Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission
■ Recovering Sockeye Salmon
■ Tribes, State Share Elk Harvest
■ Studying Mating Habits of Crab
■ Hatchery Achieving Egg Goals
■ Restored Creek Sees More Chum
Being Frank NWIFC News
Now is the time to be Fisheries Commission
6730 Martin Way E.
bold about Puget Sound Olympia, WA 98516
By Billy Frank Jr.
NWIFC Chairman NWIFC News is published quarterly. Free
subscriptions are available. This edition is
The Puget Sound Partnership recently released its Action Agenda, a also online at www.nwifc.org. Articles in
pathway for fixing the problems that are slowly killing Puget Sound. NWIFC News may be reprinted.
For the tribes, restoring Puget Sound is about our cultures and the
food we eat. It was the same when we made treaties with the U.S. gov- NWIFC Chairman: Billy Frank Jr.;
ernment. We gave up nearly all the land in western Washington, but we NWIFC Executive Director: Mike
kept our rights to salmon, Grayum; Information and Education
shellfish and other re- Services Division Manager: Tony Meyer;
sources. Contributing Editor: Steve Robinson;
An unhealthy Puget Regional Information Officers: Debbie
Sound means no salmon Preston, Coast; Emmett O’Connell, South
returning to our rivers; it Sound; Tiffany Royal, Hood Canal/Strait of
means the few shellfish Juan de Fuca; Kari Neumeyer, North Sound;
able to survive on our Editorial Assistant: Sheila McCloud
beaches will be too poi-
soned to eat. With these
NWIFC Member Tribes: Hoh, Jamestown
cornerstones of our cul-
S’Klallam, Lower Elwha Klallam, Lummi
ture gone, it would be the
Nation, Makah, Muckleshoot, Nisqually,
end of us. We need a clean
Nooksack, Port Gamble S’Klallam,
Puget Sound because we depend on the resources it provides.
Puyallup, Quileute Tribe, Quinault
We also need bravery from the non-Indian leaders in this state. We
Indian Nation, Sauk-Suiattle, Skokomish,
can’t let the Puget Sound Partnership become the latest failed effort to
turn this region around. Squaxin Island, Stillaguamish, Suquamish,
Words, plans and agendas are important, but they don’t matter with- Swinomish, Tulalip and Upper Skagit
out money and action.
We are encouraged by the Partnership’s progress so far and we feel Tribal contact information is available
there are some places where the Action Agenda can be tightened: under Member Tribes at www.nwifc.org
● Require that all water treatment plants achieve zero pollution
discharge by 2020. We have the technology to do this; we need
the political will to make it happen.
● Take a close look at the permits that are issued to allow for
stormwater runoff. And, while we’re at it, examine Hydraulic
Permit Approval permits issued by the state to allow builders
and others to do work near salmon-bearing waters. Are these
permitting programs consistent with our efforts to clean up Puget
When you’re at the edge, the next step is hard to take. We have to take
that step – and each following step – because there is no more room to
let the health of Puget Sound slide any further. This is where we move
forward and save Puget Sound or we stand and watch it die.
I applaud all of the hard work by the Partnership during these past
couple of years and I look forward to continuing our efforts.
The Partnership’s Action Agenda is a roadmap, but that’s all. We
need money for fuel and all of us cooperating behind the wheel if we On the Cover: Larry Bradley, a Squaxin
are going to make this journey. Island tribal member, lifts a chum salmon
during the tribe’s fishery in deep South
Sound. Photo: E. O’Connell (see related
photo, page 8)
The 18 fishers reintroduced into Olympic National Park In late October, the wildlife biologists noted that the fisher’s
(ONP) earlier this year by wildlife biologists were expected tracking device was beginning to malfunction. McCoy set three
to do some roaming. But few expected one of the weasel-like traps within the area of the fisher’s last known location and
animals to journey nearly 60 miles from its Elwha River water- captured it within hours. Makah, ONP and WDFW personnel
shed release site to the Makah Tribe’s reservation in Neah Bay. anesthetized the animal and attached a new radio collar. The
Crossing mountains, rivers and busy roads, the fisher reached animal was released near the capture site the following day.
the Makah Reservation within six months. The wandering fisher is likely to move toward the national
Fishers were trapped to near extinction in Washington by park in search of a mate late this winter. No other fishers have
the 1930s, with pelts fetching up to $150. Weighing up to 12 been released in the Neah Bay area. The reintroduction plan
pounds with dark brown fur, fishers are agile tree climbers confines releases of fishers to Olympic National Park, although
that eat rabbits, mountain beavers, squirrels and birds. State, it is understood the animals may disperse outside ONP.
U.S. and Canadian agencies and non-government conservation Additional males and females will be released in the Hoh
groups worked together to make the reintroduction of the fisher River drainage in ONP, increasing the odds that the wandering
a reality. Neah Bay male will run into a mate. A total of 100 fishers, ob-
All the fishers were fitted with tracking devices. When the tained from British Columbia, ultimately will be released over
traveling fisher was discovered on the Makah Reservation, a three-year period.
Rob McCoy, tribal wildlife biologist, volunteered to help track “The Makah Tribe, as a co-manager of the wildlife resources
its movement. “We are out tracking our radio-collared deer on Olympic Peninsula, is happy to assist with the fisher rein-
and bears as part of our work anyway,” McCoy said. “We re- troduction on the Olympic Peninsula and will continue to work
cord the fisher’s movements and send that information to ONP with ONP and WDFW to ensure the success of the project,”
and the state Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) every McCoy said.
couple of weeks.” Regular updates about the fishers and the reintroduction
“It would have been expensive and time-consuming to track are posted on the WDFW and ONP Web sites at http://wdfw.
one fisher that far out of the area from the rest of them,” said wa.gov/wlm/diversty/soc/fisher/updates.htm and http://www.
Patti Happe, ONP wildlife biologist. “It’s been great to have nps.gov/olym/naturescience/fisher-reintroduction.htm.
the Makah staff assist with this effort.” – D. Preston
Left: Rob McCoy, wildlife biologist for the Makah Tribe holds the
fisher that was found roaming the Makah Reservation. Above: The
anesthetized weasel-like animal is examined and fitted with a new
radio collar. The Makah Tribe helped capture the fisher after its
tracking collar malfunctioned. Photos: Makah Tribe
Tribes, State Share Nooksack Elk Harvest
A limited number of bull elk in the Nooksack herd can be harvested without affecting herd productivity. Photo: D. Preston
Tribal and state wildlife co-managers Suquamish, Swinomish, Tulalip and Up- Twenty years ago, the herd numbered
agreed for a second year to share the har- per Skagit. about 1,700 elk.
vest of 30 bulls from the Nooksack elk “Through cooperation with our state To enhance hunting communication,
herd, which has rebounded as a result of co-managers, we have improved the data-sharing and regulation, Point Elliott
cooperative recovery efforts. management of the Nooksack elk herd,” tribes and the state negotiated a regional
The tribes and the state also have final- said Todd Wilbur, chairman of the In- management agreement for hunting elk
ized a regional plan to continue their suc- ter-Tribal Wildlife Committee for the and other wildlife such as deer, bears and
cessful co-management of wildlife. Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission goats. Separate regional agreements are
Last year marked the first time in 10 and a member of the Swinomish Tribe. being developed between the state and
years the Nooksack elk population was “Working with agencies that care about tribes on the Olympic Peninsula and in
large enough to support harvest without preserving elk is the best way to ensure South Sound.
interfering with herd productivity. State that we have healthy elk herds well into The agreements coordinate hunting
and tribal wildlife biologists determined the future.” seasons, harvest reporting and enforce-
there was an adequate bull-to-cow ratio In the 1990s, Indian and non-Indian ment regulations. The tribes and state
for a limited hunt of 30 bull elk. hunters stopped hunting the Nooksack plan to share research data such as herd
The nine Point Elliott Treaty tribes herd, also known as North Cascades elk. population and mortality estimates – in-
shared 15 permits, and non-tribal hunt- The herd’s numbers were declining rap- formation that is crucial to planning har-
ers were allowed to harvest the other idly, in part because of the loss of habi- vests. Other goals are to promote joint
15 bull elk. The co-managers made the tat. Following restoration efforts by the efforts to increase access to private in-
same agreement this year. The Point El- tribes and the state, the herd recovered dustrial timberlands and provide a forum
liott tribes are Lummi, Nooksack, Muck- from a low of about 300 animals to be- to address issues of mutual concern be-
leshoot, Sauk-Suiattle, Stillaguamish, tween 600 and 700 animals. tween the tribes and the state.
– K. Neumeyer
Puyallup Tribe Opposes Expanded S. Rainier Elk Hunt
The Puyallup Tribe of Indians is opposing a proposed ex- Since 2003, the Puyallup Tribe has taken the lead in moni-
panded hunt on the South Rainier elk herd, which has fewer toring and studying the South Rainier herd. “Information that
than 1,000 animals. we’ve gathered points to a population that is much smaller than
To decrease unwanted human and elk interactions, the state previous estimates,” Moeller said. “The herd can certainly sus-
of Washington has proposed expanding the hunt on antlerless tain hunting, but we should err on the side of caution.”
elk along state Route 12 between Packwood and Morton. The State guidelines require pursuing non-lethal means as a first
tribe is concerned that an expanded harvest could cause the response to problem animals, yet, “It looks like their first pro-
weak elk population to crash. The herd’s target population is posal was to expand hunting,” said Fred Dillon, the tribe’s nat-
more than 2,100. ural resources policy representative. “Elk trampling a garden
The Puyallup Tribe is one of the tribes that co-manage the is not a good reason to doom an entire herd.”
South Rainier herd with the state. Tribal hunters harvest few- He added: “This is an elk herd that needs more habitat, not
er than 10 percent of available elk in the total South Rainier more harvest. The best way to ensure the health of this impor-
herd. tant population is to make sure there is enough food and space
“There is already enough harvest on this herd,” said Bar- for them to live.”
bara Moeller, wildlife biologist for the Puyallup Tribe. “The The tribe has taken the first steps in creating an elk reserve
elk population in the Cowlitz Valley is too small to support in the valley by purchasing 45 acres of bottom land for elk.
more hunting.” – E. O’Connell
Small green buds of clover and winter imals found the
rye poked through a mint-colored coat- meadow, they
ing of wood fiber mulch, less than one came back.”
week after Tulalip Tribes wildlife staff The Tulalip
sprayed the cleared forestland with a Reservation
slurry of seeds, mulch and fertilizer. has about 8,000
“Everything’s germinating; it’s pop- acres of working
ping all over the place,” said Mike Sevi- forestland. When
gny, the tribes’ wildlife manager. too many trees
The burgeoning 3-acre meadow was grow too close to
the second phase of the tribes’ effort to each other, forest
Tulalip Tribes wildlife technician Ross Fenton hydroseeds a 3-acre
create wildlife habitat. Last year, wild- growth is slowed. meadow in the tribe’s forestlands. Photo: K. Neumeyer
life staff hydroseeded 6 acres of clear- Beneath a closed
cut forestland with red and white clover, canopy of 20- to 30-year-old trees, there that eat young cedar trees might be in-
winter rye, chicory and small burnet is little forage opportunity for wildlife. clined to leave the trees alone if they had
– plants that provide high-quality nutri- The result is a population decline of spe- nutritious plants to eat elsewhere.
ents for birds and animals. cies like black-tail deer and grouse. Another population that is served by
Hydroseeding is an efficient way to Tulalip plans to replicate the success of the wildlife meadow is tribal members
convert forestland into a haven for wild- the wildlife meadows off-reservation as themselves.
life, the tribe has found. The seeds ger- well. The wildlife department is work- “I like to go out there and meditate,”
minate more quickly than with tradition- ing with the Stillaguamish Tribe and the said Darrell Enoch, a tribal elder and a
al sowing, and hydroseeding reduces soil Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to cre- fish and wildlife enforcement officer
erosion and keeps seeds moist. ate meadows for North Cascades elk in for Tulalip. “It’s a nice quiet, beautiful
Sevigny said he had expected it to the Hamilton/Lyman area and Concrete. place.” Enoch takes his nephews and
take five years to turn the forest soil into “This is one of our programs of focus grand-nephews there to show them tra-
a meadow attracting animals such as right now – creating enhancement areas ditional uses of plants for medicine and
deer, grouse, red-legged frogs and mice. both on and off the reservation and tea.
But just one year after hydroseeding the maintaining them for long-term use,” “I teach them how to get back if they
meadow, he’s seen all those and more. Sevigny said. get lost,” he said. “They learn the ways
“There are a lot more species than I Wildlife meadows provide alternative of living off the land.” – K. Neumeyer
ever hoped,” Sevigny said. “Once the an- habitat that also benefits forestry – deer
Squaxin Island tribal members Mary (Jackson) Krise, David
Krise and Nita Krise (circa 1945) prepare Pacific clams near
Little Skookum Inlet in the 1940s. Little Skookum is a produc-
tive shellfish bay near the tribe’s reservation.
Photo: Squaxin Island Tribe
Crab Mating Study
Raises New Questions
cent years, they could expect Male crab can fertilize several females
one-third of that in June, and a season and their sperm lasts for two
by October, they’d be lucky years. Males are sexually active for at
to get two or three pounds of least a year before they are big enough
crab per pot. to be caught. In theory, there should be
“Dungeness crab have al- plenty of small males to go around.
ways been managed under But in Hood Canal in 2007, 86 percent
the assumption that all the of the females sampled had been fertil-
males over 6 ¼ inches can ized compared to 98 percent at Everett.
be harvested,” Williams In 2008, only 59 percent of the females
said. “The downward spiral sampled in Hood Canal were fertilized.
of harvest in Hood Canal Scenic Beach had the lowest number
Tom Ostrom, Suquamish Tribe environmental biologist, has raised concerns that the in Hood Canal: 74 percent fertilized in
measures the width of a crab for a study on crab mating traditional management ap-
in Puget Sound. Photo: T. Royal
2007 and just 39 percent in 2008.
proach may not be protective “This study is raising some interest-
While Dungeness crab harvest is of crab populations in all areas.” ing questions: it looks like overharvest,
booming in some areas of Puget Sound, If all the big males are harvested, bi- but other factors may be involved,” Wil-
it’s a bust in Hood Canal. To understand ologists wonder if there will be enough liams said. “We know very little about
why, shellfish managers are taking a left to fertilize the females. In 2007, the the fate of crab larvae as they float in the
second look at traditional crab manage- Suquamish Tribe and Washington De- currents and develop. Are water quality
ment. partment of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) conditions affecting them?”
Between 2000 and 2005, harvesters started studying crab mating success in Funding and project support comes
could expect 15 pounds (30 crab) a pot Hood Canal, Everett and between Ed- from the Suquamish Tribe, King County,
when the season opened in June, said monds and Seattle. In 2008, the James- WDFW and the Jamestown S’Klallam
Paul Williams, the Suquamish Tribe’s town S’Klallam Tribe joined the study, Tribe. – T. Royal
shellfish management biologist. In re- sampling in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Lower Elwha Klallam Rescues Mussels From Dredge
There was a Elwha Klallam Tribe’s hatchery manager.
Left: Small freshwater mussels are re-
sense of urgen- “While they are able to move around a lit- located before the Elwha River dams
cy when tribal, tle bit to find better habitat, the high levels come down starting in 2012. Below:
state and fed- of sediment expected in the river after the Larry Ward, hatchery manager for
eral biolo- dams come down means they’d most likely the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, sorts
gists recently get wiped out. We’re trying to make sure through mussels rescued from a side
channel of the Elwha River.
snorkeled for they’re preserved.” Photos: T. Royal
thousands of The mussels were temporarily stored in
freshwater the tribe’s hatchery raceways before being
mussels along replanted in the Elwha watershed. Overall,
the bottom of a 300-foot-long shallow side divers rescued more than 9,700 mussels.
channel of the Elwha River. A dredge was Recently hatched mussel larvae attach
slated the next day to dig up the side chan- themselves to fish, such as chinook salm-
nel as part of construction of the Elwha on, a common species in the Elwha River.
Water Treatment Facility. After feeding off the gills of host fish for
This mussel rescue was part of the larger a few weeks, the larvae drop off into the
preparation for the removal of the Elwha streambed and continue their develop-
River’s two fish-blocking dams; the 108- ment.
foot-tall Elwha Dam and the 210-foot-tall “The lack of mussels above the dams
Glines Canyon Dam will be removed start- could have something to do with the fact
ing in 2012. The new treatment plant will that there are no salmon above the dams
help filter out river sediment that will be either, because fish can’t get past the tall
released after the dams are removed. structures,” Ward said. “Once the chinook
“Mussels naturally help protect the colonize upriver after the dams are re-
quality of the water because they are fil- moved, we hope to see a population boost
ter feeders,” said Larry Ward, the Lower in mussels and other species too.”
– T. Royal
One Clam Squaxin Island Tribe:
at a Time We Know What We Have
The Squaxin Island to Do to Heal Oakland Bay
Tribe is using an in- Oakland Bay is vital to the ecologic and econom-
novative technique ic health of Mason County, the shellfish and timber
to track how quickly industries and the Squaxin Island Tribe. In fact, the
clams grow in south- original name of Mason County, including Oakland
ern Puget Sound wa- Bay and Hammersley Inlet, was Sa-Heh-Wa-Mish.
ters. Key to restoring Oakland Bay is buy-in from pri-
Tribal biologists are vate landowners to further improve stewardship of
attaching tiny num- our lands and waters to reduce pollution. To do that,
bered red tags to indi- we created the Sa-Heh-Wa-Mish Stewardship Initia-
vidual clams planted tive with our neighbors. The initiative was funded by
on beaches through- a West Coast Estuaries grant from the U.S. Environ-
out South Sound. mental Protection Agency (EPA) to the Squaxin Island
Clam growth typi- Tribe. The effort involves many partners to maximize
cally is measured by resources for the community.
randomly surveying Sustainable shellfish harvest is both the objective of
clams on a beach, but the initiative and measure of success for Oakland Bay.
that technique isn’t This requires the entire Oakland Bay watershed to be
very exact. healthy. The shellfish industry is
“We can track the Shellfish biologist Eric Sparkman digs clams one of the largest employers in
growth of individuals on a test plot near Allyn. Photo: E. O’Connell Mason County; more than $10
and determine how million in shellfish is taken from
overall productivity changes in different parts of a beach,” said Oakland Bay each year, includ-
Eric Sparkman, shellfish biologist for the tribe. “Just simply know- ing more than 3 million pounds
ing that we’re looking at the same clams each time we survey gives of clams and nearly 2 million
us a whole new level of understanding.” high-value oysters. More than
For the past several years, the tribe has been boosting clam popu- 200 tribal harvesters make at
lations to benefit both tribal and sport shellfish harvesters. “Clams least part of their annual income
put on a beach as part of an enhancement project and clams that are in Oakland Bay. Around 2,000
naturally there look exactly the same,” Sparkman said. “Now we recreational harvesters visit the
can get a good idea of how just the planted clams are growing.” bay every year.
Andy Whitener is natural
The colorful plastic tags, which are about the size of the head of Water movement in and out of resources director for the
a pushpin, are handmade by tribal staff and attached to individual Oakland Bay is constrained by Squaxin Island Tribe.
clams with strong glue. the narrow Hammersley Inlet,
Rana Brown, a tribal shellfish technician, developed the tech- which allows water pollution to linger for long peri-
nique to track populations of tiny beach crabs. “We were looking ods. The main sources of pollution in Oakland Bay are
for a way to tag individual crabs as they moved,” Brown said. “The obvious – failing onsite septic systems and livestock
tags had to stay attached even while the crabs were scraping across manure. Nutrients, from lawn fertilizer, for example,
rocks. With clams, the tags can probably stay attached for years.” and stormwater runoff also contribute.
Because of its productive shellfish beaches, southern Puget Immediate solutions for Oakland Bay are far sim-
Sound is important to commercial, recreational and tribal harvest- pler than for the rest of Puget Sound. We don’t have
ers. “Rather than depending on the clams to replenish themselves, low levels of dissolved oxygen and toxic contamina-
we’re helping them along,” Sparkman said. tion is limited. We know what we have to do to fix the
In the last century, harvestable shellfish populations have dimin- problem – we just have to do it.
ished due to development and pollution. “Some of the beaches that The Squaxin Island Tribe has led the way in devel-
we once depended on don’t exist oping credible science to tackle pollution in Oakland
anymore or are inaccessible and Bay. We arranged to work with EPA to use DNA to
can’t support enough shellfish identify fecal bacteria hosts, and we will monitor the
for harvesting,” said Andy Whit- achievements of the Sa-Heh-Wa-Mish Stewardship
ener, natural resources director Initiative.
for the tribe. “By planting clams Oakland Bay is a tremendous opportunity for the
where we can, we’re bringing Puget Sound Partnership. Our energized community
that resource back.” action coalition is ready, willing and able to model
– E. O’Connell a new, collaborative paradigm to clean up Puget
Stillaguamish Tribe Simulates Chinook Redds
eggs. With larger par- ers are measuring suspended solid par-
ticles up to ¼ inch, oxy- ticles in the water at each location.
genated water may get During the first year of the study, in
to the eggs, but newly 2006, Brown found there was a 15 to 66
hatched fry may not be percent chance of survival; in 2007, the
able to emerge from the estimate ranged from 6 to 40 percent.
gravel. “The estimates are based solely on fine
By measuring fine sediment infiltration,” he said. A num-
sediment in the buckets ber of other factors affect the survival
during an “incubation of eggs to emergence, such as flooding,
cycle,” the tribe can es- redd disturbance by other spawning fish
timate survival-to-emer- and other natural factors.
gence rates for naturally This is the final year of a three-year
spawning North Fork project to provide insight on the surviv-
Stillaguamish chinook. al-to-emergence of naturally spawning
“We incubate them North Fork chinook. The impact of fine
from when chinook sediment on chinook redds is listed as
spawn in September a data gap in the Stillaguamish Salmon
and October to when Recovery Plan. – K. Neumeyer
you’d normally expect to
see fry emerge
from gravel in
This fall, Still-
Face down in frigid water, Stillagua- ral Resources staffers dug three
mish biologist Jody Brown arranged artificial redds each at seven lo-
plastic buckets of gravel in the North cations on the North Fork. They
Fork of the Stillaguamish River. buried six buckets in each redd
The 2-quart buckets are artificial and covered them with the clean
salmon nests, or redds, which the tribe gravel that chinook use. Buck-
is using to study the fine sediment that ets will be retrieved at intervals
accumulates in the gravel where salmon throughout the incubation period
spawn. to observe changes in sediment Above: Buckets of gravel are used to simulate chinook
Fine sediment can smother chinook concentration. egg nests. Above left: Biologist Jody Brown (left) and
redds. When small granules fill in the To get a sense of which sites Rick Rogers, field project coordinator, arrange an
space that allows water to flow through are likely to have high sediment artificial redd in the North Fork Stillaguamish River.
gravel, sediment cuts off oxygen to the deposits, natural resources staff- Photos: K. Neumeyer
A chum makes its way to the spawning grounds
in Kennedy Creek.
Because of lower than normal chum returns to
South Sound, the Squaxin Island Tribe closed its
chum fishery to protect returning salmon. Only
after on-the-ground surveys indicated enough
chum had returned did tribal fishermen return to
Photo: Fran Wilshusen, NWIFC
PSE Licensing Project
to Boost Baker Sockeye
The Sauk-Suiattle, Swinom-
ish and Upper Skagit tribes were
among the dozens of stakeholders
that worked on PSE’s relicensing to
ensure protection of fish, wildlife
and cultural resources.
“Our priority was making sure
the sockeye run was restored to a
harvestable amount that actually
meant something for the tribe,” said
Scott Schuyler, natural resources
director for the Upper Skagit Tribe.
“This settlement with PSE will ben-
Left: Staffers at the Baker Lake hatchery
efit the tribe for generations.” collect adult sockeye salmon. Above: Natu-
PSE estimates that it will spend ral migration of adult sockeye is blocked by
$360 million to meet the new li- two dams on the Baker River.
cense provisions and operate the Photos: K. Neumeyer
Baker facility. More than half of PSE’s Baker River Hydroelectric Proj-
The Baker River sockeye run, and that will go to fish-enhancement proj- ect has hindered natural sockeye migra-
those who fish it, will benefit from Puget ects. Key elements include a new hatch- tion for more than 80 years. Adult fish
Sound Energy’s investment of more than ery and new fish passage system around are collected below the Lower Baker
$180 million into the Baker River Hydro- the two Baker River dams. The improve- Dam and trucked either to the hatchery
electric Project. ments, including new artificial spawning or above the Upper Baker Dam to Baker
In October, Puget Sound Energy (PSE) beaches, are designed to quadruple the Lake where they spawn on their own.
received a new 50-year operating license number of juvenile sockeye produced to Before the construction of the Lower
from the Federal Energy Regulatory 14 million. Baker Dam in 1925, the natural sockeye
Commission. The license was issued af- “Buyers pay more for sockeye than oth- run was estimated at about 20,000 fish.
ter years of discussions with interested er salmon,” said Lorraine Loomis, fish- The run was nearing extinction in 1985,
parties, such as tribes, environmental or- eries director for the Swinomish Tribe. when only 99 fish returned. The pre-
ganizations, fisheries interests and other “Enhancing the Baker River sockeye run season forecast for the 2008 return was
governments. is a huge help to tribal fishermen.” 25,000 sockeye salmon. – K. Neumeyer
Fraser River Sockeye Run Declared Fishery Disaster
Fraser River sockeye returns have been increasingly poor for S’Klallam, Lower Elwha Klallam, Nooksack, Makah, Port
several years, prompting the Lummi Nation and other treaty Gamble S’Klallam, Suquamish, Swinomish and Tulalip.
tribes to ask the federal government to declare a fishery disas- In the 1990s, sockeye numbers were plentiful and prices were
ter. high, making the fish an important part of tribal fishermen’s in-
U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez made the dec- come, but the run began a steep decline in 1999.
laration in November and allocated $2 million dollars to be “It’s been a disaster for several years now,” said Lorraine
shared by state commercial fishermen and the northwest Wash- Loomis, fisheries director for the Swinomish Tribe and tribal
ington treaty tribes that fish Fraser River sockeye. representative to the Pacific Salmon Commission, which man-
The tribes agreed to divide the money based on historical ages the Fraser sockeye run for the United States and Canada.
catch records, but plan to petition for more money. “We need to Poor ocean conditions, shifting currents and climate change
look at this as a partial remedy,” said Lummi Chairman Henry are blamed as potential causes for the run’s decline. This is the
Cagey. “With more than 600 fishermen, Lummi is the tribe second time Fraser River sockeye were declared a fishery re-
most affected by the failure of the run; we need $5 million just source disaster. A similar determination was made in 2002.
to compensate our fishermen.” The failure of the fishery is detrimental to all tribal mem-
Fraser River sockeye originate in British Columbia. Nine bers, not just the fishermen who depend on the income, Loomis
treaty tribes in western Washington have treaty-reserved rights said.
to catch them in U.S. waters before they migrate upstream. “Our people are so hungry for sockeye, and we couldn’t even
The Fraser River sockeye treaty tribes are Lummi, Jamestown get any for the table,” she said. – K. Neumeyer
Reaches Egg Goal
The Puyallup Tribe’s Clarks Creek return to the river
salmon hatchery has reached its goal of in a few years.”
collecting 1.1 million chinook eggs for In addition to
the first time since it opened four years releasing fish from
ago. the hatchery itself,
“We’ll be running at full capacity this the tribe also uses
winter and spring,” said Blake Smith, the young fish
enhancement biologist for the Puyallup from Clarks Creek
Tribe. As in most hatcheries, more than to repopulate the
90 percent of the eggs will survive to be upper Puyallup
released, translating into 1 million juve- River watershed.
nile hatchery salmon swimming out into Each spring, the
the Puyallup River early next summer. tribe trucks thou-
“When they return as adults in a few sands of juvenile
years, these fish will be a big part of chinook to three
fisheries for both tribal and non-tribal acclimation ponds
fishermen, providing increased opportu- in the upper Puy-
nity,” Smith said. allup.
The hatchery features rearing ponds “This stretch
that mimic natural salmon habitat with of river has been Dan Sandstrom, a fisheries technician with the Puyallup Tribe,
hoists a chinook from a pond at the Clarks Creek hatchery.
tree rootwads and gravel. These features open to salmon Photo: E. O’Connell
help young chinook develop better sur- since 2000 when
vival skills. a fish ladder was built around Electron gate. “If there are more hatchery fish to
“Fish born in the wild develop instincts Dam,” Smith said. “By putting juvenile catch in the lower river, fishing pressure
that help them find food and avoid being chinook up there, we’re giving the run moves away from where wild fish are,”
eaten,” Smith said. “Unfortunately, this up there a jump start.” Smith said. “Getting wild chinook into
isn’t something we see a lot of in hatch- Now that the facility is working at full the upper watershed to spawn is a prior-
ery fish raised in featureless cement capacity, there will be more hatchery fish ity for the tribe.” – E. O’Connell
ponds. The more salmon learn to survive available for harvest in the lower river,
in the wild, the more hatchery fish will away from where wild chinook congre-
Sport Fishermen Benefit from Short Tribal Fishery
Sharp cuts in fishing by the Puyallup Tribe of Indians this ing to the Puyallup this year will be hatchery fish. “With large
year allowed sport fishermen to start fishing for chinook on numbers of hatchery fish available, it’s easy for sport fisher-
the Puyallup River two weeks early. men to sort wild and hatchery fish.”
“The tribe was off the water more this year to reduce im- “Unlike in saltwater mixed stock areas, where there are doz-
pacts on returning chinook, and this gave more opportunity ens of stocks present, terminal areas like rivers are very effec-
for sport fishermen,” said Chris Phinney, the tribe’s salmon tive places to have selective sport fisheries,” he said.
fisheries management biologist. The cuts by the tribe were While sport and non-treaty commercial fishermen can chase
agreed to last spring during the tribal and state salmon fisher- productive runs of salmon around the region, tribal fishermen
ies management process. are bound by treaty to fish only in certain areas.
The Puyallup Tribe has been reducing its in-river chinook “The Puyallup Tribe has an inherent interest in seeing more
fishery for the past several years to protect returning wild chi- salmon return to the Puyallup River because this is our home
nook. This is the second year the tribe will have no directed river,” said Herman Dillon Jr., chair of the tribe’s fish commis-
chinook fishery. sion. “If salmon don’t return here, we lose an important part of
Sport anglers on the Puyallup are required to release wild our way of life.”
chinook, decreasing impact to the stock. “Fisheries have been constricted because the wild salmon
“This kind of selective fishery works best in places like the we’re trying to protect don’t have much habitat to return to,”
lower Puyallup River where there are a lot of hatchery fish and Dillon said. “The first step in ensuring there are strong salmon
very few wild fish,” Phinney said. Tribal and state co-manag- fisheries in the future is making sure there is good habitat for
ers estimate that more than 80 percent of the chinook return- salmon.” – E. O’Connell
Right: Bernard Afterbuf-
falo, Hoh tribal fisheries compare it to the ge-
technician, holds a fin clip netic structure of the
sample of a Hoh steel- present wild steel-
head that will be analyzed head.
for its genetic structure.
Photo: D. Preston
are reared in the Cook
The Hoh Tribe is Creek National Fish
conducting a study to Hatchery southwest
determine the genetic of Lake Quinault and
relationships between released every May
today’s Hoh River native several miles above
steelhead and hatchery the Hoh Tribe’s res-
steelhead. The genetic ervation. The peak
study will reveal the ex- of the hatchery run
tent to which a hatchery run
of steelhead that shares the
river has affected the genetic
Hoh Tribe Studies is in December, while the
peak of the wild run is in
March, with some overlap
structure of the native steel-
An additional goal of the
Steelhead Family Tree between runs. The ma-
jority of the Hoh Tribe’s
steelhead fishing efforts
study is to determine the genetic origin of steelhead that stray are targeted on the hatch-
into the Hoh from other rivers and whether they have contrib- ery stock.
uted genetics to the native stock. While the tribe is focused on steelhead, samples of coho and
“We need to know the answers to these questions to make chinook are being taken when possible as part of the coopera-
future management decisions,” said Joe Gilbertson, fisheries tive study with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
manager for the Hoh Tribe. (WDFW) and Olympic National Park.
The genetic data needed for the study comes from a small fin “We want to maintain a healthy native stock,” said Gilb-
clip collected from steelhead caught by treaty tribal and non- ertson. “Collecting this genetic information is critical to de-
Indian sport fishermen. Later in the study, as funding allows, termining how past hatchery practices have influenced the
the tribe also will take genetic material collected from wild current genetic composition of the Hoh River wild steelhead
steelhead prior to the hatchery steelhead influence (1980) and population.” – D. Preston
A black-tail deer pauses from
browsing in the Hoh River water-
shed in the quiet of late fall.
Black-tail deer are important for
ceremonial and subsistence uses
to coastal tribes. Browsing plants,
black-tail deer must survive the
winter without hibernating. By
June, females at least a year old
can birth a set of twins.
Photo: D. Preston
Reclaimed for Coho
The Nisqually Indian Tribe is helping to remove the reed canary
a local landowner reclaim a stretch of grass, but was never able
Tanwax Creek for salmon. to get a handle on the prob-
Tribal technicians, volunteers and lem.
school groups are clearing a 5-acre in- “I wanted to try to re-
festation of reed canary grass along the store the wetlands down
creek, allowing coho salmon to access there,” Tucker said. “This
important habitat on James Tucker’s is the property that I have;
property. I might as well try to make
The tribe is using a grant from the it better.”
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation After initial mowing, vol-
paired with funds that Tucker is receiv- unteers will plant a variety
ing from the Natural Resources Conser- of native trees and shrubs
vation Service to buy and plant native that will eventually prevent
plants that will eventually out-compete the grass from growing
the invasive grass. back. Tribal employees and
The lower five miles of Tanwax Creek volunteers will periodical-
is infested with reed canary grass that ly visit Tucker’s property Rachel Simmons, a restoration technician with the
blocks salmon migration and spawn- to check the plants and Nisqually Tribe, pounds in a willow stake during a restora-
ing. Imported to the area decades ago mow the area if needed. tion project on Tanwax Creek. Photo: E. O’Connell
as cattle feed, reed canary infestation is Coho salmon will espe-
a common obstacle for salmon in small cially benefit from increased access to natural resources director for the tribe.
streams. habitat in Tanwax Creek. “Coho prefer these kinds of small trib-
When Tucker bought the property four “Coho habitat is pretty limited in the utaries to the main river, like Tanwax
years ago, he immediately began trying Nisqually watershed,” said David Troutt, Creek.” – E. O’Connell
Tribe Watches Where the Water Flows in Ohop Valley
The Nisqually Tribe is studying how a habitat restoration By altering the creek, the settlers also made the valley less
project might impact groundwater in the Ohop Creek Valley. absorbent to rainwater.
The tribe is placing peizometers – small wells that measure “Now whenever it rains in the valley, water quickly rushes
groundwater flow and pressure – throughout the valley floor. out,” Troutt said. “Fast-flowing water in the creek at any point
Originally the Ohop Valley was a much wetter place than isn’t good for salmon.”
today. To clear the valley for farming, wetlands were drained “We’re taking a look at what the groundwater is doing now,
by channeling most of Ohop Creek. so we can see how much it improves later,” Troutt said.
“While the farmers were able to drain most of the valley Over the next few years, the tribe and the South Puget Sound
floor, they made the creek less hospitable to fish,” said David Salmon Enhancement Group will dig a new channel for Ohop
Troutt, the tribe’s natural resources director. Creek, providing better habitat for salmon.
The channelized creek dries out the valley in the summer.
“There is less water stored in the valley floor, so when there
isn’t rain to recharge the creek, it becomes shallower and
warmer,” Troutt said. “These aren’t good conditions for fish.”
“There really isn’t anywhere for fish to go in Ohop Creek. It
went from a shallow, meandering stream that was very good
for salmon to a straight deep ditch,” Troutt said. “By restor-
ing the creek, we’ll not only provide more habitat to salmon,
but change the flow of the water underground that is better for
salmon and people.” – E. O’Connell
Jesse Barham, a restoration biologist wih the Nisqually Tribe, mea-
sures water level and pressure along the bottom of the Ohop Val-
ley. Photo: E. O’Connell
Seeking Coho in Sherwood Creek
The Squaxin Island Tribe is taking a understanding of how the watershed
close look at where coho salmon live in supports wild coho.
the Sherwood Creek watershed. Coho depend on freshwater habitat would constrict our fisheries to protect a
Biologists from the tribe and the South more so than any other species of salmon weak run of wild coho,” said Joe Peters,
Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement because they spend more than one year the tribe’s fisheries biologist. Because
Group are looking for juvenile coho by in freshwater. the tribe’s fishery stays away from the
snorkeling stretches of the stream and its The tribe has a solid estimate of the inlets where wild coho congregate, its
main tributary, Schumacher Creek. total juvenile coho population in Sher- catch comprises more than 94 percent
They’ll compare the number of fish wood because they count out-migrating hatchery fish.
they see with data from temperature salmon with a trap near the mouth of the “The best way to make sure there’s
monitoring and habitat surveys. “We’re creek. “We know pretty much how many enough coho for everyone is to protect
not just trying to find where the fish are, salmon leave the system every year, but and restore the habitat they depend on,”
but we’re also trying to figure out why that doesn’t give us a good idea of where said Andy Whitener, natural resources
they’re here and how well they’re do- the important rearing habitat is,” Haque director for the Squaxin Island Tribe.
ing,” said Sarah Haque, the tribe’s Tim- said. – E. O’Connell
ber/Fish/Wildlife biologist. By monitor- Wild coho production is central to the
Above: Scott Steltzner, research biologist
ing the creek’s temperature and looking tribe’s salmon management planning. for the Squaxin Island Tribe, looks for ju-
closely at what kind of habitat the fish “Even though the tribe focuses its fish- venille coho inside a logjam on Sherwood
prefer, the researchers will get a better eries on abundant hatchery coho, we Creek. Photo: E. O’Connell
Hoh Tribe Guards Water Quality
Sunlight glints off the cold, clear water of Owl Creek near the Hoh Tribe’s reser-
vation on the Olympic Peninsula. On the surface, water quality and quantity don’t
appear to be a concern. The Hoh Tribe, however, knows that the lower reaches of 10
streams in the Hoh River watershed frequently exceed the 61-degree state standard
for fish survival.
Tribal staff regularly monitor a variety of water quality indicators in the Hoh River
watershed, including temperature, dissolved oxygen and turbidity. The tribe also re-
cords base flow levels for some streams, creating a record that protects fish and tribal
water rights into the future.
“Folks who don’t spend much time out this way assume we don’t have any water
quality issues because there isn’t much development,” said Warren Scarlett, water
quality and habitat biologist for the Hoh Tribe. “Our water quality problems come
from too much sediment in the water and increased temperatures that threaten fish
Too much sediment can suffocate salmon eggs while 70-degree or higher water
temperatures make fish more susceptible to disease or kill them outright. Sediment
can also prevent young fish from emerging from the gravel and impair their ability
to feed by reducing visibility and killing aquatic insects they eat. Extensive road
systems used to access timber sales continue to deliver a large amount of sediment
to streams in the Hoh River watershed. Stream temperatures frequently range higher
from reduced shade along streams as well as disrupted delivery of cooling ground-
water due to timber harvest activity.
FIsheries technician Bernard Afterbuffalo Each spring since 1999, the tribe has installed thermographs in tributaries of the
reads the flow of a creek in the Hoh River Hoh River. This year, 48 thermographs were deployed on 45 different streams. Tem-
watershed as part of the Hoh Tribe’s long- perature readings are recorded every half hour, downloaded to computers and shared
term water quality and quantity testing.
Photo: D. Preston with the state and federal agencies as needed. – D. Preston
Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe
Chum Spawning in Jimmycomelately Creek
Threatened Hood Canal summer chum salmon have been head upstream to
spawning successfully in the restored area of Jimmycomelate- spawn naturally.
ly Creek. The proof is in this year’s returns – some of the adults Fertilized eggs are
are offspring of the first salmon that spawned in the restored kept at Hurd Creek
channel of the creek in 2005. Hatchery for sev-
These returns can be attributed directly to the habitat res- eral weeks before
toration that’s taken place in the creek, said Scott Chitwood, they are returned to
Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s natural resources director. the creek in late Oc-
The tribe and the Washington Department of Fish and Wild- tober. The eggs are
life (WDFW) also kept at two remote
have seen success incubators on the
from the summer creek. In February,
chum supplementa- when the salmon
tion program they have reached the
started in 1999 for fry stage, they are
the creek. From just moved into tanks by
seven chum return- the volunteers and
ing in 1999, more fed, then released in
than 1,000 have re- late March or early
turned this year. April.
The program is The hours the vol-
largely dependent unteers put in are
on its volunteers, immense. In 2007,
which are led by more than 800 vol- Eyed eggs from this fall’s Jimmycomelately
WDFW’s Cheri unteer hours were Creek chum spawning. Photo: T. Royal
Scalf. Volunteers logged.
collect nearly 40 “If it weren’t for this group of volunteers and Cheri’s en-
Volunteer Ted Shanks checks on chum pairs of returning ergy, I don’t think the program would be as successful as it has
eggs at a remote incubation site near Jim- adult chum and been,” Chitwood said.
mycomelately Creek. Photo: T. Royal spawn them. More The program will end in 2010, when the run is expected to be
than 900 adults self-sustaining. – T. Royal
Tribes, Agencies Learn From ‘The Jimmy Project’
Consider it a “how-to” guide for the said Byron Rot, Jamestown S’Klallam included diverting and rerouting the
next great habitat restoration project. Tribe’s habitat program manager and a creek back to its historic path; removing
It’s been two years since the Jimmy- co-author of the report. remnants of an old log yard and restor-
comelately Creek restoration project was The idea for restoring the 15.4-square- ing the estuary; and replacing two small
completed. But the work didn’t end then mile ecosystem started in late 1996, fol- culverts with a new bridge on Highway
– the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe recent- lowing a massive rainstorm that flooded 101 to allow for proper flooding and fish
ly released a 72-page report explaining the creek, Old Blyn Highway and High- and wildlife passage.
how the 10-year, $7 million project was way 101 near the tribal center. Within The report is broken down into 14 sec-
started, the challenges it faced and what days, discussions began about how to tions, detailing the work that was put into
it took to complete it. And more impor- correct the resulting chronic flooding every step, including partnership devel-
tantly, it provides suggestions on how to and habitat problems. These conversa- opment, communication techniques,
deal with large-scale, multi-agency res- tions evolved into what became the “The engineering and design, property ac-
toration projects. Jimmy Project.” quisition, permitting and monitoring of
Not a technical report, the document, During the eight years it took to com- the finished product. Each chapter ends
Jimmycomelately Ecosystem Restora- plete the four-phase project, the tribe and with a “Lessons Learned” section, rec-
tion – Lessons Learned Report, spells their partners, including local property ommending how to approach the chal-
out the ups and downs of the project in owners, Clallam County Conservation lenges of each step and what could have
an interesting and readable format. District, Clallam County, Washington been done differently. The report can be
“It’s a good tool for a community departments of Transportation and Fish found on the tribe’s Web site at www.
group, non-profit or an agency looking to and Wildlife, and U.S. Fish and Wild- jamestowntribe.org, under “Programs”
do a restoration project, or even a college life Service, restored the creek and its – “Natural Resources” – “Jimmycome-
student interested in habitat restoration,” estuary to a more natural state. Work lately Restoration.” – T. Royal
Tribe Helps Salmon
Internal Resources at Work Find Resting Areas
The Lummi Nation drew
on its own resources during Juvenile salmon will have more room to
an instream habitat improve- roam in the Nisqually watershed, thanks to
ment project last summer a $75,000 contribution from the Nisqually
in Bells Creek. Technician Tribe.
Chris Phair, a tribal member The tribe’s gift to the Nisqually Land
who had previous experi- Trust covered the purchase of an old log-
ence with heavy equipment, ging road that paralleled the Nisqually Riv-
operated the excavator that er and was removed last fall. Removing the
placed more than 50 pieces road opened 300
of large wood in 400 feet of acres of valuable
the channel of Bells Creek, a off-channel habi-
tributary to the North Fork tat to salmon. A
Nooksack River. series of culverts
“Having Lummi Natural under the road
Resources staff at the con- had been a par-
trols is an important step for tial barrier to fish
us because we are develop- access.
ing our internal capacity “The Nisqually
rather than hiring a contrac- Tribe has al-
tor,” said Jim Hansen, res- ways depended
toration coordinator for the on salmon, so
tribe. we have an in-
The Whatcom Land Trust herent interest
contracted with the tribe to in more salmon
assess and improve the habi- returning to our
tat on the property, which Rootwads placed in Bells Creek are expected to watershed,” said
the trust acquired through a help establish good salmon habitat. Cynthia Iyall,
Photo: K. Neumeyer Nisqually tribal
Salmon Recovery Funding
Board grant. Lummi Natural Resources determined that placing a large wood chair. “Salmon
structure in the North Fork habitat along the property would not be a good use recovery won’t
of public funding at this time, but salmon habitat could be improved by plac- happen without
ing wood in Bells Creek. A history of removing wood and straightening the these sorts of
channel for flood control left the creek devoid of the cover and pools needed projects going
by salmon. forward.”
Using Land Trust-derived Salmon Recovery Funding Board funds and a Pa- “This Powell
Kim Grindley, a project
cific Salmon Commission grant, geologist Michael Maudlin, along with tribal Creek project will manager with the South
technicians Phair, Frank open the largest Puget Sound Salmon En-
Bob and Collin Bob, placed off-channel wet- hancment Group, surveys
wood in and along the land complex on a fish-blocking culvert pri-
creek to restore woody cov- the entire river,” or to a restoration project
er without backing up flow said George Wal- on Powell Creek.
Photo: E. O’Connell
in the channel. The pieces ter, chairman of
of wood were clustered to the Nisqually Land Trust.
scour covered pools for The land trust is a local non-profit whose
spawning bull trout, steel- mission is to conserve and restore natural
head and coho salmon. areas and wildlife habitat throughout the
The tribe also designed Nisqually River watershed and to protect
a project to establish a ri- those lands in perpetuity.
parian buffer on two acres “Off-channel habitat is rich in food that
along the creek near its salmon need, such as aquatic insects,” Wal-
confluence with the North ter said. “If young salmon are to survive to
Fork, and plant conifer come back as adults, off-channel habitat is
Chris Phair, Lummi tribal technician, positions a vital.” – E. O’Connell
rootwad in Bells Creek. Photo: K. Neumeyer
trees within 17 acres of ex-
isting hardwood stands.
– K. Neumeyer
Handle With Care
Top: Dahni Buesch, Lonesome Creek Hatchery manager for the Quileute
Tribe (right), sorts eggs with state Department Fish and Wildlife fisheries
technician John Larson.
Upper Right: Fungus on the dead and dying eggs can harm healthy
Lower Right: Brent Ramsey, Quileute fisheries technician, removes
dead (white) chinook eggs at the state’s Sol Duc Hatchery.
Photos: D. Preston