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THE COLUMBIA BASIN BULLETIN: Weekly Fish and Wildlife News
www.cbbulletin.com May 21, 2010 Issue No. 531

Table of Contents

* Federal Agencies File 'Supplemental Biological Opinion' For Columbia/Snake Salmon, Steelhead

* Hydro/Fish Managers Release Dworshak Water To Quicken Juvenile Migration Through Lower Snake

* Adjustments Made To Spillway Weir At Little Goose Dam To Ease Upriver Passage For Adult Salmon

* EPA To Require Pesticide Use Restrictions Based On NMFS' Salmon/Pesticide Biological Opinion

* Latest Forecast Predicts Spring Chinook Return At 340,000 Fish; Second Best On Record

* Study: Upper Layer Of World's Oceans Show Significant Warming In Last 16 Years

* National Research Council Issues Comprehensive Climate Change Reports; Calls For National Strategy

* EPA Faces June Deadline In Approving Oregon's Water Quality Criteria For Pollutants

* CBB Shorts: Governors' Action Plans For Ocean Health; Malheur, Middle-Snake/Payette Water Quality Plans; Report On USFWS Pacific Region Projects; WDFW Volunteer Of The Year


* Federal Agencies File 'Supplemental Biological Opinion' For Columbia/Snake Salmon, Steelhead

Federal agencies Thursday issued a 2010 "Supplemental Biological Opinion" intended to protect Columbia/Snake River Basin salmon and steelhead listed under the Endangered Species Act.

In doing so, the agencies say they have made the previous Columbia Basin salmon protection plan even better.

The agencies, in their new filing, are asking U.S. District Court James A. Redden for an "expeditious resolution of this case" regarding the legality of the Federal Columbia River Power System biological opinion for Columbia/Snake River Basin salmon and steelhead.

"Federal Defendants are confident that the 2010 Supplemental BiOp provides the Court with a strong basis for ruling in our favor and letting Federal Defendants and their partners fully focus for the next eight years on implementation for the benefit of the fish," according to a Notice of Completion of Remand filed by the U.S. Department of Justice for NOAA Fisheries Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation.

NOAA Fisheries prepared the May 2008 FCRPS BiOp, which judged that federal Columbia-Snake river dams do not jeopardize the survival of 13 basin salmon and steelhead stocks that are listed the Endangered Species Act. The BiOp includes a lengthy list of actions -- an ESA reasonable and prudent alternative -- that NOAA Fisheries says must be taken over a 10-year span to mitigate for hydro impacts on protected stocks and avoid jeopardy.

The BiOp was immediately challenged in the summer of 2008 by the state of Oregon and a coalition of fishing and conservation groups led by the National Wildlife Federation and represented by Earthjustice. They claim that the BiOp's jeopardy analysis is flawed and the planned BiOp actions are inadequate to recover listed stocks.

That fact is not changed as a result of the supplemental BiOp, the groups say.

"This was the Obama team's chance to change directions and protect salmon in the Columbia-Snake River Basin and follow the law," said Todd True, senior managing attorney for Earthjustice and lead attorney for the fishing and conservation groups. "Instead, we got ourselves a plan that looks far too much like the old plans, ignores the clear science on salmon protection and recovery, and lowers the bar for protections under the ESA."

A press release from Save Our Wild Salmon says the updated salmon plan fails to take any actions to actually address the effects of climate change on rivers and salmon populations.

"The National Marine Fisheries Service's revised salmon plan released today is very disappointing, and will not solve the problems salmon face in the Columbia-Snake," said Glen Spain, Northwest regional director for the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations, one of the plaintiffs in the case. It is little more than the old Bush Plan with a new cover and a few bandaids. Our struggling salmon industry -- and the thousands of jobs they represent -- deserves better than this."

The Corps and Bureau operate the dams and, along with NOAA Fisheries, are defendants in the lawsuit.

The 2008 BiOp was developed over a period of nearly three years by NOAA Fisheries in ESA-required "consultation" with the federal action agencies and in collaboration the basin's states and tribes. The Bonneville Power Administration, which markets power generated in the system, is a third FCRPS action agency.

The three-month "remand" completed this week was prompted by a procedural legal dilemma that, if solved, would allow the judge to consider not only the 2008 BiOp and the administrative record of how it was created, but also a so-called Adaptive Management Implementation Plan that was completed in September 2009.

Redden said in February that he could not consider the AMIP, an addendum that the federal agencies say strengthens the BiOp, because it was not a part of the administrative record in the lawsuit as is required by the Administrative Procedures Act.

He said the agencies must formally "integrate" the AMIP and BiOp. They did so during the recently completed remand, as well as take a new look at the state of the science.

"We thoroughly reviewed the Biological Opinion and the science behind it, and consulted federal and independent scientists to be sure that it provides the right framework and actions to protect Northwest salmon," according to a joint statement from the four federal agencies released Thursday. "Today we're filing the product of that effort: A legally and scientifically sound Supplemental BiOp that fully incorporates the Adaptive Management Implementation Plan.

"In summary, NOAA Fisheries finds that the 2010 Supplemental BiOp, which integrates the 2008 RPA and the AMIP, as strengthened during this remand, ensures that operation of the FCRPS is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence or destroy or adversely modify the critical habitat of Snake River spring/summer Chinook, Snake River fall Chinook, Snake River steelhead, Snake River sockeye, middle Columbia River steelhead, upper Columbia River spring Chinook, or upper Columbia River steelhead," according to a federal overview of the "2010 Supplemental FCRPS Biological Opinion.

"NOAA also reconsidered and affirmed the determinations reached in 2008 for lower Columbia River salmon and steelhead, green sturgeon, and Southern Resident Killer Whales. The 2010 Supplemental BiOp is legally and biologically sound, and provides strong protection for Northwest salmon and steelhead," the overview says.

The action agencies are now scheduled to produce by June 11 amended records of decision explaining how implementation of the 2008 BiOp's RPA/AMIP/supplemental BiOp satisfies their substantive obligations under the ESA.

The federal notice says that "Each agency requires approximately 90 days to assemble, organize, and index the relevant documents as well as review them for applicable privileges. Accordingly, the supplemental administrative records will be filed on August 27, 2010."

The federal defendants say that any supplemental briefing process "should be designed to minimize the delay in the final resolution of this case." The defendants' notice suggests that the plaintiffs should have 30 days after the filing of the administrative record to file briefs regarding the supplemental BiOp. Then the federal government would have 30 days to respond, according to the proposed schedule.

The federal notice said that Judge Redden had required that the remand "include new and pertinent scientific information relating to the proposed action, such as recent climate change data, and adequately address whether that data requires additional analysis or mitigation to avoid jeopardy."

The ensuing review employed federal and independent scientists and sought input from others as well.

"The focus of this request was on new information that was not considered in the BiOp, that is relevant to the BiOp or AMIP, and that can be shown to be reliable, such as through peer review," the notice says. "NOAA received responses from the NWF plaintiffs, the state of Oregon, the Nez Perce Tribe, the Colville Tribe, the Columbia-Snake Rivers Irrigators Association and the ISAB."

"We considered new research and literature and will provide a full record of this information. Our review identified modest changes in the science since the BiOp was completed, and we have made appropriate adjustments," the joint statement said. "We have strengthened monitoring of climate change indicators, such as river temperatures, so we can identify and address them. While fish populations and environmental conditions will always vary over the short term, the BiOp delivers benefits for the long term."

"Following that review, NOAA (with the agreement of the Action Agencies) amended the AMIP in order to assure maximum responsiveness to the new science by adding the following further actions: (i) studies of thermal refugia, (ii) enhancement of adult fish population monitoring, (iii) water temperature monitoring, and (iv) a study of the density-dependent impact of hatchery fish on listed salmonids. NOAA then integrated the amended AMIP into the 2008 BiOp and its RPA as new RPA Action 1A," the federal notice says.

The statement from the four agencies says efforts to improve the status of salmon and steelhead stocks are making headway.

"Two years into the implementation of this BiOp, the region's efforts to protect salmon are on course," the joint statement said.

"While much attention has focused on the courtroom, the region should be proud of what the federal government, states, tribes and communities together have accomplished for fish. Federal agencies remain committed to achieving the performance standards and survival improvements outlined in the BiOp.

"The Obama administration has requested a record $137 million for the Corps' Columbia River Fish Mitigation program to help deliver those improvements. The Corps recently completed a fish guidance wall at The Dalles Dam, which is expected to boost juvenile survival 3 to 5 percent and make the dam one of the safest on the Columbia.

"Last year alone, 9,609 miles of wetland habitat were protected and 244 miles of streams were reopened to fish. We've made much progress and completion of this legal process now prepares us to make much more," according to the joint statement.

For more information on the BiOp and the continuing litigation go to http://www.nwr.noaa.gov/Salmon-Hydropower/Columbia-Snake-Basin/Final-BOs.cfm and www.salmonrecovery.gov

In reaction of the release of the supplemental BiOp and the plaintiffs' comments, U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-WA, ranking Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee, said, "Dam removal extremist groups are dead wrong to label this Obama proposal as the same Bush BiOp from 2008. The undeniable facts are that President Bush took dam removal off the table while this Obama BiOp puts Snake River dam removal back in play. I've criticized this action and disagree with it strongly. Science shows that dam removal isn't proven to recover endangered fish, but it's a rock-solid certainty that removal is an extreme action that would kill thousands of jobs and cause devastating economic harm across the Pacific Northwest. Dam removal extremists should not be allowed to twist the facts and falsely attack the Obama BiOp in their single-minded crusade to tear out our valuable, clean energy, low-cost hydropower dams."

"Let's not forget the tremendous fish returns that we are seeing. Across the board, this year's runs are exceeding the previous ten-year average, and they're on target to surpass any year since they were listed under the Endangered Species Act or before the Snake River dams were built."

Northwest RiverPartners, an alliance of farmers, utilities, ports and business, urged "prompt action to approve the federal salmon plan to focus on implementation to help listed salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake rivers."

"It's long overdue - after nearly two decades of litigation, it is time to finally get out of the court room and focus our energies and resources on actions in the plan to help listed salmon and steelhead" Terry Flores, executive director of Northwest RiverPartners, said Thursday.

"This latest in-depth science review involved NOAA Fisheries' top scientists, the region's Independent Science Advisory Board and other independent scientists and reconfirms that the plan is based in the best possible science" said Flores.

"The plan has been scrutinized from every angle and by every stakeholder possible -- it is the most thoroughly reviewed plan for listed species ever," Flores said. "And, it certainly is unprecedented in its cost -- witness the nearly $1 billion per year that will be paid by Northwest families and businesses during these tough economic times."


* Hydro/Fish Managers Release Dworshak Water To Quicken Juvenile Migration Through Lower Snake

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Wednesday increased water releases from west-central Idaho's Dworshak Dam and Reservoir in hopes of spurring the outmigration of juvenile steelhead and salmon in the lower Clearwater and lower Snake rivers.

The operational decision was made in response to a request from regional salmon managers led by NOAA Fisheries Service.

Water flows from Dworshak Dam increased to full powerhouse capacity -- about 10,000 cubic feet per second -- starting just after midnight Wednesday morning and will remain at that level until midnight tonight. But, if it appears that inflows to Lower Granite Dam's reservoir will stay at or above 100,000 cfs (day average) without the extra Dworshak input, the outpouring could be reduced Friday (May 21) to conserve water in the reservoir.

"We know that anything that can be saved there can be used later for temperature augmentation," the Corps' Karl Kanbergs said during Wednesday's Technical Management Team meeting. The cool water in the reservoir is used in late summer to cool and augment flows in the Snake for juvenile outmigrants and for returning adult spawners, so tapping it now could have negative consequences.

The Dworshak operation was scheduled at a time when the peak runoff of the year is expected. Kanbergs said that analysis done by the National Weather Service's Northwest River Forecast Center said average flows into Lower Granite's pool would be 112 kcfs over the three-day period, including the 10 kcfs flow from Dworshak.

The dam operators had been releasing minimum flows, 1.2 kcfs, with the hope of refilling the reservoir by July 1. As of Thursday morning the reservoir was 30 feet below pool. With warm weather in the recent past, and rain, reservoir inflows had risen to about 14 kcfs Thursday and outflows were in the 9.7 kcfs to 9.8 kcfs range so Dworshak's elevation was rising slightly.

Dworshak is on the North Fork of the Clearwater River, which flows into the Clearwater and then the Snake River. Lower Granite is on the lower Snake River below its confluence with the Clearwater.

The Corps Steve Hall said this week that the three-days of Dworshak Dam operations at full powerhouse would have the effect of reducing the reservoir's elevation by about 3 feet. Refill may be difficult considering that the Corps' early May runoff forecast is for Dworshak inflows is at only 57-58 percent of average.

"Conditions have been wetter, thankfully," Hall said of April and early May precipitation. Early last month he had said there was only a 35 percent chance that Dworshak would fill this year. But the odds have improved. Early this week he estimated that there is a 56 percent chance, though that drops to 49 percent when the three-day full powerhouse operation is taken into account.

"I think there's still fairly good chance we'll refill," Hall said.

Evaluation of current juvenile salmon outmigration prompted the Fish Passage Advisory Committee to request an increase in water flows from Dworshak. The FPAC is a regional group composed of biologists and fish managers from NOAA-Fisheries; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Idaho, Washington and Oregon states' fish and wildlife agencies, Native American tribes and the Northwest Power and Conservation Council's Fish Passage Center which evaluates in-river conditions for ESA-listed fish and makes recommendations to regional water managers to adjust operations as necessary.

Recent juvenile salmon and steelhead outmigration counts at Lower Granite Dam have been much lower than anticipated. Through May 15 this season, only 1,965,823 juvenile salmon and steelhead had passed through the juvenile fish facility at the dam. During similar water forecast (snowpack and rainfall) conditions in 2005, more than 10,515,796 salmon and steelhead had passed through the dam's juvenile bypass system by May 15, according to a press release issued by the Corps.

The unusually low numbers of juvenile salmon and steelhead passing Lower Granite Dam's juvenile fish bypass facility raised fish managers' concerns and prompted their request for additional flows from Dworshak. The migrants include wild stocks that are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

"The real driver in my mind is steelhead," NOAA Fisheries Paul Wagner said. "They seem to be way behind." He said past research indicates that Snake River steelhead that head downriver after June 1 have a much lower smolt-to-adult return rate than earlier outmigrants.

Over the course of Wednesday Lower Granite inflows rose from abut 75 kcfs in the wee hours to more than 103 kcfs as midnight approached. The inflows had risen to 106.6 kcfs by midday Thursday.

The rising flows may be producing the desired effect. Juvenile steelhead numbers at Little Goose Dam, the next hydro project downstream, had been settled in the 10,000 to 27,000 range recently. That number climbed to 180,000 Thursday, Wagner said.

Outdoor recreation opportunities shouldn't be affected by the increase in flows through the weekend, said Corps recreation officials.

With the releases to assist fish outmigration, the reservoir will likely fill to a level within 10 feet of full, according to Corps water managers.

While the lower water levels can make it more difficult to access the shoreline mini-camps, the popular destination and safe-harbor docks provide an excellent place for family and friends to meet, picnic, swim and have fun, according to recreation officials at Dworshak.

Floating destination docks are located near the dam in Merrys Bay, Indian Creek, Drift Creek, Cranberry Creek and two at Elk Creek. Floating safe-harbor docks are located in Freds Bay, Dicks Creek, Cranberry Creek, Reeds Creek, Weitas Creek and Evans Creek. Reservoir maps are available at all boat ramp kiosks and the Dworshak Dam Visitor Center. All campgrounds and boat ramps are open for use.

Corps staff manages the reservoir for multiple purposes, including fish out-migration enhancement (spring flow and summer flow), recreation, power and flood risk management, for example.

For more information about regional water-management activities, go online to the Corps' Columbia Basin Water Management Division Web site at www.nwd-wc.usace.army.mil


* Adjustments Made To Spillway Weir At Little Goose Dam To Ease Upriver Passage For Adult Salmon

Low-flow conditions in the lower Snake River this spring in conjunction with operation of a relatively new spillway weir at Little Goose Dam apparently served to confuse adult spring chinook salmon searching for a route up and over the hydro project.

Daily counts in the dam's fish ladders had simmered along at a thousand or two, with an occasional 3,000 or 4,000 tally since April.

But when the time came to switch the spillway weir from high crest to low crest on May 13, something unexpected happened. During the period when the high crest was taken out of service at 8:30 a.m. and the low crest position established at 4:30 p.m., 9,679 adult chinook were counted at Little Goose, according to the Corps' Doug Baus.

That more than doubled the previous season high daily count this year at Little Goose.

When the spillway weir was out of service dam operators switched from a type of bulk spill at the spillbays, in which most of the spill is concentrated in the spillway weir, to a more uniform pattern, with the same amount of spill cascading through each of a number of spillways.

The Corps is required to spill 30 percent of the river flow at this time of year to accommodate juvenile fish passage. Spill is generally believed to be the most benign route of passage for the young fish, who are bound for the Pacific Ocean.

With the high crest spillway weir in place, 7,000 cubic feet of water is funneled through that spill bay. The low crest installed last week passes 10 kcfs. 

At the time the high crest spillway weir was removed, the water channeled through it represented about half of the spill volume.

In the three days that followed installation of the low crest spillway weir the adult chinook counts were 751, 1,624 and 2,020.

So the Corps, with the agreement of NOAA Fisheries Service, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, decided to remove the weir again on Tuesday.

And voila. The count for that day jumped to 10,252.

So, this time following discussions with NOAA Fisheries Service, ODFW, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Bonneville Power Administration, it was decided leave the Little Goose spillbay weir out of service until noon Thursday.

The chinook count Wednesday was 5,341, followed by a count Thursday of 2,717 so apparently the log jam had cleared.

Meanwhile, flows in the lower Snake have risen 45-50 kcfs last week to 102 kcfs Thursday and are expected to crest soon. The higher flows are expected to erase hydrologic conditions in Little Goose's tailrace that seem to stall spawning salmon. The conditions appear to exist at lower flows with the spillway weir in place.

The season's high flows are also expected to bring a wave of juvenile salmon and steelhead migrants, which the spillway weir is specifically designed to assist.

A spillway weir structure is fitted into a dam's spillbay, raising the spillway opening to create a surface-oriented passage for out-migrating fish

Spillway weirs pass water through shallower openings than conventional spill bays, which often increases their effectiveness at passing juvenile salmonids through a route with high survival. Juvenile salmon and steelhead can safely pass over a raised spillway crest more efficiently than with conventional spill while reducing migration delays at the dam, the Corps and others theorized, and that theory proved out in testing last year.

As of May 12, dam counts showed that nearly 20,000 more adult chinook had passed over Lower Monumental Dam than had climbed Little Goose's fish ladders. Lower Monumental is about 29 river miles downstream of Little Goose. The numbers indicated that adult fish passage conditions at Little Goose were less than ideal.

The fact that the spawning salmon were being delayed at the dam is worrisome because it can result in limited energy stores being drained.

"Prespawning mortality is a growing concern" in the region, Baus said of fish that make the long journey to the spawning grounds but without enough energy to complete their mission.

The spillway weir is now re-installed at low crest, a somewhat deeper opening that attracts juvenile migrants. The high crest is used when river flows are lower.

The Corps' Tim Dykstra said Little Goose operations are but one of the "balancing acts" that hydro and salmon managers must deal with during the course of the fish migration seasons.

"Little Goose has tailrace conditions that are quite sensitive" to different flow conditions, he said. Last year with a water supply near average and also a, relatively, normally timed runoff there did not appear to be any problem with delayed entry of salmon into the fish ladders during what was the first year the spillway weir was in place. This year with the late arrival of the spring freshet, there was a problem.

"We're continuing to work closely with others in the region to come up with solution on this," Dykstra said.


* EPA To Require Pesticide Use Restrictions Based On NMFS' Salmon/Pesticide Biological Opinion

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced this week that it will require pesticide use limitations to protect 28 species of Pacific salmon and steelhead in California and the Northwest listed under the Endangered Species Act.

The new restrictions are based on a biological opinion issued by the National Marine Fisheries Service in April, 2009, which concluded that the continued use of carbaryl, carbofuran and methomyl will likely jeopardize the existence of listed Pacific salmonids.

EPA's "implementation measures" are based on the pesticide BiOp's Reasonable and Prudent Alternate aimed at reducing pesticide exposure to a level where jeopardy to salmon would not be expected.

"We anticipate these new use limitations will result in significant reduction in use of NMC pesticides in the portions of California, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho that support Pacific salmon and steelhead for which NMFS has found jeopardy," wrote Richard Keigwin, EPA's director of the Pesticide Re-evaluation Division, in a letter to NMFS.

The restrictions include:

--- Spray Drift Buffers. The buffers imposed by EPA will vary "depending on application rate, spray droplet size, and water body size." Buffers will never be less than 25 feet or more than 1000 feet. EPA says its buffers will "achieve a reduction in the potential concentrations of each pesticide in water bodies comparable to that estimated using the most conservative buffer distance and application assumptions used by NMFS in their BiOP."

--- Wind Speed Restriction. Applications of the three pesticides will not be permitted when winds are more than 10 mph. Applications must begin on the side of the field nearest the water and proceed away from the water.

-- Soil Moisture/48 Hour Storm Restriction. The pesticides may not be applied when soil moisture is at field capacity or when a storm event is likely to produce runoff within 48 hours after application.

-- Fish Mortality Reporting. All incidents of fish mortality that occur within four days of application and within the vicinity of the treatment area must be reported to EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs.

--- Monitoring For Off-Channel Habitats. EPA will design a monitoring study that will allow the federal government to determine peak concentrations of the pesticides in vulnerable, off-channel habitats and determine the effectiveness of its modeling in measuring potential exposures in these habitats. EPA will require pesticide registrants to fund and conduct the monitoring study.

EPA says it will require changes to pesticide labeling to reflect the new methods of use. "By changing pesticide labeling to reflect new use limitations, those limitations become enforceable under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act," said Keigwin in his letter.

Earlier this month, pesticide manufactures rejected EPA's request that such changes in use be adopted voluntarily.

"Solid scientific analysis, far more complete than is reflected in the NMFS BiOp, supports our clients' view that use of their products is not taking or jeopardizing any protected species, and not adversely affecting any critical habit," said David Wienberg, an attorney representing Dow AgroSciences, in a May 7 letter to the EPA.

Both Kiegwin's and Wienberg's letters can be found at http://www.epa.gov/espp/
along with more information about EPA's Endangered Species Program.


* Latest Forecast Predicts Spring Chinook Return At 340,000 Fish; Second Best On Record

The emergency closure of a tribal platform and hook and line fishery on the Columbia River mainstem was forced this week with the realization that the upriver spring chinook salmon catch in an earlier commercial fishery was greater than had been estimated.

The late receipt of additional fish sale data from an April 27-30 Zone 6 gill-net fishery pushed the treaty tribes -- the Nez Perce, Warm Springs, Umatilla and Yakama -- 1,728 fish past their spring season allocation. Based on the latest upriver spring chinook run-size forecast of 340,000 adult returns to the mouth of the river, the four tribes are allowed up to an 11.7 percent impact -- a catch of 39,780.

The total 2010 catch now stands at an estimated 40,508 after 3,181 fish were accounted for as a result the new data. The tribes had thought until early this week that they had 1,200 fish yet to catch. The total includes fish caught in ceremonial permit, gill net and platform and hook and line fisheries.

The tribes had closed platform and hook and line fisheries below Bonneville Dam at the end of the day Wednesday in order to hold down impacts. But the emergency closure of reservoirs between Bonneville and McNary dams at the end of today (Friday) was necessary because of the updated catch estimates.

The catch limits are established under a management agreement with Idaho, Oregon, Washington, the Shoshone-Bannock tribes and the federal government. The goal is to limit impacts on wild Snake River spring/summer and Upper Columbia spring chinook that are protected under the Endangered Species Act.

Non-tribal fishers are also close to their upriver spring chinook limits for the mainstem Columbia and Snake rivers. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife closed at the end of the day today sport fisheries in the lower Snake and at Ringold Rearing Area on the Columbia in south-central Washington.

The lower Columbia (from Bonneville 146 river miles to the river mouth) has been closed to sport chinook retention since April 18. It was an extremely successful season, involving 166,000 angler trips and a harvest of more than 29,000 spring chinook, including an upriver catch (kept fish and release mortalities) of 23,553. That amounted to 119 percent of the fishery's upriver spring chinook
allocation. Overall the Columbia-Snake recreational catch of upriver spring chinook amounted to 117 percent of the sport allocation.

The non-Indian gill-net fleet landed 9,127 spring chinook, including 7,609 upriver fish, from the lower Columbia mainstem. That represents 54 percent of the gill netters' 2010 allocation based on a return of 340,000 upriver fish.

They also caught 19,702 spring chinook in four off-channel "select areas" in the lower Columbia estuary. The select area catch will include a projected 1,462 upriver spring chinook, which would be 288 percent of the select area commercial allocation, though the combined impact of the commercial mainstem and select area fisheries is only 62 percent of allocation.

This year's upriver spring chinook run was forecast in preseason to be the biggest ever -- 470,000 adult fish to the mouth of the Columbia. The record is 439,885 in 2001.

But, at this point, the run might have to settle for the title of second biggest ever. The latest forecast, if realized, would eclipse 2002's return of 334,599 and establish a second-place ranking on a list that dates back to 1938.

The cumulative count through Wednesday at Bonneville's fish ladders was 225,976 upriver spring chinook. Counts on Tuesday and Wednesday were just over 1,200 fish. The high daily count this year was 11,697 adult upriver spring chinook on April 21. Chinook passing over Bonneville through June 15 are counted as spring chinook.

Overall, WDFW and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife staff estimated that non-tribal fisheries' impacts this year on the upriver spring chinook run is 1.93 percent, well shy of the 2.3 percent ESA limit.

"From a management perspective it's worked out pretty well," the WDFW's Guy Norman said. The non-tribal catch is within ESA limits it appears and "catch balancing" provisions of the management agreement have been satisfied. The provisions require that non-Indian harvests are no greater than the tribes' allowable catch.

He did note the non-tribal commercial shortfall and said the fleet would get the first opportunity if the run-size forecast in increased. The Technical Advisory Committee meets weekly to review dam count data and other information and, if necessary, update the forecast.


* Study: Upper Layer Of World's Oceans Show Significant Warming In Last 16 Years

The upper layer of the world's ocean has warmed since 1993, indicating a strong climate change signal, according to a new study.

"We are seeing the global ocean store more heat than it gives off," said John Lyman, an oceanographer at NOAA's Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, who led an international team of scientists that analyzed nine different estimates of heat content in the upper ocean from 1993 to 2008.

The team combined the estimates to assess the size and certainty of growing heat storage in the ocean. Their findings were published in the May 20 edition of the journal Nature. The scientists are from NOAA, NASA, the Met Office Hadley Centre in the United Kingdom, the University of Hamburg in Germany and the Meteorological Research Institute in Japan.

"The ocean is the biggest reservoir for heat in the climate system," said Josh Willis, an oceanographer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and one of the scientists who contributed to the study. "So as the planet warms, we're finding that 80 to 90 percent of the increased heat ends up in the ocean."        

A warming ocean is a direct cause of global sea level rise, since seawater expands and takes up more space as it heats up. The scientists say that this expansion accounts for about one-third to one-half of global sea level rise.

Combining multiple estimates of heat in the upper ocean -- from the surface to about 2,000 feet down -- the team found a strong multi-year warming trend throughout the world's ocean.

According to measurements by an array of autonomous free-floating ocean floats called Argo as well as by earlier devices called expendable bathythermographs or XBTs that were dropped from ships to obtain temperature data, ocean heat content has increased over the last 16 years.

The team notes that there are still some uncertainties and some biases.

"The XBT data give us vital information about past changes in the ocean, but they are not as accurate as the more recent Argo data," said Gregory Johnson, an oceanographer at NOAA's Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory. "However, our analysis of these data gives us confidence that on average, the ocean has warmed over the past decade and a half, signaling a climate imbalance."

Data from the array of Argo floats -- deployed by NOAA and other U.S. and international partners -- greatly reduce the uncertainties in estimates of ocean heat content over the past several years, the team said. There are now more than 3,200 Argo floats distributed throughout the world's ocean sending back information via satellite on temperature, salinity, currents and other ocean properties.


* National Research Council Issues Comprehensive Climate Change Reports; Calls For National Strategy

As part of its most comprehensive study of climate change to date, the National Research Council this week issued three reports emphasizing why the U.S. should act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop a national strategy to adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change.

The reports by the Research Council, the operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering, are part of a congressionally requested suite of five studies known as America's Climate Choices.

"These reports show that the state of climate change science is strong," said Ralph J. Cicerone, president of the National Academy of Sciences. "But the nation also needs the scientific community to expand upon its understanding of why climate change is happening, and focus also on when and where the most severe impacts will occur and what we can do to respond."

The reports can be found at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12782

The compelling case that climate change is occurring and is caused in large part by human activities is based on a strong, credible body of evidence, says Advancing the Science of Climate Change, one of the new reports.

While noting that there is always more to learn and that the scientific process is never "closed," the report emphasizes that multiple lines of evidence support scientific understanding of climate change. The core phenomenon, scientific questions, and hypotheses have been examined thoroughly and have stood firm in the face of serious debate and careful evaluation of alternative explanations.

"Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for -- and in many cases is already affecting -- a broad range of human and natural systems," the report concludes.

It calls for a new era of climate change science where an emphasis is placed on "fundamental, use-inspired" research, which not only improves understanding of the causes and consequences of climate change but also is useful to decision makers at the local, regional, national, and international levels acting to limit and adapt to climate change. Seven cross-cutting research themes are identified to support this more comprehensive and integrative scientific enterprise.

The report recommends that a single federal entity or program be given the authority and resources to coordinate a national, multidisciplinary research effort aimed at improving both understanding and responses to climate change.

Substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions will require prompt and sustained efforts to promote major technological and behavioral changes, says Limiting the Magnitude of Future Climate Change, another of the new reports.

Although limiting emissions must be a global effort to be effective, strong U.S. actions to reduce emissions will help encourage other countries to do the same. In addition, the U.S. could establish itself as a leader in developing and deploying the technologies necessary to limit and adapt to climate change.

An inclusive national policy framework is needed to ensure that all levels of government, the private sector, and millions of households and individuals are contributing to shared national goals. Toward that end, the U.S. should establish a greenhouse gas emissions "budget" that sets a limit on total domestic emissions over a set period of time and provides a clear, directly measurable goal. However, the report warns, the longer the nation waits to begin reducing emissions, the harder and more expensive it will likely be to reach any given emissions target.

A carbon-pricing system is the most cost-effective way to reduce emissions. Either cap-and-trade, a system of taxing emissions, or a combination of the two could provide the needed incentives. While the report does not specifically recommend a cap-and-trade system, it notes that cap-and-trade is generally more compatible with the concept of an emissions budget.

Reducing vulnerabilities to impacts of climate change that the nation cannot, or does not, avoid is a highly desirable strategy to manage and minimize the risks, says the third report, Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change.

Some impacts -- such as rising sea levels, disappearing sea ice, and the frequency and intensity of some extreme weather events like heavy precipitation and heat waves -- are already being observed across the country.  The report notes that policymakers need to anticipate a range of possible climate conditions and that uncertainty about the exact timing and magnitude of impacts is not a reason to wait to act. In fact, it says boosting U.S. adaptive capacity now can be viewed as "an insurance policy against an uncertain future," while inaction could increase risks, especially if the rate of climate change is particularly large.

Although much of the response to climate change will occur at local and regional levels, a national adaptation strategy is needed to facilitate cooperation and collaboration across all lines of government and between government and other key parties, including the private sector, community organizations, and nongovernmental organizations. As part of this strategy, the federal government should provide technical and scientific resources that are lacking at the local or regional scale, incentives for local and state authorities to begin adaptation planning, guidance across jurisdictions, and support of scientific research to expand knowledge of impacts and adaptation.

Adaptation to climate change should not be seen as an alternative to attempts to limit it, the report emphasizes. Rather, the two approaches should be seen as partners, given that society's ability to cope with the impacts of climate change decreases as the severity of climate change increases. At moderate rates and levels of climate change, adaptation can be effective, but at severe rates, adapting to disturbances caused by climate change may not be possible, the report says.

The project was requested by Congress and is funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. For more information, visit http://americasclimatechoices.org

The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council are independent, nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology, and health policy advice under an 1863 congressional charter.


* EPA Faces June Deadline In Approving Oregon's Water Quality Criteria For Pollutants

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has until June 1 to approve or disapprove water quality criteria for toxic pollutants adopted by Oregon in 2004, according to a court order stemming from a federal lawsuit filed in April 2006 by Northwest Environmental Advocates.

Because EPA did not act six years ago when the state submitted revised human health criteria for toxics, Oregon still is using standards that are among the lowest in the United States.

At issue is what's known as the "fish consumption rate" which is used in developing water quality criteria. Increasing the fish consumption rate has the result of decreasing the levels of toxic pollution considered "allowable" in rivers and streams.

Oregon currently is in the midst of determining new water quality standards statewide that would include a new fish consumption rate.

On July 8, 2004, Oregon submitted for EPA's review, under the Clean Water Act, new and revised human health criteria for toxics that were based on EPA's national recommendations, and utilized a fish consumption rate of 17.5 grams per day (two 8-ounce fish meals a month), the level recommended by EPA for protection of the general U.S. population.

EPA's decision on Oregon's submission was extended several times as the federal agency worked with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservations with the intent of establishing a much higher fish consumption rate of 175 grams per day.

However, because EPA did not rule on the fish consumption rate of 17.5 grams per day, Oregon's default rate of 6.5 grams remained in effect.

Oregon and EPA, along with industry, local governments, NGOs and local groups have been meeting for the past four years to develop the new criteria.
The court order directing EPA to make its decision by June 1 comes in the midst of ongoing efforts among the federal agency, the state of Oregon and the Umatilla Tribes that ultimately would increase Oregon's fish consumption rate to the highest in the United States.

NWEA explained its position in a "Memorandum in Support of Joint Motion to Extend Consent Decree Deadlines to June 1, 2010," which was certified in U.S. District Court in February of this year.

"NWEA consented to earlier extensions to allow the Parties to discuss whether it might be appropriate for Oregon to complete its new rulemaking process before EPA otherwise would be required to take action on the pending human health criteria," the document states. "At this point, however, the timeframe for Oregon's rulemaking is now considerably longer than NWEA first anticipated and NWEA has concerns about further delaying action on the 2004 criteria that would replace criteria NWEA believes are outdated and inadequate."

Mary Lou Soscia, Columbia River coordinator with the EPA Region 10 in Portland, said EPA will continue on the same track no matter whether the 2004 criteria are approved or disapproved.

"I don't agree that it's taking too long," said Soscia. "This is hard, hard stuff we're trying to do . Whatever happens we're committed to the process. We've spent a lot of money, time and resources. We're totally committed to see that process through with Oregon and the Umatillas to move toward that 175 grams per day standard."

Rick George, manager of the Environmental Rights Protection Program for the Umatilla Tribes, said the tribes, too, are committed to the process.

"The interest of the Confederated Tribes has been clear since 2004 that EPA has a trust responsibility to protect the consumption of fish protected by treaty rights for this Tribe and its membership," George said. "DEQ (Oregon Department of Environmental Quality) has a moral and legal responsibility to fulfill that same objective, to protect fish consumption from toxic contamination and resulting serious human health impacts."

"We're six years past 2004 and without the 2004 criteria in place, Oregon continues to use standards based on 6.5 grams when evaluating toxics in Oregon waters," said Nina Bell, Executive Director for Northwest Environmental Advocates. "We're still in the dark ages in this state."

Back in 2004, during government-to-government consultation led by the Umatilla Tribes, EPA received comments that the criteria did not adequately protect tribal members and others who consume more fish than the general population. A 1994 survey by the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission documented higher fish consumption rates (113-389 grams per day) for Umatillas, Warm Springs, Yakama and Nez Perce tribal members.

Based on those concerns, EPA deferred action and instead began participation in a "three sovereign" collaborative partnership to develop revised criteria. Since 2005, the process has examined fish consumption rate data specific to the Pacific Northwest, human health risks to high fish consumers, potential economic impacts of revised criteria, tools to address attainment of new criteria by point and nonpoint sources, and draft language for a revised rule.

During the process, Northwest tribes have participated in public workshops and EPA has provided tribal staff with regular updates on process, schedule and technical issues, according to Kathleen Feehan, senior policy analyst for the Umatilla Tribes.

Feehan acknowledges that EPA did not approve or disapprove Oregon's water quality standards within 90 days as required by the Clean Water Act.

Instead, she said, EPA "deferred actions when it became clear that Oregon was working with the tribes on a more cooperatively reached fish consumption rate and (planned to) resubmit with more appropriate standards that better protect fish consumers in the Columbia Basin."

At any rate, Feehan said, the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission has approved criteria based on 17.5 grams and uses that standard in its actions now.

"It does not have federal approval, but it's not fair to say that those are not the applicable criteria in the state of Oregon at this time," Feehan said.

Northwest Environmental Advocates in April 2006 sued EPA for failure to act on Oregon's revised human health criteria for toxics.

Toward a goal of "cleaner water, cleaner fish and healthier fish," Bell said, NWEA began pushing for toxics criteria that included the higher fish consumption rate together with increased controls for nonpoint sources of pollution.

The 175 grams per day FCR is important rulemaking, "but I'd have to say that the most important goal is actually cleaning up water pollution," Bell said. "Combining non-point source efforts with the significant changes in fish consumption was a package we were looking for."

Soscia said Bell is "absolutely right" about measuring toxics in water, but the fish consumption rate is an important indicator for public health.

"That's why we're working on a comprehensive strategy," she said. "We have to get at it from a number of directions and that's why it's taking so long."

Soscia was mindful that Oregon likely will have the highest fish consumption rate in the country.

"We're embarking on a whole new territory and figuring it out," Soscia said. "We're not intending to make regulatory loopholes; we're trying to figure out our technological limitations, and other factors, and trying to work that out. It's not perfect science by any means."


* CBB Shorts: Governors' Action Plans For Ocean Health; Malheur, Middle-Snake/Payette Water Quality Plans; Report On USFWS Pacific Region Projects; WDFW Volunteer Of The Year

--- West Coast Governors Release Implementation Plans For Ocean Health

The governors of California, Oregon, and Washington today released eight issue-specific work plans to improve and sustain the health of the three states' shared coastal and ocean resources and the communities that depend on them.

With $500,000 in new funding from the federal government, projects funded by existing federal and state investments will be able to continue and the three states will begin to look at which projects to start next.

"These action plans represent the balanced, collective approach we need to ensure our ocean continues to be sustainably managed for coastal communities and marine life," Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski said. "The best way to protect the interests of coastal communities is to preserve our existing ocean resources and identify new economic development opportunities, such as wave energy. We can tap our ocean as a new source of green power in a way that protects the traditional uses of our ocean."

In 2006 Govs. Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, Kulongoski, and Christine Gregoire of Washington committed to taking action to protect the states' shared coastal and ocean resources. In July 2008, the three governors released a West Coast Governors' Agreement on Ocean Health Action Plan that identified common ocean and coastal management priorities. The regional agreement was the first of its kind on the West Coast and also aligns well with federal planning efforts currently under way under the Obama Administration's Ocean Policy Task Force established in 2009.

The three governors are now releasing final implementation plans for eight issue areas identified by the WCGA two years ago: 1. Climate Change, 2. Polluted Runoff, 3. Marine Debris, 4. Spartina Eradication, 5. Renewable Ocean Energy, 6. Ocean Awareness and Literacy, 7. Seafloor Mapping, and 8. Sediment Management. The issue areas represent the need to clean up the ocean, protect it from future damage and the importance of balancing new uses of the ocean with existing practices such as fishing and habitat protection.

"We are moving from planning to action with the release of these implementation plans," said Schwarzenegger. "Together we made a commitment to address climate change, combat ocean garbage, reduce water pollution, protect our marine habitats, and to unlock the mysteries of our offshore waters by mapping the seafloor off all three states. Today we are taking a bold new step in fulfilling that commitment."  

The implementation plans were developed by groups know as Action Coordination Teams, comprised of federal, state, local, tribal and stakeholder representatives on the West Coast. Members of these tri-state teams are experts in their fields and have firsthand experience addressing these challenges. Their final plans reflect the numerous comments received from the public when the implementation plans were released in draft form.

"An enormous amount of work was put into these work plans to benefit ocean and coastal health and our working communities," Gregoire said. "This shows the strongest commitment on the part of our citizens and experts. We owe them our deepest gratitude and thanks. Now we must turn our full attention to getting plans transformed into real, on-the-ground work."

These eight comprehensive plans identify and prioritize on-the-ground projects to ensure successful long-term coordination and implementation of regional priorities identified in the Action Plan. 

To read the full text of the eight final work plans or to learn more about the WCGA, go to www.westcoastoceans.gov


-- DEQ Seeks Comment On Water Quality Plans For Malheur River Basin, Middle Snake-Payette Subbasin

DEQ is seeking comments on draft documents describing pollution limits and plans to improve water quality in the Malheur River Basin and adjacent Middle Snake-Payette subbasin.

The Federal Clean Water act requires Oregon to develop plans that include goals and pollution control targets for improving water quality in these watersheds. DEQ is doing this by first establishing limits known as "Total Maximum Daily Loads" for each pollutant entering the water system.

Prior to the preparation of the pollution limits DEQ identified five water quality problems in streams within the Malheur River Basin and Middle Snake-Payette subbasin: low dissolved oxygen, high levels of chlorophyll from excessive algae growth, high levels of bacteria, pesticide pollution, and high water temperatures.

Pollution sources in the Malheur River basin and the Middle Snake Payette subbasin include nutrients such as phosphorus, sediment, bacteria, and pesticide residues which are often the result of excess erosion from agricultural practices, road construction, and other ground disturbing activities. Riparian vegetation removal is also an important factor which increases erosion rates and reduces the shading of streams. Reductions in shade, combined with widening of stream channels from erosion, causes increased stream temperatures.

The water quality improvement plans will require improved practices that will reduce erosion and sediment loading to streams. Reductions in sediment loading will lower phosphorus, bacteria and pesticide concentrations so that water quality standards can be met. Streamside vegetation goals were developed to address water temperature issues.

A hearing will be held on June 29 at:
Malheur County Extension Office
710 SW 5th Ave.
Ontario, OR

For more information go to www.deq.state.or.us/WQ/TMDLs/malheurriver.htm


--- Report Highlights Endangered Species Work By USFWS In Pacific Region

From the South Pacific to the high desert of Idaho, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists in the Pacific Region and their partners are working to recover threatened and endangered species, some of which teeter on the brink of extinction.

A new report highlights a select group of the more than 140 on-the-ground projects the Pacific Region funded in 2009 at a cost of $3.7 million. The report is available at http://www.fws.gov/pacific/ecoservices/endangered/recovery/documents/2009_FWS_R1_Recovery_2010.pdf

"Recovery of threatened, endangered and other at-risk species lies at the very heart of our mission," said Robyn Thorson, director of the USFWS' Pacific Region. "These projects emphasize the richness of the resources we hold in trust, as well as the diversity of approaches we take to ensure their survival and recovery."

The report comes in time for Endangered Species Day, celebrated this year on May 21. Started in 2006 by the U.S. Congress, Endangered Species Day honors our national commitment to recovering endangered species and their habitats and provides opportunities to learn about what efforts are being made to conserve them.

The Service works with other federal agencies, state, local and tribal governments, environmental organizations, industry groups, academia, the scientific community and members of the public to help conserve our nation's threatened and endangered fish, wildlife, and plants.

In the Pacific Region, these efforts include:
  Working with schools throughout the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana
  Islands and on Guam to raise awareness of the ecological and cultural
  importance of the threatened Mariana fruit bat;
  Collaborating with the Volcano Rare Plan Facility on the island of
  Hawaii to collect, propagate and reintroduce six endangered species of
  plants, all of which have fewer than 50 individuals remaining in the
  Partnering with state and federal agencies to remove fish passage
  barriers throughout the Pacific Northwest, restoring habitat access to
  bull trout and salmon;
  Cooperating with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to manage dredge spoil
  islands in the lower Columbia River to enhance nesting habitat for
  streaked horned lark;
  Working with private landowners in Idaho to conserve the Columbia
  spotted frog.


--- Grouse Radio Tracker Named WDFW Volunteer Of The Year

Kim Thorburn, a retired physician from Spokane, has been named Volunteer of the Year by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife for her efforts to help bring sage grouse and sharp-tailed grouse back to Lincoln County.

Thorburn, who has spent the past year radio-tracking birds relocated to the county by state biologists, was one of several Washington citizens recognized for their contributions during a WDFW awards ceremony May 13.

"Kim Thorburn's dedication to this project has helped us keep track of these birds and given us a better understanding of their home range," said WDFW Director Phil Anderson, who announced this year's awards. "She's a prime example of the important contribution citizen volunteers make to this department and to this state's fish and wildlife resources."

Sage and sharp-tailed grouse are both native to eastern Washington, but are now listed by the state as a threatened species.

In accepting her award, Thornburn brimmed with excitement as she announced that the first sage grouse released by WDFW since 2008 had just hatched chicks.

"I'm thrilled, and frankly surprised to win an award for something I enjoy doing so much," she said.

Other citizen awards announced by WDFW for 2010 include:

--- Organization of the Year: The Renton Fish & Game Club received this year's award for nearly four decades of work on WDFW lands in Okanogan County. In that time, club members have built and repaired miles of fencing, cleared acres of weeds and brush and restored numerous riparian areas and springs. This year's "Omak Work Party" is dedicated to installing 1.5 miles of fencing on the Buzzard Lake Wildlife Area.

--- Landowner of the Year: For two decades, Ann Nourse has given WDFW access to a critical monitoring site for fish populations on her property on Taneum Creek in central Washington. Despite opposition from neighbors, she has shown unwavering support for the long-term monitoring effort, earning the department's recognition.

--- Educator of the Year: Since 1996, Ginger Gumm and Daniel Poleschook Jr. of Loon Lake have spent thousands of hours observing, photographing and studying common loons in Washington. They have also been directly involved in collecting dead and dying loons and scheduling necropsies to document causes of mortality. Their reports and articles have focused public attention on the hazard posed by lead fishing weights to loons and other birds.

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