstructing the 108-foot
animals for elders or families that are un- sustainability of elk populations Elwha Dam and the 210-foot Glines
able to hunt. All tribes prohibit hunting for on the north Olympic Peninsula, Canyon Dam will help restore more
commercial purposes. the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe has than 500 acres, including floodplain
As a sovereign government, each treaty started a three-year research proj- habitat, which have been inundated
tribe develops its own hunting regulations ect to gather baseline data about with water for nearly 100 years.
and ordinances governing tribal members. the Roosevelt elk herd that resides “The tribe is interested in how elk
between the Elwha River and Clal- use floodplain habitats along the El-
Each tribe also maintains an enforcement
lam Bay. wha before the dams are removed,”
program to ensure compliance with tribal The tribe has two key goals: to said Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe wild-
regulations. The ratio of tribal enforcement gather basic ecological informa- life biologist Kim Sager-Fradkin. “We
officers to treaty hunters is higher than the tion on the Roosevelt herd prior to are also interested in developing
ratio of state enforcement officers to non- deconstruction of the Elwha dams methods for long-term population
Indian hunters. in 2011; and to develop methods monitoring throughout the entire
Tribes set seasons based on the ability for longer-term monitoring of these Pysht GMU.”
of the resource to support harvest. Before herds. This will allow the tribe to For the next three years, the tribe
opening any area to hunting, many tribes determine if the elk population is will collect fecal pellets for DNA
forward their regulations to the state De- increasing, decreasing or remaining analysis, conduct helicopter aerial
partment of Fish and Wildlife for review stable over time. This study will pro- surveys, and capture several elk to
vide the tribe with information about equip with Global Positioning Sys-
and comment. Tribes also share their har-
seasonal elk movement patterns, tem (GPS) radio-tracking collars.
vest data with the agency. habitat requirements, and popula- The tribe always has used elk for
Tribal hunters are licensed by their tion size and structure. subsistence, cultural and spiritual
tribes and must obtain tags for each big The tribe is focusing on the Pysht purposes, and strives to preserve
game animal they wish to hunt. All tribal Game Management Unit (GMU), its treaty-reserved right to hunt. This
hunters carry photo identification cards which runs north of Highway 101 elk management program is aimed
that include their name, date of birth and from the Elwha River west to Clallam at collecting data that will allow the
tribal affiliation. Bay. Very little is known about the tribe and Washington Department
If a tribal member is found in violation herds in this area, which includes of Fish and Wildlife to set more bio-
of tribal regulations, he is cited in tribal the Elwha and Indian valleys and the logically based harvest regulations,
Joyce-Piedmont area. thus ensuring the long-term sustain-
court. Penalties can include fines and loss
Frequent inhabitants of river val- ability of these herds, Sager-Fradkin
of hunting privileges. In most cases, tribal leys, elk rely on the Elwha River flood- said.
hunting regulations address the same har- plain for food, overwintering and
vest and safety concerns as state rules,
such as prohibiting the carrying of loaded
firearms in vehicles.
10 Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission Annual Report 2010
shellfish m anagemenT
Shellfish have been a mainstay of west-
ern Washington Indian tribes for thou-
sands of years and remain important today
for economic, subsistence and ceremonial
As a co-manager of the shellfish re-
source, each treaty Indian tribe maintains
a shellfish program and manages its shell-
fish harvest cooperatively with other tribes
and the state through resource-sharing
Tribal shellfish enhancement results in
higher and more consistent harvest levels
and benefits both tribal and non-Indian
diggers. Tribes also conduct research on
underutilized species such as Olympia
oysters and sea urchins, to develop better
management systems and understanding
Debbie Preston (2)
of the marine ecosystem.
Tribes have two distinct types of shellfish
harvest – commercial and ceremonial/
subsistence. Shellfish harvested during a
commercial fishery are sold to licensed
shellfish buyers who either sell directly to Makah tribal members Evan Bowechop (left) and Michael Murner count olive shells as
the public or to other distributors. Along part of a summer internship with the tribe’s natural resources department.
with state co-managers, tribes closely
monitor beaches to make sure harvested Makah Surveys Purple Olive Shells
shellfish is safe to eat.
The chattering sound of hundreds start to establish population pat-
Ceremonial and subsistence harvests of
of decorative purple olive shells has terns,” said Jonathan Scordino, ma-
shellfish, which have a central role in tribal accompanied Makah tribal dancers rine mammal biologist for the Makah
gatherings and daily nutrition, are intend- for at least 500 years. The 3/4-inch Tribe. Even as the interns worked
ed for tribal use only. shells have been found in the old- one foggy morning, a group of tribal
Preliminary data for 2008, the most est archeological digs in Neah Bay. members harvested the shells a
recent data available, indicate that treaty Holes pierced in the end indicate little farther down the beach.
tribes in western Washington commercially they were used for necklaces, head- Each year, students work in a
harvested approximately 790,000 pounds bands, belts and other decorations. variety of natural resources depart-
of manila and native littleneck clams; 2.5 Makah tribal member Evan ments within the tribe, learning
million pounds of geoduck clams; nearly Bowechop, 16, was reminded about different kinds of jobs and as-
700,000 pounds of oysters; 6.5 million of the history as he counted the sisting with natural resources man-
living shells in the surf where agement activities. The hope is that
pounds of crab; 400,000 pounds of razor
they are found on Hobuck Beach some tribal members will become
clams; and 200,000 pounds of shrimp. near Neah Bay. It was part of his interested in pursuing advanced ed-
These fisheries occur throughout Wash- summer intern job with the Makah ucation in a related field and come
ington coastal areas and Puget Sound. Natural Resources Department. He back to work for the tribe.
and partner Michael Murner, 17, The interns finished the summer
Olive shells are collected by Makah tribal conducted a survey of the olive shell by presenting a paper to tribal mem-
members for use in necklaces, headbands and population to help Makah natural bers about their activities, including
button blankets. resources managers get an idea of one by Murner on the olive shells.
the numbers and locations of the “It was an interesting summer,”
small, snail-inhabited shell. Bowechop said.” It kept me busy
“The idea is to have the interns do and I learned a lot.”
this survey each summer so we can
Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission Annual Report 2010 11
“We, the Indians of the Pacific The treaty tribes in western Washington The NWIFC is a support organiza-
Northwest, recognize that our fisheries are Hoh, Jamestown S’Klallam, Lower tion that provides direct services to the
are a basic and important natural Elwha Klallam, Lummi Nation, Makah, 20 member tribes to assist with natural
resource and of vital concern to the Muckleshoot, Nisqually, Nooksack, Port resources management. The NWIFC em-
Indians of this state, and that the Gamble S’Klallam, Puyallup, Quileute, ploys about 70 full-time employees and is
conservation of this natural resource Quinault Indian Nation, Sauk-Suiattle, headquartered in Olympia, Wash., with
is dependent upon effective and Skokomish, Squaxin Island, Stillaguamish, satellite offices in Forks, Kingston and
progressive management. We further Suquamish, Swinomish, Tulalip and Upper Mount Vernon.
believe that by unity of action, we can Skagit. The tribes select commissioners who
best accomplish these things, not The Northwest Indian Fisheries develop policy and provide direction. The
only for the benefit of our own people, Commission (NWIFC) was created in commissioners elect a chairman, vice-
but for all of the people of the Pacific 1974 by the tribes as a result of the U.S. chairman and treasurer. The commission’s
Northwest.” v. Washington litigation that affirmed their executive director supervises the staff that
– Preamble to the NWIFC Constitution treaty rights to salmon, wildlife, shellfish implements the policies and fisheries man-
and other resources. The ruling further agement activities approved by the com-
established the tribes as natural resources missioners.
co-managers with the state.
Fisheries Management Quantitative Services Enhancement Services
♦ Long-range planning, wild ♦ Administering and coordinating ♦ Coded-wire tagging of 4 million
salmon recovery efforts and the Treaty Indian Catch Monitoring fish at tribal hatcheries to provide
federal Endangered Species Act Program. information critical to fisheries
implementation. ♦ Providing statistical consulting management.
♦ Developing pre-season fishing services. ♦ Providing genetic, ecological and
agreements and in-season forecasts. ♦ Conducting data analysis of fisheries statistical consulting for tribal
♦ Post-season fishery analysis and studies and developing study designs. hatchery programs.
reporting. ♦ Updating and evaluating fishery ♦ Providing fish health services to
management statistical models and tribal hatcheries.
Habitat Services U.S./Canada Information and
Pacific Salmon Treaty Education Services
♦ Coordinating policy and technical
discussion between tribes and ♦ Facilitating inter-tribal and inter- ♦ Producing news releases, newsletters,
federal, state and local governments, agency meetings, developing issue brochures, reports, curricula,
and other interested parties. papers and negotiation options. videos, photographs, exhibits and
♦ Coordinating, representing and ♦ Serving on the pink, chum, coho, maintaining the commission’s
monitoring tribal interests in the chinook, Fraser sockeye and data- Web site, nwifc.org, to educate the
Timber/Fish/Wildlife Forests and sharing technical committees, as well public about tribal natural resources
Fish Report process, Coordinated as other work groups and panels. management activities and objectives.
Tribal Water Resources and Ambient ♦ Coordinating tribal research and ♦ Responding to hundreds of public
Monitoring programs. data-gathering activities associated requests for information about
♦ Implementing the Salmon and with implementation of the Pacific the tribes and their tribal natural
Steelhead Habitat Inventory and Salmon Committee. resources management activities.
Assessment Project. ♦ Monitoring state and federal
legislation and coordinating tribal
6730 Martin Way E.
Olympia, WA 98516
12 Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission Annual Report 2010