The final public comment period has begun for four proposed changes to Washington state’s list of sensitive, threatened and endangered species listings.
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to take action on the proposed reclassifications at its Aug. 8-9 meeting in Richland. Until then, written comments may be mailed to Harriet Allen, endangered species section manager, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, Wa., 98501-1091.
The proposed revisions would change the listing for the gray whale, the Aleutian Canada goose, the Oregon spotted frog and the Olive Ridley sea turtle.
The Oregon spotted frog would be added to the state endangered species list, the gray whale would be reclassified from endangered to sensitive status and the Aleutian Canada goose would be reclassified from endangered to threatened status. The Olive Ridley sea turtle would be dropped from consideration for listing because it is not found in Washington.
The Oregon spotted frog, which historically ranged from southern British Columbia to northern California, now is present only in Thurston County, Wash., and parts of the Columbia Gorge.
The gray whale is being recommended for downlisting because its numbers have rebounded to more than 21,000 in the eastern Pacific Ocean since gray whale hunting was prohibited. The Aleutian Canada goose is recommended for downlisting because its numbers have increased to more than 6,000 following a 20-year recovery effort.
Copies of the final status reports are available on request from Customer Service, Wildlife Management Program, 600 Capital Way N.. Olympia, Wa., 98501-1091.
The Department of Fish and Wildlife maintains a list of threatened, endangered and sensitive state species separate from the list maintained by the federal government. Presently, there are 24 endangered, eight threatened and one sensitive species on the state list.
PWCs under scrutiny
National park officials and conservationists are considering banning personal watercraft from the Green and Colorado rivers inside Utah’s Canyonlands National Park.
The small, jet-powered personal watercraft, known as PWCs, are among the fastest growing forms of outdoor recreation. But they are noisy, notorious polluters and can be obnoxious to those seeking quiet and solitude.
“River-runners hate them with a passion,” says Darren Vaughan, co-owner of Tex’s Riverways, a Moab-based canoe outfitter campaigning to ban PWCs from Canyonlands.
That attitude irks John Donaldson, director of the Personal Watercraft Industry Association, who says PWC users have just as much right to use the national parks as anybody. The association represents manufacturers of more than 200,000 PWC sold in the U.S. each year.
Sales in Utah have topped 8,000, and the PWCs can be seen zipping across most Utah lakes and reservoirs. The crafts can reach speeds of 70 mph with noise levels approaching those of a jetliner takeoff.
On the Green and Colorado rivers in Canyonlands, the appearance of PWCs is a recent phenomenon and not yet too common. Opponents want to keep it that way.
And so may the National Park Service, which is revisiting its river management plan for the Green and Colorado rivers, which converge within the park’s borders.
Canyonlands Superintendent Walt Dabney is noncommittal about whether the park will ban or just limit PWCs. But it is clear he is not a big fan of the vehicles.
“Have you been down the river? Would you want it to be full of (PWCs)?” he asked.
“It’s not full of (them) right now,” Dabney said.
Some park visitors got a glimpse of what it might be like if the PWCs were given unlimited access to the park earlier this year when 40 or so craft entered the park via the Green.
Vaughan said the riders were rude, abusive and that the craft posed a “constant loud and obnoxious water hazard.”
More than 100 people have written letters to Dabney supporting an outright ban. Among them is Vaughan, who finds himself in something of a contradictory position because his business uses “jet boats” - huge, motorized rafts - to shuttle clients up the Colorado River after they have canoed down the Green.
Jet boats, he maintains, aren’t as obnoxious as the smaller PWCs.
PWC’s opponents’ most-cited reason for wanting to ban the watercraft is to preserve solitude.
Kayak race on tap
The Sun Mountain Marathon Canoe and Kayak Race has been scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 17, at Patterson Lake near Winthrop, Wash. Registration, at $7 per racer, is the day of the race only, beginning at 8 a.m. Competition in eight categories begins at 9 a.m.
For more information, telephone Mac Dunstan, at (206) 241-6521 or (206) 527-4433, in Seattle or Karla Segale at (509) 996-3685 in Winthrop.