Opening of the fall chinook recreational fishing season on the Columbia River between Astoria, Ore., and Pasco has been delayed to Sept. 1 to protect Snake River salmon listed as “endangered” under federal law.
The Washington and Oregon state departments of fish and wildlife announced the delay Monday.
The fall chinook fishery between the Astoria-Megler Bridge and the Highway 395 bridge in Pasco had been scheduled to open Aug. 1. The adult salmon season above the Highway 395 bridge will open as scheduled Aug. 16.
The Buoy 10 sports fishery, at the mouth of the Columbia, will open for chinook Sept. 5. The Buoy 10 and mainstem Columbia fishery for coho wilL open Aug. 1, as scheduled.
Bruce Crawford, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department assistant director, said the aim of the delays was to protect Snake River chinook runs listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.
The approximately 600 wild fall Snake River chinook will be migrating upriver with 230,000 fall chinook headed for hatcheries and other streams in the Columbia Basin. The mixed migration makes it necessary to delay fisheries, to assure that as many Snake River fish as possible get to their destinations.
Bruce Crawford, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department assistant director, said even with the delays, 50,000 salmon and steelhead will be harvested on the Columbia by recreational fishers this year. Of those, he said eight or nine were expected to be endangered fish.
OPEN HOUSE AT REFUGE
The Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge will hold an open house Saturday from 9 a.m.-1 p.m.
The public can learn more about refuge planning, provide input on refuge goals, objectives and programs and meet the refuge staff.
It will be at the refuge headquarters, 1310 Bear Creek Road, southeast of Colville.
Info: (509) 684-8384.
WILD COHO STATUS EXAMINED
New efforts to preserve fish and an improving negotiations climate with Canada over salmon harvests may keep Washington’s wild coho stocks from being listed under the federal Endangered Species Act.
The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) announced it was proposing two Washington coho salmon stocks, in the Puget Sound/ Strait of Georgia area and the lower Columbia River and southwest Washington area, as “candidate species” under the federal law.
While California and Oregon each had coho stocks listed as “threatened,” for Washington, the announcement means the NMFS will re-evaluate the status of the stocks in a year.
“I am optimistic we are turning the corner,” said Bob Turner, director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. “It is clear Washington and the region have a strong value for fish and wildlife.”
A major factor that kept the Washington stocks off the “threatened” list is that Canada announced it will reduce the number of coho it harvests off Vancouver Island’s west coast by 600,000 fish.
Approximately 60 percent of the coho harvested off Vancouver Island are headed for Washington.
Also, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife closed all salmon fishing on the coast last year and has implemented severe restrictions on salmon fishing this year.
“If we do well with coho, we will do well by other species,” Turner said.
ELEPHANT BONES STOLEN
A thief who stole fossilized bones of an ancient elephant from a hillside near Pasco is being sought by the Washington Parks and Recreation Department.
The 12,000-year-old skull and leg bones of a mammoth was found along the Pasco-Fish Lake Trail this summer. However, before proper excavation could be arranged, a thief experienced in such endeavors skilfully removed the pieces intact, said parks director Cleve Pinnix.
To report information, contact the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, (509) 545-3501.
FOREST LANDS RECOVER
Wenatchee National Forest lands damaged last year when lightning ignited more than 40 fires are on the road to recovery due to last fall’s aerial seeding and fertilizing.
Grass is growing in most burn areas, but hikers should be aware the footing may be difficult since some of the trails have not been maintained.
Cooler temperatures and a lot of rain and snow have helped keep the fire danger down, but everyone is still encouraged to be careful with fire when in the National Forest.
CLAM DIGGERS BLUES
Several Puget Sound beaches have been closed to clam digging because harvest ceilings have been reached, the Fish and Wildlife Department said.
Included are: Potlatch DNR tidelands, Potlatch State Park, Purdy County Park, Rendsland Creek DNR tidelands, Shine Tidelands State Park, Winas Maylor, South Indian Island and Oak Bay County Park.
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