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Weekly Fish and Wildlife News
November 20, 2009
Issue No. 509

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Table of Contents
* Redden Letters Pose Procedural, Substantive Questions For Monday's BiOp Hearing
* Project Tests Methods To Improve Monitoring, Track Effectiveness Of Salmon Habitat Restoration
* Migrating Flathead Basin Lake Trout Threatening Bull Trout Populations
* Pend Oreille Commission Issues Concerns Over Lake Fluctuations, Stresses Monitoring
* Washington's New Fee For Salmon Anglers To Support Selective Fisheries Efforts
* Report Suggests Public Wants 'Go Slow' Approach On Wave Energy In Northwest
* Alaska 2009 Commercial Salmon Harvest Below 10-year Average (1999-2008)
* Ocean As 'Natural Sink' Not Keeping Pace With Carbon Dioxide Emissions
* Montana Wolf Hunt Ends With Total Of 72 Killed, 15 Percent Of Statewide Population
* Video Shows Wolf Pack Of At Least 10 Wolves In Wallowa County
* House Passes Bill Designating Mollalla River As Wild And Scenic, Holds Listed Chinook
* Study: 36 Percent Of World's Fisheries Catch Feeds Farmed Fish, Chickens, Pigs
* Corps' Northwestern Division Gets New Commander                                               

* Redden Letters Pose Procedural, Substantive Questions For Monday's BiOp Hearing

A pair of missives issued over the past week by U.S. District Court Judge James A. Redden note progress in the attempt to produce a legal strategy that avoids jeopardizing the survival of salmon and steelhead stock that negotiate the Columbia-Snake river hydro system.

But he still has concerns as well.

Litigants in the long-running lawsuit will gather Monday to give their views on "procedural" issues raised by the judge and "substantive" issues raised by Redden and critics of the federal plan.

The judge has in the past rejected Federal Columbia River Power System biological opinions completed by NOAA Fisheries Service in 2000 and 2004. The BiOps described mitigation actions both within the federal hydro system and off-site that NOAA determined would improve fish survivals enough avoid jeopardy and lift toward recovery salmon and steelhead that are listed under the Endangered Species Act.

A new BiOp developed by NOAA Fisheries in consultation with federal action agencies and in collaboration with Columbia River basin states and tribes was completed in May 2008, and was immediately challenged by a coalition of fishing and conservation groups and the state of Oregon. They faulted the BiOp's biological jeopardy analysis and said strategy "is riddled with errors, consistently optimistic assumptions, and a disregard for relevant information."

Legal arguments appeared to have ended on March 6 with Redden expressing several concerns about the legality of the 2008 BiOp. Within a month of those oral arguments, the judge called the legal combatants to a conference and won the commitment of the federal defendants, Oregon, the coalition and the Nez Perce Tribe (which has sided with the plaintiffs) to jointly explore all "possible legal avenues" for resolving the matter.

The judge on May 1 received a request from the Obama Administration that it be allowed to review the BiOp, which was developed by the prior administration. Redden approved the request and in a May 18 outlined what he felt was wrong with the BiOp and what might be done to correct it.

The administration announced on Sept. 15 that it had determined that the science underlying the BiOp is fundamentally sound, but that there are uncertainties in some predictions regarding the future condition of the listed species. As a result, the administration developed an "insurance policy for the fish" as part of the BiOp. The "Adaptive Management Implementation Plan" added to the overall strategy a number of contingency measures to be implemented in case of a significant decline in fish abundance.

The AMIP outlines "accelerated and enhanced actions" to protect the species, such as estuary habitat restoration, efforts to control predators and invasive species, and biologically-based changes to spring and summer spill, which provides downstream fish passage, at the hydro projects. It includes enhanced research and monitoring to improve the certainty of the information needed for decision making, and to address uncertainties or the potential for unanticipated changes.

It defines signals that would trigger rapid response contingency actions and long-term actions to improve fish survival. Those contingencies include additional hydro operations, increased predator controls, certain harvest controls, safety-net hatcheries, as well as lower Snake River dam breaching as a contingency of last resort.

Judge Redden then called for legal briefs about the new document.

In a Nov. 13 letter to the litigants he said he was "encouraged by Federal Defendants' efforts to address the court's concerns regarding the 2008 Biological Opinion ('2008 BiOp'), but I am concerned that their unilateral, post-decisional development of 'enhanced and accelerated' mitigation actions, 'enhanced' research, monitoring, and evaluation, and 'new' biological triggers and contingency actions may run afoul of the well-established rules of 'record review' under the Administrative Procedure Act ('APA')."

The letter includes a set of questions related to the AMIP.

"May the court lawfully consider the AMIP in ruling on the pending motions for summary judgment? Is the AMIP part of the BiOp, or an impermissible post hoc rationalization?"

"I noted in my May 18, 2009 letter to counsel that the 2008 BiOp appears to be flawed," the judge wrote. "Despite the AMIP's positive attributes, I have serious concerns about whether it is properly before the court.

"Federal Defendants need to persuade me that it is, or take the steps necessary to include it in the BiOp. I am still hopeful that Federal Defendants can make this BiOp work, but they cannot sidestep the requirements of the APA."

A letter sent to the litigants on Wednesday focused on " substantive issues raised by the" AMIP. It too posed questions that the judge wants to be discussed on Monday during the hearing in Portland. They include:

-- "The State of Oregon, the National Wildlife Federation Plaintiffs, and the Nez Perce Tribe are not satisfied with the AMIP. Do they acknowledge that the AMIP contains positive measures that would enhance the 2008 BiOp?

-- "Setting aside the plaintiffs' arguments regarding the jeopardy framework (i.e., 'trending toward recovery'), what additional measures do they suggest that Federal Defendants implement? As a practical matter, what more can Federal Defendants do?

-- "Federal Defendants claim that if Early Warning Indicators or Significant Decline Triggers are tripped, they will implement 'on-the-shelf' rapid response actions that will provide immediate benefit to the species. What are those actions? In light of the Endangered Species Act ('ESA') mandate that the agencies give first priority to the species, why not implement those measures now?"

Both letters discuss an issue raised by the plaintiffs, who on Sept. 25 asked the judge to require that the federal defendants provide information regarding their summertime consultation with independent scientists regarding the BiOp.

That filing said that AMIP documents describe a July 7-8 workshop at which agency personnel presented "the work underlying recovery planning and the specific analyses used in the 2008 BiOp, followed by discussion time among the independent scientists on the five areas identified." But the documents did not portray the views of the independent scientists.

The federal defendants in a Sept. 30 filing with the court opposed the motion, saying it is illegal at this point in time to add to the record in the lawsuit. The federal response says "Judicial review under the Administration is generally limited to the administrative record in existence at the time of the decision," that decision being the May 2008 BiOp.

"The documents produced by Federal Defendants for in camera review crystalize the procedural problems presented by the AMIP. If the AMIP were part of the BiOp, it is clear that at least some of these (and perhaps additional) supporting documents should be part of the Administrative Record. How do Federal Defendants justify withholding these materials from public review?" the judge asked in his Nov. 13 letter.

"We have come a long way since the 2004 BiOp. In many ways, we have come full circle. Federal Defendants have finally made a good faith effort to address the flaws in the 2000 BiOp; they deserve credit for working with local, tribal, and state entities to attempt to ensure that this BiOp's tributary and estuary habitat mitigation measures are reasonably certain to occur.

"Federal Defendants can do more to ensure that those habitat actions are reasonably certain to result in the predicted benefits," Redden wrote. "The AMIP suggests that they agree."

"After we discuss whether the AMIP is properly before the court, I want the parties to focus on its positive attributes, and suggest additional measures to further improve the BiOp (through negotiation, or the appropriate procedural avenues)."

For more information and documents related to BiOp litigation go to www.salmonrecovery.gov


* Project Tests Methods To Improve Monitoring, Track Effectiveness Of Salmon Habitat Restoration

The eternal quest to determine how, and if, habitat restoration actions affect the status of imperiled Columbia River basin salmon is taking wings in three intensively monitored watersheds.

"The past two years have really been the big ramp up," Chris Jordan of NOAA Fisheries' Northwest Fisheries Science Center said of a project that began in 2003 and gained momentum and greater funding as a result of the May 2008 Federal Columbia River Power System biological opinion.

The Integrated Status and Effectiveness Monitoring Project aims to develop two novel monitoring and evaluation programs -- tracking on a subbasin-scale the status and trends of salmon and their habitat in the Wenatchee, John Day and Salmon river basins and tracking the effectiveness that suites of habitat restoration projects in selected watersheds have on the populations.

The study is designed to test the robustness of monitoring protocols, indicator metrics, and sampling designs now being used in the basin and develop tools to facilitate effective data analysis, management and communication.

ISEMP was initiated in 2003 with funding from the Bonneville Power Administration in response to the need for status, trend and effectiveness monitoring called for in the 2000 BiOp. The BiOp has over the years been updated, as have the goals of the study, to put more focus on the biological benefit that particular habitat restoration actions bring to salmon populations.

In October crews in Idaho installed a new antenna in the South Fork of the Salmon River east of McCall that adds to the largest fish-monitoring network of its kind in the world, according to the November BPA Journal. The array consists of a 120-foot-long line of six fiberglass panels that house antenna wiring and lie flat on the riverbed. As fish cross over the panels, the antenna array silently picks up codes from tiny electronic tags implanted in juvenile and adult fish.

A transmitter then sends the codes by satellite into a Portland-based database that collects similar data from other tracking arrays at dams, fish hatcheries and in rivers across the Northwest. The mass of data collected from the new array, other arrays installed in the three subbasins specifically for the study and from other systems in place for other studies will be analyzed over time in order to plot status of the species and how that status changes in response to habitat restoration actions.

Since the research began 25 of the arrays have been installed in the three subbasins, including one in the Wenatchee River in central Washington that matches the size -- the largest technologically possible -- of the new Salmon River receiver. Some stream data via satellite on the comings and goings of salmon; others have to be read manually on site.

The effort is led by Jordan's NWFSC team but involves nearly 40 contracts with Columbia basin tribes, state and federal agencies, academic institutions and private consultants. The budget in fiscal year 2009, which ended Sept. 30, was $4.5 million. The budget for the FY2010 is $4.7 million. Overall BPA pegs the project's expense budget at $17 million for 2004-2009.

The intensive monitoring in the Wenatchee and Entiat watersheds in Washington, John Day in Oregon and South Fork Salmon and Lemhi River basins in Idaho has an overall goal of providing regional salmon management agencies with the data, information and tools necessary to design efficient and effective monitoring programs.

The 2008 BiOp added emphasis to the need to know how salmon and steelhead populations are doing and how well BiOP mitigation actions are working. The NOAA Fisheries BiOp judges whether the federal hydrosystem is jeopardizing 13 salmon and steelhead stocks that are listed under the Endangered Species.

The BiOp in its "reasonable and prudent alternative" describes more than 70 actions ranging from estuary and tributary habitat and passage improvements to work at the dams to be carried out as means of improving fish survival. Five of them are directed at improving status and effectiveness monitoring.

Over the years there has been considerable effort and money devoted to the monitoring of salmonid population and habitat status in the Columbia River basin that developed through a variety of projects and objectives. But, the region lacks a common systematic approach to the implementation of population and habitat status and effectiveness monitoring and a systematic approach to the design and assessment of these monitoring activities.

The data management tools and products developed through ISEMP will be designed to integrate with on going regional efforts to standardize protocols and meta-data and develop distributed data management systems.

Through ISEMP researchers hope to develop watershed scale restoration experiments that are designed to "maximize the effect size of restoration actions by identifying and controlling for critical confounding factors, by identifying actions strategies that address critical process limitations, and by implementing the actions in an experimental context that maximizes the information content of the monitoring."

"It's not impossible but it's difficult" to measure the benefits that restoration actions provide, Jordan said.

The information is needed to guide ESA management because there is the expectation that "mitigation strategies must have a demonstrable effect," he said. "If they don't, they need to be replaced."

The research is strategically focused in three subbasins that are geographically distinct. Three of the research antennas are now in place in the Entiat River basin and seven are seven in the Wenatchee River watershed, eight are in the John Day River system and three are in the Lemhi River basin. Idaho's South Fork of the Salmon River now has four arrays.

The emphasis is on evaluating survival of fish from birth until they leave their natal waters on the migration to the Pacific Ocean. The fish typically hatch in March-May and the researchers begin trapping and implanting age 0 salmon in June or July.

"We try to tag fish year round" and at numerous locations in each watershed," Jordan said.

"This is 10 to 20 years of work we're starting," Jordan said of the need to collect a wide range of data over time and space so that analyses can separate the many variables that can cause changes in stock status and trends.


* Migrating Flathead Basin Lake Trout Threatening Bull Trout Populations

Recent spawning surveys indicate most of Glacier National Park's west-side bull trout populations are teetering towards extinction, but an aggressive netting project in one lake was successful in suppressing invading lake trout.

There are 17 lakes on the west side of the park that have historically supported bull trout and 10 have been invaded by lake trout migrating upstream from Montana's North Fork Flathead River and the Flathead Lake ecosystem.

"Nine of those have been overwhelmed (by lake trout) to a point where those bull trout populations are on the brink of extinction," said Clint Muhlfeld, a U.S. Geological Survey fisheries biologist who is based in the park.

Surveys of bull trout "redds," or spawning beds have been concentrated on streams above lakes in the park. Not all known bull trout populations are monitored in the park, mainly because of adverse weather and the remoteness of backcountry spawning streams.

"Looking at the redd count data things don't look good for a number of them," said Chris Downs, the park's fisheries biologist. "That's the trend that is unfortunately unfolding in the large, west-side lakes."

Downs noted that redd counts in streams above most of the lakes didn't start until 2002, and by that time the impacts of invading lake trout were well under way.

This year's survey above Logging Lake detected no redds, compared to five last year.

Logging Lake supported a productive bull trout population before lake trout were detected in 1984.

No redds have been counted upstream from Bowman Lake since 2007, and only one redd was found above Harrison Lake this year.

With five redds counted upstream, tiny Akokala Lake had the highest count on the west side this year with the exception of Quartz Lake, Downs said.

Although west-side spawning surveys are relatively new, previous gill net sampling in the lakes has provided a picture of what has transpired over time.
In 1977, no lake trout were detected in any of the west-side lakes, Down said.

Fast-forward to 2000 gill net sampling that found a ratio of two lake trout for every bull trout in Logging Lake, and a ratio of six-to-one in Bowman Lake.

That kind of turnover, occurring over less than 30 years, "is remarkably rapid" in ecological terms, Downs said.

Muhlfeld said losing individual bull trout populations in the west-side lakes has broader implications, in terms of genetic diversity, for the Flathead Basin's bull trout metapopulation.

"The more populations you have the greater chance you have that the metapopulation can survive over time," Mulhfeld said.

The one bright spot for a Glacier lake that is directly connected to the Flathead River system is Quartz Lake, where lake trout were discovered only a few years ago. Muhlfeld said 48 bull trout redds were counted this year in stream sections above the lake.

Park officials approved a four-year experimental lake trout suppression project on Quartz Lake that started in early September. Muhlfed led a team of several people in gill netting over a two month period, with successful results.

A boat was airlifted into the lake and netting was initially concentrated on juvenile lake trout. Netting targeted adults as spawning began in October. Eleven adults that were previously tagged with radio transmitters revealed two major spawning locations in the lake.

In the end, 350 juveniles and 130 adults were caught in gill net sets that ranged from 600 feet on up to 1,800 feet, with the crew hauling up nets by hand. The by-catch of bull trout was "very low," Muhlfeld said, about one for every 20 lake trout that were netted.

Remarkably, 10 of the 11 radio-tagged fish were netted. And net hauls gradually diminished, both indications that the netting was effective.

"I think we did a really good job of knocking them back," Muhlfeld said.

Had the high number of juveniles been left unchecked, "it would be devastating to the bull trout population," he added. "We really started this suppression program in the nick of time."

There are similar lake trout suppression projects that have been conducted on waters such as Yellowstone Lake, Swan Lake and Idaho's Lake Pend Oreille. Compared to those efforts, Muhlfeld believes the Quartz Lake project has the highest likelihood of success, partly because it is smaller, the invasion is in an early stage and a barrier has been installed downstream from the lake to isolate the current population.

"It's like a bathtub," Muhlfeld said. "There's nowhere for these guys to hide."

Muhlfeld explained several advantages that lake trout have over bull trout: female lakers produce far more eggs, pound per pound. They spawn in the lakes and juveniles rear in the lakes, with abundant food sources.

Bull trout, meanwhile, spawn less frequently and they spawn up streams, where offspring rear for several years with less abundant food and conditions that can be difficult.

"I would guess that lake trout have a competitive growth advantage, and on top of that the lakers eat the bulls," Muhlfeld said. "It's just a numbers game."

The picture is brighter for bull trout on the east side of the park, where lake trout do not have a presence.

Two St. Mary River tributaries have been surveyed for bull trout redds annually for the last 13 years. Boulder Creek continues to have the largest spawning group of bull trout, with this year's redd count slightly above the annual average of 33 redds.

This year's count of just four redds in the other stream, Kennedy Creek, was well below the annual average of about 20.

Park officials consider the ongoing expansion of lake trout to be the most critical challenge for native bull trout.


* Pend Oreille Commission Issues Concerns Over Lake Fluctuations, Stresses Monitoring

A proposal to allow fluctuations of up to 5 feet in the elevation of north Idaho's Lake Pend Oreille this winter has drawn protests from members of a local advisory group who says such ups and downs would damage the economy and the environment.

In recent history, since 1996, the lake level is dropped in the fall from full summertime pool of up to 2,062.5 feet down toward a target minimum control elevation of either 2,051 or 2,055 each year.

Albeni Falls Dam, which controls the lake level, is authorized to drop as low at 2,049.7, but management agreements intended to protect the lake's kokanee population require the maintenance of one of the two control elevations each year to make sure kokanee salmon spawning beds stay covered with water.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the dam, can raise the elevation above the control level when spawning and juvenile emergence is complete at the end of the year, but can't go below the control level until April. The lake elevation has in recent years been held within a foot of the control level.

The control elevation for the second year in a row is set at 2,051. Last year the lower elevation was maintained as a part of the kokanee management plan. It was intended to allow waves to lap spawning gravels and wash them of accumulated sediment that can make kokanee nests less productive.

The idea is to operate for a year at the lower level, and then two years at the higher level to provide kokanee access to a greater expanse of the cleaned gravel. This year the low control level was chosen because the spawning population was predicted to be low and did not need as much space.

The Bonneville Power Administration this year requested that dam operators be allowed to operate the reservoir within a range of from 2,051 to 2,056 feet after spawning is completed or Dec. 31, which ever happens first. That would allow the storage of more water, which could be called on to turn turbines at Albeni Falls and other dams downstream.

"The power generated at Albeni Falls is very small," BPA's Tony Norris told the Technical Management Team Wednesday. But it is an important source of water to tap, particularly when wintertime cold spells in the region push up energy demand. That water passes through several dams in the United States and Canada before reaching Grand Coulee in central Washington, a major source of hydro generation.

Bonneville markets power generated in the Columbia River basin's federal hydro system. TMT's federal, state and tribal fish and hydro managers mull day-to-day dam operations that might prove beneficial for fish.

The Pend Oreille Basin Commission's Kate Wilson and Ford Elsaesser told the TMT that raising and lowering the lake level within a 5-foot range would cause problems. The commission was created in 2003 by the governor and Idaho Legislature and charged with "studying, investigating, and selecting ways and means of controlling the water quality and quantity as they relate to waters of Lake Pend Oreille, Pend Oreille River, Priest Lake, and Priest River for the communities' interests and interests of the State of Idaho, and for the survival of native species of fish contiguous to the Pend Oreille Basin."

The commission provided TMT with a list of concerns, including erosion that will likely be caused by the fluctuations and the loading of nutrients (via sedimentation) into nearshore waters.

"Extensive monitoring would be necessary to ensure that the winter fluctuation will not cause further nutrient loading," the commission letter says.

An up and down lake level would also affect marinas and shoreline business and could cause damage to infrastructure and docks, the letter said. Lake access, particularly for anglers, could be made difficult.

"Changing lake levels in mid-winter could very possibly promote ice scouring and rhizome fragment dispersal of Flowering rush, an aquatic invasive species. Repeated lake level changes in late winter/early spring may facilitate rhizome dispersal and rooting on exposed sediments," the commission letter says. "In addition, the impacts of freezing on Eurasian watermilfoil could be compromised by bringing the water level back up to 2056.

"The Pend Oreille watershed has one of the largest concentrations of overwintering redhead and other diving ducks. There is concern about potential impacts on wintering waterfowl as a result of the fluctuating winter pool."

Elsaesser, chairman of the commission, said the proposal had not had a proper public vetting.

"I'd just like to put the strong opposition of the commission on the record," he said.

The Corps' Dan Feil said at least one public meeting would be held in the coming weeks to explain the proposal.

"Then we'll take all of the information and decide what we're going to do," Feil said. "We haven't made a decision yet."

Norris said that a variety of control mechanisms assure that reservoir level won't take a rapid plunge or rise. The Corps is not allowed to change the elevation by more than a half-foot per day and a daily change in outflow cannot exceed 10,000 feet per second.

The full range could be used, "but not in a rapid manner, there are limits to the draft" allowed, said Dave Wills of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Norris said that BPA has been working with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to develop a monitoring plan that could be implemented if the new operation is chosen.

Russ Kiefer said Idaho policy makers had decided not to oppose implementation of the new operation despite concerns. He represents the state of Idaho at TMT.

Rather, the state wants to make sure that the situation is monitored carefully to see if significant impacts occur.

If so, a mitigation plan would need to be in place before Idaho could support the 5-foot fluctuation band in future years. Kiefer said he understood the importance of the power considerations.

"It's a very tough one for the state of Idaho," he said of the issue. The lake commission agrees.

"If there are adverse impacts as a result of the fluctuations, the state, communities and commission would like to be assured that the practice will stop or be mitigated appropriately," according to the commission letter.


* Washington's New Fee For Salmon Anglers To Support Selective Fisheries Efforts

Starting April 1, Washington State anglers who fish for salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River and its tributaries will be required to purchase a new endorsement intended to help maintain and improve fishing opportunities throughout the basin.

The Columbia River Recreational Salmon and Steelhead Pilot Program endorsement was authorized by Senate Bill 5421 during the 2009 Legislative session. The annual endorsement was one of several license fee changes approved by the Legislature earlier this year to help offset a $30 million cutback in state funding for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The total charge of the endorsement, after transaction and dealer fees, will be $8.75. The endorsement and recreational fishing licenses for the licensing year that begins April 1, 2010 can be purchased beginning Dec. 1.

Funds generated from the endorsement fee will support the evaluation of selective fisheries in the Columbia River Basin, said John Long, WDFW's statewide salmon and steelhead fisheries manager. Funds also will be used for other management activities, including fisheries enforcement, data collection and monitoring.

Selective fisheries allow anglers to catch and keep abundant hatchery fish, which are marked with a missing adipose fin, but require that they release wild fish.

"This program is designed to support current selective sport fisheries for salmon and steelhead in the Columbia River and its tributaries, and -- to the maximum extent possible -- expand those opportunities in the future," said Long.

The endorsement will be required, along with a fishing license, for anglers 15 years of age and older to fish for salmon and steelhead on the Columbia River and its tributaries when open to fishing for those species.

WDFW, working with the Columbia River Salmon and Steelhead Recreational Advisory Board, has proposed a list of rivers, lakes and other waters in the Columbia River basin where the endorsement will be required. That list, available on the department's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/crss_endorsement/  is one of more than 100 proposed sportfishing rules for 2010-12.

The entire sportfishing rule-proposal package can be found on the department's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fish/regs/rule_proposals/index.htm


* Report Suggests Public Wants 'Go Slow' Approach On Wave Energy In Northwest

A new report summarizing public reactions to wave energy development in the Pacific Northwest suggests that many people are cautiously supportive, but want a "go slow" approach that entails careful research and testing before significant use.

The report, prepared by researchers at Oregon State University for the Oregon Wave Energy Trust, found that 52 percent of respondents were generally positive about wave energy, but substantial numbers had reservations or didn't know enough about it to form an opinion.

"Different people and different groups have varying opinions, depending on whether they're more interested in jobs, energy, fishing rights, the environment or other issues," said Flaxen Conway, editor and co-author of the report and a professor of sociology at OSU. "But one thing we're hearing pretty consistently is they want a lot of solid research to work out all the kinks before we make a serious commitment to wave energy.

"Some state officials are pushing this pretty hard, maybe too hard for some people's taste. Many coastal residents and others want to be heard, like all of us they are often skeptical of change, and in some pretty crowded community meetings it's clear they want answers to their questions before going to commercial scale. They recognize the value of space and place in the ocean. And there are a lot of concerned people in the fishing industry who don't want this to be just one more thing working against them."

OSU, Conway noted, is working to answer many of the technological and environmental questions, such as whether this new form of energy will work, how cost effective it can be, what technologies are the most promising, what impacts they might have on marine life and the ocean floor, and many other issues.

And in the past two years, a major social research effort has been under way to determine the "human dimensions" of wave energy, through six different but related projects. The goal, Conway said, is to fully listen to and understand the knowledge about wave energy and perspective of many stakeholder groups -- the public, energy industry, conservation groups, fishing community, recreational users, government officials and others.

"It's difficult for a lot of people to know what to believe and who to trust," Conway said. "Our findings suggest they trust their local government officials and academic experts the most, and private industry and the news media the least. There's a lot of work still to do here before everyone feels informed and engaged."

Wave energy, Conway said, has gone from almost nonexistent a decade ago to a form of alternative energy that's now getting serious consideration at national levels, along with all of the scientific, commercial, public and political attention that entails. Experts say that 0.2 percent of the ocean's untapped energy could power the world. Primarily because of its large ocean wave resource, Oregon is one focus of this debate -- and the state has committed itself to providing 25 percent of its electricity needs from renewable energy by 2025.

Among the observations in the recent report:

--- Some of the biggest conflicts, as might be expected, relate to permits and siting of proposed wave energy developments.
--- Strong support exists for both technological and environmental research to be completed before large scale commercial projects are allowed.
--- The biggest supporters of wave energy are conservative, better-educated males, but the general level of knowledge about energy issues in the state is fairly high across the board.
--- A collaborative and inclusive approach to siting wave energy plants and monitoring environmental issues would help avoid political battles later on.
--- Truly sustainable energy sources have to consider all economic, environmental and social dimensions.
--- Significant work is needed in mapping the ocean floor.
--- Primary public information sources include the Internet and local news media, and efforts to inform various interest groups should include work in both those mediums.

"People really should not underestimate the social dimension of this issue," Conway said.

"It's not just a case of developing technologies that work and finding industrial partners who want to develop them," she continued. "People care about the environment, they care about existing uses of the ocean, they care about their concerns being addressed, they care about the ocean view from their porch. All of these things matter."

* Alaska 2009 Commercial Salmon Harvest Below 10-year Average (1999-2008)

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game released this week preliminary estimates for the 2009 commercial salmon harvest that shows catch numbers below the recent 10-year average but with a higher dollar value.

Estimates will be revised in 2010, upon finalization of all fish ticket data, and submission of annual processors reports which include the final prices paid for salmon in 2009.

Commercial fishermen harvested 161.7 million salmon in 2009. That is the 11th largest harvest since statehood. The 2009 harvest was 15 million fish higher than the 2008 harvest of 146 million fish, 14 million fish below the preseason forecast of 175 million fish, and 11 million fish below the most recent 10 year average (2008-1999) commercial harvest of 172 million salmon.

Value of the 2009 preliminary catch estimate, $370.1 million, is higher than the most recent 10 year average of $308 million. Preliminary 2009 statewide average prices show decreases for all species of salmon compared to final 2008 prices. The preliminary statewide average price for sockeye salmon is $.80 per pound, 4 cents less than last year. Final 2009 prices for all salmon species may be higher after any post-season adjustments and end-of-season bonuses are paid to fisherman.

Bristol Bay's sockeye salmon harvest of 30.9 million fish was the seventh largest since statehood. The exvessel value of $127.6 million was higher than the 2008 Bristol Bay value of $116.7 million, with the average price three cents per pound less than 2008.

The statewide chum salmon harvest of 17.9 million fish ranks as the seventh best of all time in numbers of fish and the exvessel value of $57.4 million was well below the near record setting 2008 exvessel value of $87.1 million.

Details on the numbers and pounds of fish, average fish weight, average price per pound, and exvessel value for each of the salmon species, by area as well as statewide, can be found on the ADF&G website under "2009 Preliminary Season Summary" at: http://www.cf.adfg.state.ak.us/geninfo/finfish/salmon/catchval/blusheet/09exvesl.php


* Ocean As 'Natural Sink' Not Keeping Pace With Carbon Dioxide Emissions

The ocean and the land are natural sponges, or sinks, that absorb carbon dioxide, or CO2, from the atmosphere. But a group of international scientists, including two from NOAA, have found that the emissions are outpacing the ability of the sinks to soak up the excess CO2.

"More CO2 is staying in the atmosphere instead of being absorbed by the ocean and land sinks, like trees and other vegetation," said Richard Feely, an oceanographer at NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle and an expert on ocean acidification, the change in the ocean's chemistry because of excess CO2. "We're concerned that if the natural sinks can't keep pace with the increased CO2 emissions, then the physical and biological impacts of global warming will accelerate over the next century."

Feely and Thomas Conway, a research chemist at NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colo., were among a team of 31 scientists who contributed to "Trends in the sources and sinks of carbon dioxide," published this week in Nature Geosciences. The scientists are also members of the Global Carbon Project, an international collaboration that works to develop a complete picture of the global carbon cycle.

Using a variety of data including direct observations, computer-generated models, and estimates from countries' energy statistics, the team created a global CO2 budget -- or amount of CO2 produced and consumed -- from 1959 to 2008. The researchers write that during that time, an average of 43 percent of each year's CO2 emissions remained in the atmosphere.

The team did note a spike in global CO2 emissions from 2000 and 2008, likely attributed to manufacturing in developing countries, as well as a rising use of coal as fuel.

Unlike other studies that only consider fossil fuel use to measure CO2 produced by human activities, this team included emissions from changing land use, such as deforestation, logging and intensive cultivation of cropland soils, which also emit CO2.


* Montana Wolf Hunt Ends With Total Of 72 Killed, 15 Percent Of Statewide Population

With seven wolves harvested last weekend in Northwest Montana and three in Southwest Montana, the state's wolf-hunting season officially closed Monday night.

Weekend wolf kills brought the total harvest to 38 wolves by Sunday, so the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission ordered the closure for Wolf Management Unit One, which encompasses the northern tier of the state.

That area's harvest quota was 41 wolves, and the closure was ordered to avoid a quota overrun.

"The wolf hunt was a success in WMU 1," said Jim Williams, the state's Northwest Montana regional wildlife manager. "Now that we are so close to both the regional and statewide quotas, FWP and the FWP Commission have acted to close the wolf hunt for this year."

Of the 38 wolves taken in the northern hunting unit, 18 were females and 20 were males.

Hunters as of Monday afternoon had taken a total of 72 wolves statewide, just shy of the overall quota of 75, about 15 percent of the statewide wolf population estimated at 500.

The state shut down the wolf hunt two weeks before the scheduled end of the season.

In southwest Montana's Wolf Management Unit Two, where there was a quota of 22, some 21 wolves (seven females and 14 males) have been harvested, prompting that area to close to wolf hunting on Monday as well.

Wolf hunting in the state's third unit in southeast Montana was closed Oct. 26 after hunters nearly filled the quota there in an early season hunt just outside Yellowstone National Park.

According to the Associated Press, those shootings -- which included four members of the park's Cottonwood Pack, which is famous among wolf watchers - drew criticism from conservationists. State officials have vowed to change their regulations next year to prevent a recurrence.

There were 13 wolves killed in Southwest Montana, where the quota was 12 wolves.
Even with the success among hunters, the number of wolves in Montana is expected to increase by 20 percent or more because wolves are such prolific breeders.

According to the Associated Press, state wildlife commissioner Bob Ream of Helena -- a wildlife biologist who spent 20 years studying the animals -- declared the 2009 hunt a success.

"For a first try, the state did very well," Ream said Monday. "It happened quicker than a lot of us thought it would, but all in all, the geographic distribution of the harvest was good."

Because the wolves killed were scattered across the state, Ream said the hunt might begin to put a dent in the number of livestock killed every year by the predators.

That has become an increasing problem in recent years as wolves expanded into areas inhabited by people and livestock.

Wolves returned to Northwest Montana naturally starting in the 1980s as packs were formed by animals moving down from Canada.

In Yellowstone National Park and central Idaho, wolves were reintroduced into the wild in the mid-1990s.

Whether the Montana hunts will be repeated next year is uncertain: A lawsuit to return the predator to the endangered list is pending before Judge Donald Molloy in U.S. District Court in Missoula.

Molloy has been sympathetic in past rulings to the objections raised by hunt critics. Nonetheless, he allowed this year's inaugural wolf seasons in Montana and neighboring Idaho to proceed, citing the predator's resiliency.

Wolf hunting still is open in Idaho, where 104 wolves have been taken out of a quota of 220. Wildlife officials there are thinking about extending the season in certain hunting zones.

The Idaho season is scheduled to end Dec. 31.


* Video Shows Wolf Pack Of At Least 10 Wolves In Wallowa County

A video taken by ODFW on Nov. 12 in the Imnaha Wildlife Management Unit (east of Joseph, Ore. in Wallowa County) shows at least 10 wolves make up a pack that ODFW has been monitoring since June 2008. The video was taken from an adjacent ridge across a canyon and shows a mixture of gray and black individual wolves moving upslope.

See the video at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/news/video_gallery/imnaha_wolf_pack.asp

"ODFW has been regularly monitoring this pack but until this video was taken, we only had evidence of a minimum of three adults and three pups making up the pack, says Russ Morgan, ODFW wolf coordinator. "Pups can be difficult to distinguish at this distance, but it appears there may be as many as six pups in the video.

Wolf litters generally average around five pups, but more is not uncommon," he added.

The alpha female of the pack is B-300, a wolf first observed in Oregon in January 2008. Her radio collar stopped working in fall 2008 but ODFW re-collared her in July 2009 and wildlife managers continue to track her and other members of the pack. 

ODFW will continue to monitor this pack and another pack in the Wenaha Unit (Wallowa County) to count their pups during the month of December. For a pack to be defined as a "breeding pair" (an important step in wolf conservation) it must produce at least two pups that survive to December 31 of the year of their birth.

Under Oregon's Wolf Conservation and Management Plan, the Fish and Wildlife Commission will consider delisting wolves from the Oregon Endangered Species List when four breeding pairs for three consecutive years have been documented in eastern Oregon.

The video is more evidence that wolves are establishing themselves in northeast Oregon.

Wolves throughout Oregon are protected by the State Endangered Species Act. They are also protected by the Federal Endangered Species Act west of Highways 398/78/95.


* House Passes Bill Designating Mollalla River As Wild And Scenic, Holds Listed Chinook

The U.S. House of Representatives Thursday approved legislation to designate the Molalla River in northwestern Oregon as a federal Wild and Scenic River.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Kurt Schrader, D- Ore., and would include 22 miles of river and 7,000 acres of riverside land along the Molalla, which flows into the Willamette River about 35 miles south of Portland.

Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley have sponsored companion legislation in the Senate which has since had a hearing in the Energy and Natural Resources subcommittee and awaits mark-up in the Senate.

This upper part of the 53-mile-long river is at the center of effort to create a Molalla Wild and Scenic designation. The upper river has in recent years been benefiting from various river restoration efforts that that are expected to enhance native fish migration and overall river health.

The Molalla River corridor is close to Portland, but remains a true remnant of the historical Oregon landscape, winding through cedar, hemlock, old-growth Douglas fir forests and basalt rock canyons from its headwaters in the Table Rock Wilderness in the Cascade Mountains.

The river provides cold, clean waters and habitat for wildlife and fish, including winter steelhead. The river also provides numerous recreational opportunities, including hiking, fishing, rafting, and wildlife viewing, and is visited by thousands of visitors each year. However, it is precisely these special attributes that also put the river at risk from increasing overuse and damage.

Those fish include the Molalla spring chinook run, is part of the Upper Willamette "evolutionary significant unit" that was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 1999. Recovery planning efforts have identified the need to recover all historic populations of chinook in the Upper Willamette ESU, including the Molalla River.

Recent spawning surveys indicate a relatively low density of salmon spawning in the Molalla and of those fish returning nearly all are of hatchery origin. Only 4--10 percent of escapement is thought to be naturally produced, according to a June 2009 white paper produced by the Native Fish Society and American Rivers.

The Molalla wild winter steelhead run is part of the Upper Willamette ESU, which was also listed as threatened in 1999. The stock is considered, however, to be in full recovery and is now considered a stronghold population, according to the white paper.

Before 1997, the Molalla River was stocked for decades with out-of-basin summer steelhead, winter steelhead, coho salmon and catchable trout. The decline in native stocks is attributed to those hatchery stocks and severe habitat disturbance resulting from heavy timber harvest in the mid-century. Those stockings were stopped with the listing of native winter steelhead and spring chinook.

Only a decade ago, Molalla River wild winter steelhead were estimated to number fewer than 200 fish, but in 2007 and 2008, the estimate was more than 1,500 fish, according to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and NFS reports.

The Upper Molalla River has a healthy population of native cutthroat and resident rainbow trout. A remnant population of Pacific lamprey remains in the river. A run of naturalized coho salmon from a stocking program that was discontinued in 1998 has had a steady and significant linear increase based on NFS observations and Willamette Falls fish counts.

Wildlife in the Molalla corridor includes the northern spotted owl, pileated woodpecker, beaver, elk, deer, cougars, and numerous other species.

A Wild and Scenic designation creates a protected buffer along both sides of a river, blocks dams and other harmful water projects, and preserves a river's free-flowing nature. It also helps protect and improve water quality, as well as the river's unique historic, cultural, scenic, ecological, and recreational values. Designation can also bring economic benefits to the surrounding region as well by supporting recreation and tourism and protecting the quality of life.


* Study: 36 Percent Of World's Fisheries Catch Feeds Farmed Fish, Chickens, Pigs

Finding alternative feed sources for chickens, pigs and other farm animals will significantly reduce pressure on the world's dwindling fisheries while contributing positively to climate change, according to University of British Columbia researchers.

"Thirty million tons -- or 36 per cent -- of the world's total fisheries catch each year is currently ground up into fishmeal and oil to feed farmed fish, chickens and pigs," says UBC fisheries researcher Daniel Pauly, co-author of the Oryx: The International Journal of Conservation article, published online this week.

"Meanwhile, 25 per cent of infants in Peru -- which produces half of the world's fishmeal using anchovies -- are malnourished," says Pauly.

In the Oryx article, nine of the world's leading fisheries and conservation researchers -- including four from UBC -- reviewed the effectiveness of past conservation campaigns and propose new strategies to effect swifter and larger-scale changes.

"Globally, pigs and chickens alone consume six times the amount of seafood as US consumers and twice that of Japan," says lead author Jennifer Jacquet, a post-doctoral fellow at UBC's Fisheries Centre. "Ultimately these farm animals have a greater impact on our seafood supplies than the most successful seafood certification program."

"We should work to eliminate the use of tasty fish for livestock production. It's a waste," says Pauly. "Plus, it is not what pigs or chickens naturally eat. When is the last time you saw a chicken fishing?"

Many sustainable seafood campaigns focus on consumers but ignore large-scale market impacts -- such as farming demand for fishmeal -- and have failed to reach their goals, say the study's authors, which include Enric Sala of the National Geographic Society and Rashid Sumaila and Tony Pitcher of UBC.

After pioneering and distributing more than one million seafood wallet cards -- pocket-sized guides that advise consumers of ocean-friendly seafood, the Monterey Bay Aquarium conducted a study that revealed no overall change in the market and that fishing pressures had not decreased for targeted species, the study points out.

"Sustainable seafood certification programs such as wallet cards have raised consumer awareness but are far less effective than targeting mega supermarket chains such as Walmart, Whole Foods and Loblaw through a combination of positive and negative publicity campaigns," says Jacquet, adding that more than 60 per cent of seafood in Canada and half the seafood in the U.S. is sold through supermarkets.

The authors also suggest establishing international standards for labeling sustainable seafood, eliminating harmful fisheries subsidies and leveraging momentum for fisheries conservation through existing global concerns for climate change.

"Global fisheries consume 13 billion gallons of fuel each year just to catch and land fish," says Jacquet. "That's more gas than 22 million cars would use. Energy use would be much higher if we include the fuel used to ship fish further for processing and to market. No discussion of the overall impact of fisheries would be complete without clarifying its contribution to greenhouse gas emissions and climate change."

"Overall, we'd like to encourage people to engage more as citizens -- as they have with the global climate change movement -- and less as mere consumers," said Pauly. "Big problems like overfishing require efforts to be directed at big change."

The study is available online at http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayIssue?iid=292961


* Corps' Northwestern Division Gets New Commander                                               

At a change of command ceremony today, Brig. Gen. John R. McMahon assumed command of the Northwestern Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

McMahon most recently served as Director of Engineering, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan. He has also held numerous staff and command positions stateside and abroad. Lt. Gen. Robert L. Van Antwerp, Chief of Engineers, presided over the ceremony.

McMahon directs a 4,800-member workforce and a multi-billion annual program in civil works, military construction, and environmental restoration programs in the Missouri and Columbia river basins. These activities are implemented through the division's five operating districts.
A Syracuse University graduate, McMahon earned a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering, and master's degrees in applied mathematics at the Naval Postgraduate School and in natural resource strategy from the National Defense University. He is a registered professional engineer in Virginia.


Message To Readers: The CBB will not be published next Friday, Nov. 27 due to the Thanksgiving holiday. We will return Dec. 4.

For more information about the CBB contact:
-- BILL CRAMPTON, Editor/Writer, bcrampton@cbbulletin.com, phone:
541-312-8860 or
-- BARRY ESPENSON, Senior Writer, bespenson@msn.com, phone: 360-696-4005; fax: 360-694-1530

The stories in this e-mail newsletter are posted on the Columbia Basin Bulletin website at www.cbbulletin.com. If you would like access to the CBB archives, please consider becoming a Member of the CBB website for as little as $5 a month. Your membership will help support maintenance of the 10-year (1998-2008) news database and the production of trustworthy, timely news and information about Columbia Basin fish and wildlife issues.


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The Columbia Basin Bulletin e-mail newsletter is produced by Intermountain Communications of Bend, Oregon and supported with Bonneville Power Administration fish and wildlife funds through the Northwest Power and Conservation Council's Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Program.

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