Outdoors

Idaho Fish and Game looks back at 2013

Kokanee staging to spawn stack up by the thousands in November and December in Granite Creek, a Lake Pend Oreille tributary. (Rich Landers)
Kokanee staging to spawn stack up by the thousands in November and December in Granite Creek, a Lake Pend Oreille tributary. (Rich Landers)

WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — Everybody's been looking back at 2013 for some perspective, including the Idaho Fish and Game Department.  

The revival of Lake Pend Oreille's kokanee fishery and completion of a new sockeye hatchery top the agency's highlights for the year.

Read on for the complete look back from IFG.

A LOOK BACK AT 2013 AT IDAHO FISH AND GAME

In November, Idaho Fish and Game launched a year-long celebration of the 75th anniversary of the 1938 voter initiative that created the Idaho Fish and Game Commission.

Posted on a special section of the Fish and Game website are stories, photos and videos that capture some of the significant and curious historical events that helped shape wildlife management in Idaho today.

Though it is several decades older, the modern Fish and Game department we know today was born on November 8, 1938, as a result of the state's first successful voter initiative, which passed in a landslide with a majority vote in every county.

New Commissioners

In June, Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter appointed two new members to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission.

Brad Corkill, of Cataldo, replaced Tony Mc Dermott in the Panhandle Region, and Mark Doer of Kimberly replaced Joan Hurlock of the Magic Valley.

Corkill owns Whiteman Lumber Co. in Cataldo. He has a bachelor's degree in forest engineering, and he is an avid hunter and angler and former longtime school board member in Kellogg and St. Maries. He served as Kootenai County Republican Central Committee chairman from 2006 to 2010.

“I've been a lifelong hunter and fisherman, and I want to make sure my grandchildren have as good a quality of hunt as I do right now. That's my mission, and that's my goal,” Corkill said.

Doerr has a bachelor's degree in aviation. He is a pilot and flight instructor and the owner of Precision Aviation Inc. in Twin Falls. He is active in the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and the Idaho Aviation Association.

“I do not enter the position with an agenda but rather to continue what I see as the quality stewardship and management of the state's fish and game,” Doerr said.

Both new commissioners are subject to state Senate confirmation.

A New Sockeye Hatchery

About 150 state, federal and tribal officials and several local neighbors gathered September 6, to mark the completion of the new Springfield Hatchery.

The $13.5 million facility will be capable of producing up to 1 million juvenile Snake River sockeye annually for release in the Sawtooth Basin of central Idaho, the headwaters of the Salmon River. This additional capacity will move the sockeye recovery effort from the conservation phase to a re-colonization phase where emphasis will be on returning increasing numbers of ocean-run adults to use in hatchery spawning and release to natural habitat to spawn.

The increase in adult fish may eventually mean recreational and tribal fishing seasons for Snake River sockeye.

The hatchery is funded by the Bonneville Power Administration as part of its obligation to mitigate the impact of hydropower dams on salmon and steelhead. It will be operated by Idaho Fish and Game.

The current run of sockeye into the Snake River is one of three remaining populations in the Columbia River Basin. The other two populations are in Okanogan and Wenatchee lakes, on tributaries of the upper Columbia River.

Partners in the sockeye recovery effort include Idaho, Oregon, Washington, NOAA Fisheries, the Shoshone-Bannock Tribe, Bonneville Power Administration and the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.

The new hatchery is a component of a proposed Snake River Sockeye Salmon Recovery Strategy submitted by Idaho Fish and Game to NOAA Fisheries, which implements the Endangered Species Act for salmon. NOAA's recovery plan for the Snake River sockeye salmon is anticipated in early 2014.

The Idaho Fish and Game strategy recommends incorporating hatchery facilities, captive broodstock technology, genetic support and a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation plan to maintain the current population and rebuild the number of naturally produced anadromous sockeye in the basin. The agency's goal is to re-establish a natural population that can be de-listed and even provide treaty and sport harvest opportunities.

Kokanee Fishery Restored

In 2013, for the first time since 1999, anglers were allowed to keep a limit of six kokanee in Lake Pend Oreille.

Lake trout removal efforts and an improving kokanee population have made it possible to restore a limited kokanee fishery in this that lake once supported a commercial fishery for the small, landlocked salmon.

Community Ponds Completed

Fish and Game completed and opened three popular community fishing waters: the Edson Fichter Pond in the Southeast Region, Deyo Pond in the Clearwater Region and the Northwest Passage Pond in the Southwest Region at Ponderosa State Park.

Fish and Game Headquarters Move

In mid-February, Idaho Fish and Game moved part of its Boise headquarters operation to offices in the Washington Group Plaza between Broadway and Parkcenter Boulevard.

When the lease on the building on Park Boulevard expired, Fish and Game located less expensive and more efficient offices in the Washington Group for part of its operation.

Earlier, Fish and Game had relocated the license and tag sales and public service desk across the street to the lobby of the Walnut Street headquarters building in preparation for moving part of its operation to the new offices.

Most staff offices, including public services, remain in the Walnut Street building. 




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Rich Landers

Rich Landers’ Outdoors blog


Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.


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