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FISHERIES — Idaho's endangered run of sockeye salmon run upstream 900 miles inland,gaining 6,000 feet of elevation on the way to spawn hear the Sawtooth Mountains. They're determined fish, but they've had a tough summer in a year of warmer than normal water and record-low flows.
From the brink of extinction, the world’s longest-migrating, highest-climbing, southern-most run of sockeye salmon has been making a steady comeback. But the partnership of state, federal, and tribal fishery scientists had to switch from restoration mode to rescue mode this year.
The anadromous Snake River sockeye in the video below is one of 51 collected this year at Lower Granite Dam, the last dam sockeye pass on their way to spawn in Redfish Lake in central Idaho.
The 51 were collected as an emergency rescue effort and driven to the Eagle Fish Hatchery of the Idaho Department of Fish and Game near Boise. Only 50 additional sockeye have been collected after reaching trapping sites near Redfish Lake on their own. Warrm water in the Columbia devastated the sockeye run as the fish returned from the ocean in July. In comparison, 1,516 were trapped near Redfish Lake last year.
From just 16 wild adult fish returning from the ocean between 1991 and 1998, plus 886 wild smolts that were collected from Redfish Lake and surrounding habitats between 1991 and 1993, and 26 “residual” (non-ocean-going) sockeye collected in the same area, fish habitat and production experts and geneticists mounted a program that today is on the cutting edge of species recovery in the world. As genetic techniques have improved over the last 30 years, the sockeye rescue effort is able to control individual fish parentage with such precision that fish fish produced today are nearly identical to the founding 16 wild fish.
To date, more than 10,000 adult descendants have been raised from the original 16 wild adults.
Biologist warns of climate warming effects on Idaho's wild salmon
At a Trout Unlimited meeting last week in Idaho, Bert Bowler, a fish biologist and former Columbia River policy coordinator for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, said warming waters in the Pacific Ocean, the Columbia and lower Snake, pose a risk to the survival of the wild salmon that migrate to Idaho.
—Idaho Mountain Express
FISHING — Idaho will open fall chinook salmon fishing season on parts of the Snake, Clearwater, and Salmon rivers on Tuesday, Sept. 1, as well as the second-ever coho season on the Clearwater River.
The 2015 fall chinook forecast is 37,000 hatchery and naturally-produced fall chinook to the Snake River basin.
The Snake River will open for fall chinook fishing from the Washington-Idaho border upstream to Hells Canyon Dam. Washington also is opening its stretch of the Snake to fall chinook harvest on Sept. 1.
Fishing on the Idaho portion of the Snake River from the Cliff Mountain Rapids (about a mile downstream of Hells Canyon Dam) will be open until Oct.31, but could be closed sooner depending on the actual number of fish that return and the amount of harvest. The stretch between Hells Canyon Dam and Cliff Mountain Rapids is scheduled to remain open until Nov. 17, or until further notice.
The Clearwater River, from its mouth upstream to Memorial Bridge in Lewiston; and the Salmon River, from its mouth upstream about three-fourths of a mile to Eye of the Needle Rapids, will be open until Oct. 31, or until further notice.
A valid fishing license and salmon permit are required to fish for fall chinook. Only adipose-clipped salmon may be kept. The daily bag limit is six adult fall chinook; the possession limit is 18. There is no season limit.
Only adult fall chinook (24-inches and longer) must be recorded on the angler’s salmon permit. There is no daily, possession, or season limit on jacks (those less than 24 inches).
Coho fishing will be a nice bonus to Idaho anglers as fisheries managers predict 5,000-18,000 "silvers" will return to Idaho, enough to provide a tribal and non-tribal sport fishery.
The coho season will run through Nov. 15 on the mainstem and Middle Fork Clearwater River from the mouth upstream to Clear Creek near Kooskia, and on the North Fork Clearwater River downstream from Dworshak Dam.
Anglers can keep two coho salmon per day and have 6 in possession. The season limit is 10.
Coho released from the Nez Perce Tribe's hatchery program have not had their adipose fins clipped. Anglers may keep coho salmon with an intact adipose fin, but fall chinook salmon with adipose fins must be released unharmed.
FISHING — Washington stretches of the Snake River will open for harvest of fall chinook salmon sportfishing on Tuesday, Sept. 1.
Here are the details from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Locations: Waters of the Columbia River from the railroad bridge between Burbank and Kennewick upstream approximately 2.1 miles to the first power line crossing upstream of the navigation light on the point of Sacajawea State Park (Snake River Confluence Protection Area) and on the Snake River from the mouth to the Oregon State line (approximately seven miles upstream of the mouth of the Grande Ronde River).
Dates: Sept. 1 through Oct. 31, 2015.
Species affected: Chinook salmon.
Reason for action: The 2015 Columbia River forecasted return of upriver bright adults is 626,000, with a significant portion of these fish expected to return to the Snake River. Significant steelhead fisheries also occur in the area and some hatchery fall chinook are expected to be caught during steelhead fishing. Retention of hatchery fall chinook is not expected to increase impacts to Endangered Species Act listed wild fall chinook. Therefore, adipose clipped hatchery fall chinook that are caught can be retained in the Snake River.
Other information: The salmon daily harvest limit in the Washington portion of the Snake River is six (6) adipose fin-clipped fall chinook adults (24 inches in length and larger), and six (6) adipose fin-clipped jack fall chinook (less than 24 inches). Minimum size for chinook that can be retained in the Snake River is 12 inches.
Harvest of hatchery chinook (adults and jacks) is allowed seven days per week. Anglers must cease fishing for salmon and steelhead for the day once they have retained 3 hatchery steelhead – regardless of whether the salmon daily limit has been retained. Adipose fin-clipped fish must have a healed scar at the location of the missing fin. All chinook and steelhead with unclipped adipose fins must be immediately released unharmed. In addition, anglers must use barbless hooks when fishing for chinook or steelhead in the Snake River and the Snake River Confluence Protection Area. Anglers cannot remove any chinook or steelhead from the water unless it is retained as part of the daily bag limit.
Refer to the 2015/2016 sport fishing rules pamphlet for other regulations, including possession limits, safety closures, etc.
FISHING — The fall steelhead harvest season opens Tuesday, Sept. 1, on Idaho's Snake, Salmon and Little Salmon rivers.
- The Snake River will be open from the Washington State line at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater Rivers upstream to Hells Canyon Dam.
- The Salmon River will be open from its mouth upstream to the posted boundary 100 yards downstream of Sawtooth Hatchery.
- The Little Salmon River will be open from its mouth upstream to the U.S. Highway 95 Bridge near Smokey Boulder road.
The limits on these waters are three per day and nine in possession.
The Clearwater upstream of the U.S. Highway 12 Memorial Bridge, the Middle Fork, North Fork and South Fork Clearwater rivers are catch-and-release only until Oct. 15, when the harvest season in those sections opens.
The harvest season already is open the two-mile stretch of the lower Clearwater River from its mouth to the U.S. Highway 12 Memorial Bridge near Lewiston.
The limits on the Clearwater are two per day and six in possession.
Anglers may keep 20 steelhead for the fall season, which ends Dec. 31. Only steelhead with a clipped adipose fin, evidenced by a healed scar, may be kept. Any steelhead that has an intact adipose fin must be released unharmed.
See details on Idaho's 2015 steelhead fishing rules.
With the unusually warm river temperatures in the Columbia and Snake rivers right now – as much as 6 degrees warmer than usual – Idaho Department of Fish and Game biologists took the unusual step of capturing migrating adult sockeye salmon in a trap at the Lower Granite Dam southwest of Pullman, Wash., and hauling them 320 miles from Washington state to a state fish hatchery in Eagle. "This is giving them the best chance for survival," said Pete Hassemer, Idaho Fish and Game salmon and steelhead fisheries manager.
Idaho Statesman reporter Rocky Barker reports that Northwest rivers are so warm that salmon and steelhead are dying in tributaries such as the Willamette and Deschutes rivers in Oregon. Oregon fisheries officials are now limiting fishing for trout, salmon, steelhead and sturgeon statewide to protect the fish from stress.
It’s a particular concern for endangered wild salmon and steelhead, as a federal judge decides whether enough is being done to keep them from going extinct. You can read Barker’s full report here via the Associated Press. Meanwhile, S-R reporter Becky Kramer reports that warm temperatures have caused significant warmups in North Idaho lake waters, with Lake Coeur d'Alene in the 70s and smaller bodies of water, including Lake Cocolalla, up into the 80s. While the warmer temperatures are a plus for swimmers, they’re bad for water quality, Kramer reports. Hot water stresses fish, spurs plant growth and depletes oxygen levels. Scientists are seeing signs of problems, particularly at Lake Coeur d’Alene’s shallow southern end; you can read the full story here.
FISHING — As summer chinook salmon and sockeye are moving up the Columbia, the fat lady is about to sing for the 2015 spring chinook season. Here's the announcement from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:
Action: Spring chinook salmon fishing to close.
A) Below Ice Harbor: Snake River from the South Bound Highway 12 Bridge near Pasco upstream about 7 miles to the fishing restriction boundary below Ice Harbor Dam;
B) Below Little Goose: Snake River from Texas Rapids boat launch (south side of the river upstream of the mouth of Tucannon River) to the fishing restriction boundary below Little Goose Dam. This zone includes the rock and concrete area between the juvenile bypass return pipe and Little Goose Dam along the south shoreline of the facility (includes the walkway area locally known as “the Wall” in front of the juvenile collection facility);
C) Clarkston: Snake River from the downstream edge of the large power lines crossing the Snake River (just upstream from West Evans Road on the south shore) upstream about 3.5 miles to the Washington state line (from the east levee of the Greenbelt boat launch in Clarkston northwest across the Snake River to the WA/ID boundary waters marker on the Whitman County shore).
Dates: Locations B and C will close one hour after sunset Saturday, June 27. Location A will close one hour after sunset Tuesday, June 30.
Reason for action: Under the current United States vs. Oregon management agreement, spring chinook fisheries on the Washington portion of the Snake River are not allowed to extend into July. This action will facilitate an orderly closure to the 2015 Snake River spring chinook fishery.
FISHING — Spring chinook salmon fishing will reopen on three locations in the Snake River on a rotating schedule. Here's the scoop just announced by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife:
A) Below Ice Harbor: Snake River from the South Bound Highway 12 Bridge near Pasco upstream about 7 miles to the fishing restriction boundary below Ice Harbor Dam;
B) Below Little Goose: Snake River from Texas Rapids boat launch (south side of the river upstream of the mouth of Tucannon River) to the fishing restriction boundary below Little Goose Dam. This zone includes the rock and concrete area between the juvenile bypass return pipe and Little Goose Dam along the south shoreline of the facility (includes the walkway area locally known as “the wall” in front of the juvenile collection facility);
C) Clarkston: Snake River from the downstream edge of the large power lines crossing the Snake River (just upstream from West Evans Road on the south shore) upstream about 3.5 miles to the Washington state line (from the east levee of the Greenbelt boat launch in Clarkston northwest across the Snake River to the WA/ID boundary waters marker on the Whitman County shore).
Dates: Each area is open three days per week until further notice.
- Areas B and C (Below Little Goose Dam and near Clarkston) open Thursday, June 4, and will be open only Thursday through Saturday each week.
- Area A (Below Ice Harbor Dam) open Sunday, June 7, and will be open only Sunday through Tuesday each week.
Daily Limits: 6 hatchery chinook (adipose fin clipped), of which no more than two may be adult chinook salmon. For all areas open for chinook salmon harvest, anglers must cease fishing for chinook when the hatchery adult limit has been retained for the day.
Possession Limits: During these fisheries possession limits for spring chinook salmon will be increased to allow three daily limits in fresh form.
Reason for action:
1) Based on a May 26 in-season run update, and a recent upstream shift of harvest allocation from the lower Columbia River, spring chinook fisheries can reopen in the Snake River on a 3-day rotating schedule (three days per week per location).
2) An enhanced daily bag limit for chinook will be in place for this fishery to allow anglers opportunity to harvest available hatchery fish prior to warmer water temperatures anticipated by mid-June. Chinook possession limits for this fishery have been increased to three daily limits in fresh form, in an effort to promote this fishery as a destination-based opportunity. This action will allow anglers to possess a reasonable amount of fish during their stay.
Other Information: The minimum size of any retained chinook salmon is 12 inches. Jacks are less than 24 inches long. The adipose fin-clipped chinook salmon that can be retained must have a healed scar at the location of the missing fin. All chinook salmon with the adipose fin intact must be immediately released unharmed. All adult steelhead must be released unharmed through June 15. Beginning June 16 up to 3 hatchery (adipose fin clipped) steelhead may be retained on the Snake River.
In addition: Anglers fishing for all species, in the locations open for chinook salmon, during the days of the week the salmon fishery is open in that area, must use barbless hooks. Only single point barbless hooks are allowed when fishing for sturgeon.
A night closure is in effect for salmon and sturgeon. It is unlawful to use any hook larger than 5/8 inch (point of hook to shank) when fishing for all species except sturgeon. Anglers cannot remove any chinook salmon or steelhead from the water unless it is retained as part of the daily bag limit.
Refer to the 2014-2015 Fishing in Washington Sport Fishing Rules pamphlet for other regulations, including safety closures, CLOSED WATERS, etc.
FISHING — How long it takes for salmon to travel from Bonneville Dam to Idaho?
Joe DuPont, Idaho Fish and Game regional fisheries manager in Lewiston looked at data and came up with answers to that often-asked question from curious anglers.
On average, an adult spring chinook takes about 18 days to swim 253 river miles from Bonneville Dam to Lower Granite dam, including passage over a total of four Columbia River dams and four more on the Snake River.
After crossing Lower Granite Dam, the salmon need another day or two up the Snake to reach Idaho, for a total of about 19-20 days in average flows, DuPont said.
This year, with lower than normal flows, spring chinook are making it faster to Idaho —about 13 days.
Considering the fish counts at dams, "the majority of the chinook salmon destined for the Clearwater Region will all be in Idaho in two weeks," he said Tuesday.
Salmon River anglers wonder how long it takes their share of the Snake River salmon run to travel farther upstream, from Lower Granite Dam to Riggins.
This journey varies more widely depending upon flows and water clarity, DuPont said.
"When flows are high and dirty it can cause chinook to stop migrating. In fact there is evidence that the Slide Rapid in the lower Salmon River can greatly delay migrations in higher flows."
However, on a year like this, when river flows are low, the fish will get there fast, he said:
- 5-13 days to run 90 miles from the Idaho state line to Rice Creek Bridge.
- 7-20 days to run 135 miles from the Idaho state line to Little Salmon River.
"I suspect on a year like this it will be closer to the lower end of the range," DuPont said.
Faster travel times tend to translate into slower fishing, he said.
"With these lower flows, fish are moving faster and more up the middle of the river making fishing more difficult," he said.
"Fish are already showing up at Kooskia Hatchery, and PIT tagged fish are passing the array in the lower South Fork Clearwater River. I suspect by next week we will have documented harvest all the way upstream to around Kooskia."
FISHING — Salmon fishermen in the Little Goose Dam area of the Snake River will get another shot at spring chinook for three days starting Thursday, May 7, thanks to an unexpected bounty of fish headed upstream.
The 2015 spring chinook salmon forecast was updated last week to 220,000 into the Columbia River.
It was upgraded again on Monday to 241,000, said John Whalen, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife regional fisheries manager in Spokane.
"The Little Goose area will open Thursday for its three-day rotation through Saturday," he said Monday night, noting that the department will be posting a clarification on the fishing season updates portion of its website sometime today, May 5.
That means all four of Washington's Snake River spring chinook zones will be in the action this week as announced in April.
- Ice Harbor and Lower Granite areas are open through today.
- Little Goose and Clarkston stretches will be open Thursday through Saturday.
FISHING — There's not a discouraging word to be found in the forecast, starting with this weekend, for spring chinook fishing in Idaho.
Here are highlights from today's spring chinook update by Joe DuPont, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manager in Lewiston:
- As expected, catch rates were low for last weeks salmon opener in Idaho, as the fish were just getting here.
- All the fish we documented being caught were around Lewiston; about 16 adult fish.
- One fish measured 40 inches long and we heard of another that was pushing 30 pounds.
- By this weekend there should be 10 times as many fish in Idaho as we saw during the opener; fishing should be much better.
- It wouldn’t surprise me if this weekend people catch salmon in the Clearwater River upstream to Orofino and in the Snake River below Hells Canyon Dam.
- Those of you who like to fish the Rapid River run may have to wait another week or two before the fish start arriving in catchable numbers.
- Clearwater river sections have been given harvest quotas developed by anglers in an effort to fairly distribute harvest throughout the different communities in the Clearwater basin. Sections can close as quotas are taken.
- I hope you are all getting as excited as I am about this Chinook run. My excitement certainly got the best of me as I went out and bought a new rod and have started loading up on tackle.
Toby Wyatt of Reel Time Fishing is based out of Clarkston, but heads to the lower Columbia River to fish for springers before they run upstream to Idaho.
"We have finished up our Columbia River spring chinook season and will be moving onto the Snake and Clearwater Rivers for this weekend," he said today. "We expect to start seeing catch rates on the Clearwater to pick up this weekend and continue to get better throughout May,"
Here's more for Wyatt's report:
"These fish were hard to catch on the Columbia this year due to the low and clear water, as they were screaming up river past our baits. Our best days we were hooking eight-nine fish.
"Salmon are piling over Bonneville Dam in great numbers and we are above our 10-year average. To date we have seen 114,000 cross Bonneville, most of these early fish are bound for the Clearwater and Salmon Rivers and their tributaries.
"Lower Granite Dam, the last dam before they reach the Clearwater has seen more than 7,300 fish.
"The Clearwater is going to fish awesome this year with the low water."
To put the 2015 springer run into perspective from the beginning — that is from Bonneville Dam, the first dam the fish encounter as they head up from the ocean into the Columbia 'River — here are today's "factoids" from Joe Hymer, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife salmon specialist in Vancouver.
Spring Chinook counts at Bonneville Dam through April 28:
- The 114,163 adults are the 9th highest total since at least 1939. The record is 301,293 fish in 2001.
- If the dam counts continue to remain strong like the 17,045 adults counted yesterday, all but the record is within reach.
- The 1,085 jacks are the 6th highest total since at least 1980. The record is 5,114 fish in 2000.
- Based on the 24 four-year-old PIT tags detected at Bonneville Dam yesterday, nearly 950 of the 17,045 adults counted were originated from Carson National Fish Hatchery (on Washington's Wind River).
FISHERIES — While most anglers are thinking of the spring chinook heading upstream in the Columbia and Snake Rivers, water managers are thinking of young salmon that need a boost get get downstream through reservoirs to the ocean.
To help young fish pass the dams safely, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has begun spilling more water at the four lower Snake River and four lower Columbia River dams to facilitate the timely and safe passage of juvenile salmon and steelhead.
The federally required spill began at the lower Snake River dams April 3 and will pick up at the lower Columbia River dams starting April 10.
Juvenile fish survival past dams has increased as a result of dam modifications, such as surface passage, juvenile bypass systems, turbine improvements and more effective and efficient spill operations, said Rock Peters, senior program manager for the Corps’ Northwestern Division.
Nature isn't cooperating so much in the best interest of salmon and steelhead this year.
The most recent water supply forecast issued by the Northwest River Forecast Center for the Columbia River Basin (Apr–Aug) is 84 percent of normal as measured at The Dalles Dam and 70 percent of normal for the Snake River Basin, (Apr–Jul), as measured at Lower Granite Dam.
- See information on the federal salmon and steelhead recovery efforts in the region
RIVERS — A panel discussion titled Lower Snake River Dam Breaching: Embracing the Inevitable. Saving Money, Saving Salmon is scheduled for noon on Monday, March 23, in the University of Idaho Commons (Whitewater Room) in Moscow.
The free event is sponsored by the Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition, in conjunction with the University of Idaho Ecology & Conservation Biology Club and Friends of the Clearwater.
- Jim Waddell, retired Deputy District Engineer Walla Walla District -Army Corps of Engineers,
- Kevin Lewis, Conservation Policy Director Idaho Rivers United,
- Sam Mace, Inland Northwest Director Save our Wild Salmon
- Linwood Laughy, dam breaching advocate.
Organizers say the panel will examine the decline of commercial navigation on the lower Snake River, the high costs of operating and maintaining the dams, replacing hydropower produced by the dams, potential extinction of wild chinook and the socio-economic benefits of a free-flowing Snake River.
A second discussion will take place at 7 p.m. at the Unitarian Church of the Palouse, 420 E. Second St. in Moscow.
WATERSPORTS — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says maintenance and repair work will cause closures at all navigation locks at federal dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers in the coming weeks.
The agency will begin closing locks at dams this week.
The affected dams include Bonneville, The Dalles, John Day and McNary dams on the Columbia River; and the Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose and Lower Granite dams on the Snake River. The Army Corps owns and operates the structures.
The Corps’ Portland District locks — at Bonneville, The Dalles and John Day — are scheduled to resume service on March 21. The rest of the locks, in the Walla Walla District, will be closed until April 4.
Public access to the facilities may be affected.
RIVERS — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers today completed maintenance dredging in the barging channel and two port berthing areas in the Snake and Clearwater rivers where accumulated sediment had interfered with navigation.
"Dredging was performed to meet a current immediate need to re-establish the federal navigation channel to its Congressionally authorized dimensions of 250 feet wide by 14 feet deep at Minimum Operating Pool (MOP) elevation," the Corps said in a release.
Dredging began Jan. 12 after protests by fish-related groups and a court ruling about the environmental impacts of the project.
Maintenance dredging was completed this year in accordance with the Corps' comprehensive Programmatic Sediment Management Plan (PSMP) during the annual winter in-water work window, Dec. 15 through Feb. 28, when salmonid fish are less likely to be present in the river, although steelhead continue to move over the Snake River dams.
Maintenance dredging last occurred in the lower Snake River navigation channel in the winter of 2005-2006.
"Navigation on the lower Snake River is now safer," said Lt. Col. Timothy Vail, Walla Walla District Commander. "We considered potential alternatives, determined dredging was the only effective short-term tool for addressing problem sediment."
Dredging initially took place at the downstream lock approach of Ice Harbor Dam, then later on the Lower Granite Lock and Dam pool at the confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers in the Lewiston-Clarkston area, including Port of Lewiston and Port of Clarkston berthing areas.
The ports obtained their own dredging permits and paid for dredging of their berthing areas.
The Corps says dredged materials were used to construct additional shallow-water fish habitat near Knoxway Canyon (River Mile 116), about 23 miles downstream of Clarkston.
FISHING — The first spring chinook of 2015 was recorded passing over Bonneville Dam on Sunday, Feb. 8.
We're a few months away from "Game on!" but this is a wake up call for Columbia River anglers.
Much more surprising was last week's passage of a chrome-bright sockeye salmon.
A counter at Bonneville reported the 20-inch-long sockeye came through the dam at 6:30 p.m. on Feb 3.
Sockeye normally do not arrive until May and peak in June.
This is either the third or fourth year in a row an early-bird sockeye has been noted at Bonneville. A record-breaking run of sockeye was recorded in the Columbia last year.
FISHING — Anglers fishing the Clearwater River are enjoying a healthy increase in the number of steelhead returning, according to the Idaho Fish and Game Department.
After a lackluster season in 2013-2014, the number of “B-run” steelhead is up in 2015, and anglers are taking advantage.
Creel surveys and angler reports for the week ending on Jan. 25 indicate good success among anglers fishing the Clearwater with 265 anglers reported catching 277 steelhead.
"Numerous anglers have reported catching their daily limit of three hatchery steelhead this month; in some cases harvesting their limit within a few hours," according to the regional fisheries report.
Overall, anglers averaged one fish every five hours during the seven day period, with much of the action taking place on the weekend.
North Fork Clearwater anglers averaged 10 hours per fish during the week of ending Jan. 25. Anglers are not only catching fish in large numbers, they are also catching some large steelhead; as long as 37 inches.
Fishery managers expect angler success to remain high throughout the Clearwater drainage over the next three months. Anglers are also finding steelhead in the Salmon and Snake Rivers, and catch rates are likely to improve as water temperatures rise during the approach of spring.
- See more information on steelhead fishing in Idaho
RIVERS — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has announced it will proceed with a controversial plan to dredge sediment in the lower Snake River on or about Jan. 12, as a result of a favorable ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington in Seattle.
In a lawsuit filed by a coalition of environmental groups and the Nez Perce Tribe (Plaintiffs) the Court denied the Plaintiffs request for a preliminary injunction that would have stopped needed maintenance of the federal navigation channel and related port berthing areas.
The Inland Port and Navigation Group and the Columbia Snake River Irrigators Association intervened in the lawsuit in support of the Corps. The Corps itself made a bold bet it would win the suit.
The Corps will dredge this year in accordance with its comprehensive Programmatic Sediment Management Plan during the annual winter in-water work window when salmonid fish are less likely to be present in the river.
"There is a current immediate need to reestablish the federal navigation channel at congressionally authorized dimensions," said Lt. Col. Timothy Vail, Walla Walla District Commander. "After consideration of potential alternatives, we determined that dredging is the only effective short-term method available for doing so once sediment has accumulated to the point of interfering with navigation."
Congress directed establishment of the navigation channel in the Lower Snake River at 250 feet wide by 14 feet deep at Minimum Operating Pool (MOP). The Corps of Engineers is responsible for maintaining the channel at those dimensions, he said.
Maintenance dredging last occurred in the lower Snake River navigation channel in the winter of 2005-2006. Sediment accumulation has since encroached on certain areas of the federal navigation channel and port berthing areas.
Environmental groups and the Nez Perce Tribe have filed a lawsuit to stop proposed dredging of the lower Snake River to aid barge traffic to Lewiston, the AP reports. The lawsuit, filed Monday in federal court in Seattle, challenges the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' approval of a $6.7 million dredging project scheduled to begin next month. Opponents contend barge traffic on the lower Snake River is declining and doesn't justify the dredging, which they say will hurt salmon, steelhead and Pacific lamprey; click below for a full report from AP reporter Nick Geranios in Spokane.
FISHING — A decision by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin dredging a silted-in shipping channel in the Snake River near Lewiston is facing a court challenge by Northwest fishing and conservation groups and the Nez Perce Tribe.
The groups said in a media release that they're "taking legal action against costly, illegal dredging on the lower Snake River aimed at propping up an outdated, environmentally destructive, money-losing waterway."
Earthjustice, a non-profit environmental law firm Earthjustice, filed a complaint Monday with Seattle’s U.S. District Court challenging the Corps’ approval of a $6.7 million lower Snake River dredging project scheduled to begin in mid-December.
The legal action is backed by Idaho Rivers United, Pacific Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, Institute of Fisheries Resources, Washington Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club and Friends of the Clearwater.
- A larger group of fish and river advocacy groups had filed these comments on the Environmental Impact Statement for the Corps plan.
Following is text from the media release stating the position of the environmental groups:
Dredging behind lower Granite Dam is the centerpiece of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Walla Walla district’s ill-advised plan for maintaining the little-used barging corridor between Pasco, Wash., and Lewiston, Idaho.
Though shipping on the Columbia River waterway remains robust, traffic on the lower Snake is so low that it qualifies for the Corps’ own “negligible use” project category.
The Corps’ Walla Walla District released its draft sediment management plan two years ago, asserting that dredging would provide $25 million in benefits but offering no supporting economic analysis.
Fishing and conservation groups and the Nez Perce Tribe have challenged the Corps plan because it puts salmon, steelhead, and Pacific lamprey at serious risk, purposefully dodges any real look at alternatives to dredging, and ignores the shaky economic justification for the barge corridor created by the four lower Snake River dams.
Despite thousands of comments noting the plan’s glaring errors and omissions, the Corps last week issued a record of decision adopting the plan. The agency immediately signed a contract with a dredging contractor to begin work Dec. 15.
“The lower Snake waterway exacts an enormous price from taxpayers as well as from wild salmon, steelhead, and Pacific Lamprey”, said Earthjustice attorney Steve Mashuda. “The Corps has failed to look at any alternatives to dredging this winter, and fails to provide an honest assessment of the fiscal and environmental costs involved in shoring up this out-of-date waterway.”
“These four dams are responsible for pushing the Snake River’s wild salmon and steelhead to the edge of extinction.” said SOS executive director Joseph Bogaard. “Climate change and other factors are making the lower Snake River dams ever more deadly to migrating fish while the economic justification for this waterway is slipping away.”
Over the past 15 years, the lower Snake waterway’s freight volume has declined 64 percent as farmers and other shippers move their products to trucks or rail. Maintenance expenses, meanwhile, have surged. Lewiston faces a chronic crisis of sedimentation and U.S. taxpayers now effectively subsidize every barge leaving Lewiston to the tune of about $18,000.
Navigation is the primary purpose of these dams. They generate significant power primarily in the spring, when power demand and prices are low and the Northwest is awash in hydropower— so much so that wind farms are often forced to shut down.
“Every year, the federal government spends increasing amounts of tax dollars to prop up four obsolete dams on the lower Snake River,” said IRU Conservation Director Kevin Lewis. “Our specific claims include violations of the National Environmental Policy Act, and the Clean Water Act.”
“Little thought has been given to the long-term economic and environmental consequences of long-term dredging,” said Gary MacFarlane of Friends of the Clearwater.
RIVERS — Dredging in the Snake River at the ports of Lewiston and Clarkston could begin as early as mid December.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Walla Walla District says it's awarded a $6.7 million contract for maintenance dredging of the lower Snake River federal navigation channel and associated berthing areas at the the two ports near the Idaho-Washington border.
The contract was awarded to American Construction Co., Inc., of Tacoma.
The maintenance dredging is planned for the "winter in-water work window," Dec. 15 to Feb. 28, when salmonid fish are less likely to be present in the river.
The Corp worked for years and stirred up controversy before releasing the long-term, comprehensive Lower Snake River Programmatic Sediment Management Plan last week. The plan calls for reestablishing the congressionally authorized dimensions of the Lower Snake River federal navigation channel.
Dredging is the only effective short-term tool available for maintaining the federal navigation channel to authorized dimensions of 250 feet wide by 14 feet deep at minimum operating pool, Corps officials say.
The contract specifies dredging of about 400,000 cubic yards in four areas:
- the navigation lock approach at Ice Harbor Dam;
- confluence of the Snake and Clearwater rivers;
- Port of Lewiston berthing area; and
- Port of Clarkston berthing area.
The Corps plans to use the dredged material to create shallow-water habitat for juvenile salmon at Snake River mile 116, located just upstream of Knoxway Canyon and 23 miles downstream of Clarkston.
FISHING — The first coho fishing season on Idaho's Clearwater River has been capturing a lot of attention this weeke, but fishing guides correctly point out that steelheading — the bread and butter of late fall fishing in the Snake and Clearwater rivers — is doing just fine.
Here's the latest report from Toby Wyatt of Reel Time Fishing based out of Clarkston:
The Clearwater has been kicking out a lot of nice big B-run fish ranging anywhere from 12 to 18 pounds. This time of year these fish are hot and make some line screaming runs and acrobatic leaps. Dam counts are looking excellent for a great season. An email from Joe DuPont, IDF&G Clearwater Fishery Manager states that as of 10/7/14, over 9,000 hatchery Steelhead have passed over Lower Granite Dam (based on detected PIT tags) that are destined for the Clearwater River. This is about triple of what we saw last year at this same time and 30% more than we saw 2 years ago.
One of the exciting things about the run this year is the vast majority of them are the larger 2-ocean fish unlike last year when many were the smaller 1-ocean fish. To date, over 25,000 Clearwater River bound hatchery Steelhead have passed over Bonneville Dam, so there are still a lot on their way. This means there will be no need to for emergency rules like we implemented last year to protect brood stock. The limit on the Clearwater for steelhead is 2 per day with no size restrictions.
Another exciting development on the Clearwater is that with combined efforts from the Nez Perce Tribe and IDF&G, we are allowed to catch and harvest Coho Salmon. This is the first time in the history of the State of Idaho where sportsmen are able to harvest Coho. The limit is 2 per day and the season is open until November 16th, 2014. Our boats have been landing a few Coho’s a day while targeting Steelhead, which is a nice added bonus to the day.
Fishing should continue to pick up from here on out.
FISHING — Steelhead anglers have thousands of good reasons to fish the Clearwater River, not the least of which is the opening of the catch-and-keep season upstream of Lewiston that starts on Oct. 15.
Here's a just-posted report from Joe DuPont, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manager in Lewiston:
As of today (Oct. 7), more than 9,000 hatchery Steelhead have passed over Lower Granite Dam destined for the Clearwater River (based on detected PIT tags). This is about triple of what we saw last year at this same time and 30% more than we saw 2 years ago.
It’s not quite what we had in 2010 and 2011 when around 13,000 fish had passed over Lower Granite Dam by this same time, but that is certainly enough to provide some good fishing.
The numbers of Clearwater River bound fish passing over Lower Granite Dam really picked up the last 5 days, and these fish should start moving from the Snake into the Clearwater anytime now.
One of the exciting things about the run this year is the vast majority of them are the larger 2-ocean fish unlike last year when many were the smaller 1-ocean fish. To date, more than 25,000 Clearwater River bound hatchery Steelhead have passed over Bonneville Dam, so there are still a lot on their way. This means there will be no need to for emergency rules like we implemented last year to protect brood stock.
Idaho's Steelhead rules can be viewed online.
See this story for more detail on this year's steelhead and fall chinook runs.
So there you have it. Yet another great outdoor activity to do in October. Now you just have decide what to do…..Salmon, Steelhead, Sturgeon, Deer, Elk, upland game birds. October is such a great time in the Clearwater Region.
UPDATED 11:25 with photo of the big steelhead Shawn Barron caught on Clearwater River (inset) shortly after his son, Tyler, caught the big fall chinook (above). That's what I call a good day of fishing!
FISHING — The nice thing about fishing in the lower Clearwater River this time of year is that the fish you catch are either big or bigger.
Steelhead have been attracting anglers to the waters near Lewiston since July, when the fish started trickling over Lower Granite Dam in decent numbers and up the Snake River toward Idaho.To date, more than 22,000 steelhead have passed over Lower Granite Dam (since June 1) and the fish continue to swim over their last Snake River hurdle at the rate of about 1,300 a day.
But now fall chinook are showing in bigger numbers as a forecast record run pushes into the Columbia River system. Indeed, the numbers of fall chinook over Lower Granite is higher than the number of steelhead.
"We are anticipating that the fall chinook salmon returning run to Idaho will be the second largest we have seen in quite some time last year was the largest," said Joe DuPont, Idaho Fish and Game Department regional fisheries manager in Lewiston.
"We are expecting around 50,000 adults to pass over Lower Granite Dam and what is even more exciting is this year the majority of the adult fish are three-ocean fish that typically range from 18-22 pounds.
"On average, more than 2,000 adult chinook a day have been passing over Lower Granite Dam for the past week. Soon we should exceed 3,000 adult chinook a day. Catch rates for Chinook have been quite slow, but they should pick up with all these fish starting to move in."
Steelhead fishing also has been fairly slow, he said, noting that surveys pegged success at 20 hours per fish in the Snake River and Clearwater River downstream of Memorial Bridge where fish can be harvested.
But expect these catch rates to improve as more fish move into Idaho.
"Steelhead fishing in the catch-and-release area of the Clearwater River (upstream of Memorial Bridge) has been fairly good with catch rates around 5 to 6 hours a fish," DuPont said.
"One interesting this about this year’s A run is that over half the fish that have passed over Lower Granite Dam are two-ocean fish running 9-13 pounds," he said. The A run is the term used for the earlier arriving steelhead that are typically dominated by one-ocean fish and are mainly destined for the Salmon and Grande Ronde rivers and up the Snake to Hells Canyon Dam.
"So, although the catch rates haven’t been all that great, people have been pleased with the size of the fish they are catching. Now that the B run (later arriving and generally larger two-ocean steelhead bound mostly for the Clearwater River Basin) is just starting to reach Idaho, the size of the fish should just get bigger.
Fall chinook anglers in Idaho often wonder why "wild" fish are protected when they seem to catch more "unclipped" salmon than "clipped" salmon produced at hatcheries. DuPont explains:
- Only about 30% of the chinook passing over Lower Granite Dam are fin-clipped. That is because a lot of wild fish are returning and because around half the hatchery fall chinook released in Idaho are clipped. This was done to help build the run when numbers were low. Thus, anglers will have to catch around four unmarked fish for every clipped fish that can be harvested.
Another question commonly asked: “Why can't anglers harvest fall chinook upstream of Memorial Bridge?” DuPont explains:
- First, only about 25 percent of the hatchery fish released into the Clearwater River are clipped. Thus, when you mix in the wild fish only about 15 percent of the fish are clipped. That doesn’t leave a lot of fish to be harvested. This clip rate is set until 2017. Discussion will occur to decide what the new clip rate will be starting in 2018.
- Second, the Clearwater River is a very popular place to catch-and-release steelhead, and has been for many years. Anglers come from all over the nation to fish this unique fishery. Opening a fall chinook season at the same time as this catch-and-release steelhead season occurs would cause significant changes in the dynamics of this fishery (more anglers and more boats). Many steelhead anglers say they are not in support of this.
- Finally, the Nez Perce Tribe is largely responsible for rebuilding the fall chinook run in Idaho. Because most of the Clearwater River is in the Nez Perce Tribal Reservation, we need to be considerate of their concerns and interests before moving forward with a fishery that targets fall chinook in this area. We will have discussions with the Tribe about this when we feel the time is appropriate.
PUBLIC LANDS — Illia Dunes recreation area on the Snake River is in the process of being reopened today after U.S. Corps of engineers staff and select volunteers cleaned-up trash from an unexpected party that attracted 1,800 partiers on Sept. 6. The area was closed for safety and a reservoir drawdown was required to clean up glass and debris.
The Corps of Engineers, which manages the riverside recreation area along Almota Ferry Road, says the future use of the area is in the hands of visitors. More damaging use could force restrictions, such a ban on alcohol.
"The popular beach and shallow water area downstream from Lower Granite Lock and Dam had been closed to public use on Sunday, Sept. 7, due to environmental damage, and potential public health and safety concerns after an unexpected crowd of about 1,800 people on Saturday, Sept. 6, left significant amounts of trash and human waste," says the press release just issued by the Corps Walla Walla District.
- A similar large, messy gathering forced closure of the area in August 2012.
The Corps' Natural Resources Management staff coordinated with two organized groups of volunteers — the Associated Students of Washington State University (ASWSU) and WSU's Center for Civic Engagement — who offered to help in today's cleanup.
Recreation is allowed at the area, but it's primary function is for wildlife habitat, Corps officials said.
"The Corps has the option of banning alcohol consumption on Corps lands at any time, and such bans are in place at several locations in the region." officials said. "While alcohol consumption at Illia Dunes is not banned at this time, underage drinking is not allowed."
State laws prohibit driving or boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs and drugs such as marijuana are prohibited on federal lands, even if state law allows it.
Conducting special events on Corps property is prohibited without a special-use permit.
Glass containers are banned on the Dunes, and the Corps provides free trash bags for visitors to use for "pack it in, pack it out" trash removal.
PUBLIC LANDS — This may be a first:
A Sept. 6 college drinking party that attracted 1,800 litterbugs and forced the closure of a Snake River recreation area left so much crap — figuratively and literally — along a beach that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is lowering the water level of the reservoir 3-4 feet to accommodate a clean-up effort.
That's huge. It could boost the upriver migration of salmon. The costs? I haven't heard yet.
Here's the announcement from the Corps:
Water elevation will be lowered about 3 to 4 feet on Lake Bryan, the reservoir upstream of Little Goose Lock and Dam on the Snake River, to facilitate in-water and shoreline trash cleanup efforts planned for Monday, Sept. 15, at Illia Dunes, according to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operations officials at the Walla Walla District.
Illia Dunes, a habitat management area and a popular beach site about three miles downstream of Lower Granite Lock and Dam, was closed to public use on Sunday, Sept. 7, due to environmental damage, and potential public health and safety concerns after an unexpected crowd of about 1,800 people on Saturday, Sept. 6, left significant amounts of trash and human waste.
Pool-lowering operations will begin at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 14, gradually decreasing the water elevation until it reaches about 633 feet MSL (mean sea level). Low-pool operations will end at 7 a.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 16. Lake Bryan's current lake elevation (as of 8 a.m. today) was 636.7 feet. Lowering the water level will expose more shoreline, allowing better cleanup access.
Corps rangers advise lake users to be on the lookout for underwater hazards that become closer to the surface as the lake level drop, particularly near shorelines. Boaters should use caution when mooring vessels along the shoreline, because they may become stranded as water levels recede if anchored on or too close to the shore.
The Corps received offers of volunteer cleanup assistance. To maintain safety and efficiently manage work efforts, the Corps' Natural Resources Management staff is coordinating with selected organized groups of volunteers to use a limited number of people during a clean-up event on Monday.
Reopening is contingent upon completion of trash cleanup and a safety inspection of the Dunes and surrounding area. The Corps is reviewing the incident and management policies with an eye toward preventing future similar problems.
Visitors can help keep the area open and clean. Illia Dunes visitors should use provided trash receptacles or take their trash with them when they leave, and the Corps provides free bags for that purpose. Glass containers are prohibited on Illia Dunes beach. Restrooms are available on site and at the nearby Lower Granite Visitor Center. Vehicles must park only in designated lots. The District Commander has the option of banning alcohol consumption on Corps lands at any time, and such bans are in place at several locations in the region.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — Once on the brink of extinction and still too close for comfort, Snake River sockeye surpassed an important milestone this week.
Through Friday, 1,348 sockeye have been trapped in the Sawtooth Basin, the most since the run was placed on regulatory life support and a captive breeding program was initiated more than 20 years ago.
Read on for an update from the Lewiston Tribune on the status of this remarkable fishery that runs upstream 900 miles past the unnatural barriers of Columbia and Snake River dams:
By Eric Barker/Lewiston Tribune
Following decades of struggle, sockeye that return to Redfish Lake and other large lakes near the headwaters of the Salmon River bottomed out in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Returns were often in the single digits, and in some years not a single adult completed the journey from the ocean. Sockeye were protected as an endangered species in 1991 and a captive breeding program began the same year.
Under the program designed to preserve the genetics of the fish and keep the run from blinking out, returning adults were bred in captivity and the bulk of their offspring spent their entire lives in a hatchery setting. Numbers were slowly bolstered to allow more and more smolts to be released to migrate downstream to the ocean.
Returns remained meager to modest for several years and then made a jump starting in 2008, when 650 sockeye returned to the basin. That was followed by 833 in 2009 and 1,322 in 2010. This week, the 2014 run topped the 2010 run and is now the third-largest since 1956 - when 1,381 sockeye returned.
"Just based on how fish are coming back into the basin, we may surpass that 1956 number," said Mike Peterson, an Idaho Fish and Game senior research biologist at Nampa. "Certainly this is the highest number of Snake River sockeye that have crossed over Lower Granite (Dam) and the highest number of adults trapped since the captive brood program initiation."
In 1961, 4,351 sockeye returned to the basin, the most ever recorded. But that pales in comparison to returns before the fish were counted at weirs. Fisheries biologists don’t know exactly how many sockeye once made the journey from the Pacific Ocean to the deep, clear and cold lakes at the base of the Sawtooth Mountains. An Idaho State University study led by professor Bruce Finney estimated the run once numbered between 25,000 to 40,000 fish. Redfish Lake reportedly got its name because the fish, which turn crimson while spawning, made the lake shimmer red.
The run was nearly choked out with the 1910 construction of Sunbeam Dam on the Salmon River, about 20 miles downstream from Redfish Lake Creek. The crude concrete structure, which was breached in 1934, had little to no fish passage during its lifespan and fisheries biologists are not certain if the run was re-established by resident kokanee salmon or if enough adults were able to make it through the dam to allow the run to persist.
Now with numbers improving, the run could be poised to make another significant jump. Last year, the Springfield Fish Hatchery was built near Blackfoot to boost production of sockeye. The first set of juveniles raised there will be released next year, and by 2017 Peterson said the hatchery should hit its full production goal of 1 million smolts per year. More juveniles released should lead to more returning adults. This year’s return is based on the release of only about 165,000 smolts.
But for now, program officials are content to wait and see how much higher this year’s return will climb. Between 10 to 20 sockeye have been trapped at weirs in recent days. And while the run appears to have peaked, it could persist for a number of weeks.
"We are kind of excited to see where we end up," Peterson said.
PUBLIC LANDS — Illia Dunes on the Snake River was closed Sunday until further notice after hundreds of visitors on Saturday left trash on the beach, broken bottles and beer cans in the water and human waste on the beach.
About 1,800 people visited The Dunes downstream from Lower Granite Dam on Saturday and caused "enormous damage," according to a news release from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“We had to shut down the Dunes — It’s a visitor-safety issue. Our first objective is to clear the area of dangerous broken glass and debris, and clean up the health risk caused by visitors not using the restrooms,” said Chris Lorz, park ranger at Lower Granite Lock and Dam. “Most visitors were being pretty good about keeping the Dunes nice. Saturday’s crowd actions are really disappointing.”
The area was previously closed because of visitor misuse in late August 2012 when about 3,000 visitors left behind thousands of pounds of trash, broken glass, foam coolers and other litter on the beach and along three miles of road ditch.
After that, parking was banned on Almota Ferry Road but two other parking lots are available. Lorz said many drivers parked in restricted areas on Saturday. In addition, the Corps added trash bins and bags.
“We do not have the resources to repeatedly clean up after thousands of party-goers who refuse to use the trash bins and bags,” said Darren Opp, park manager. “Apparently, many people were not using the three vault toilets on site. With a multiple-stall bathroom also available just down the road at the Visitor Center, there’s no reason for creating a health hazard like that.”
“The area is a habitat management unit being managed for recreation and wildlife purposes.” said Opp. “It truly is a unique land resource, and it’s unfortunate some visitors don’t fully appreciate that value.”
The rules for using the area are simple and logical.
The abuse of the area is a disgrace.
FISHING — Starting Saturday, Aug. 30, anglers will be able to catch and keep hatchery fall chinook salmon seven days a week on the Snake River.
Predicting another strong return of upriver bright chinook salmon this year, state fishery managers have expanded the daily catch limit to include six adult hatchery chinook, plus six hatchery jack chinook under 24 inches in length.
Anglers may also catch and keep up to three hatchery steelhead on the Snake River, but must stop fishing for the day – for both hatchery chinook and steelhead – once they have taken their three-fish steelhead limit.
Barbless hooks are required, and any salmon or steelhead not marked as a hatchery fish by a clipped adipose fin must be released, along with any chinook salmon under 12 inches.
“This is a great opportunity for anglers to catch hatchery chinook salmon during the traditionally productive Snake River steelhead fishery,” said John Whalen, regional fish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
New fishing rules set to take effect Sept. 1 on the Tucannon River will reduce the daily catch limit for hatchery steelhead to two fish to provide additional protection for wild steelhead. The new rules for steelhead and other gamefish also:
- Require anglers to use barbless hooks and keep any hatchery steelhead they catch.
- Close the fishery upstream from Marengo at Turner Road Bridge.
- Establish new fishing boundaries at the mouth of the Tucannon.
Details of the Tucannon River fishery are posted on WDFW’s website at fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/.
Whalen said the upcoming fall chinook fishery on the Snake River is expected to extend through Oct. 31, while the season for hatchery steelhead and other gamefish will run through Feb. 28.
Of the 919,000 upper river brights projected to enter the Columbia River this year, 61, 000 are wild fall chinook bound for the Snake River. Retention of hatchery chinook won’t increase impacts to fish protected under the federal Endangered Species Act, so long as anglers release wild chinook as required, Whalen said.
“We urge anglers to identify their catch before they remove it from the water,” he said. “State law prohibits removing chinook salmon or steelhead from the water unless they are retained as part of the daily catch limit.”
The fishery will extend from waters of the Columbia River from the railroad bridge between Burbank and Kennewick upstream approximately 2.1 miles to the first power line crossing upstream of the navigation light on the point of Sacajawea State Park and on the Snake River from the Columbia River confluence to the Oregon State line (approximately 7 miles upstream of the mouth of the Grande Ronde River).
Watch for updates on the WDFW website.
FISHING — This announcement just posted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is good news if you're champing at the bit to cast for the early portion of the record run of fall chinook heading up the Columbia River.
Action: Fall chinook season opens two days early to coincide with Labor Day weekend.
Effective date: Aug 30, 2014 (one hour before official sunrise).
Species affected: Chinook salmon
Location: Columbia River from Priest Rapids Dam to Wanapum Dam
General Rules: Daily limit six (6) chinook only; up to two adults may be retained. All other rules for Columbia River apply, including barbless hooks. Two poles allowed through Aug 31, 2014.
Reason for action: The standard opening date for fall chinook in the Priest Rapids Pool is September 1. With Labor Day weekend falling on August 30, 2014, opening two days early will allow for additional angling opportunity.
Anglers are required to possess a Columbia River Salmon/Steelhead Endorsement as part of their valid fishing license Revenue from the endorsement supports salmon or steelhead seasons on many rivers in the Columbia River system, including enforcing fishery regulations and monitoring the upper Columbia River spring chinook fisheries. The endorsement has generated more than $1 million annually for WDFW to maintain and increase fishing opportunities throughout the Columbia River basin.
Monitor fishing rule changes on the fishing hotline at 360-902-2500 or the WDFW webpage.
PUBLIC LANDS — Illia Dunes, a Snake River beach and recreation site especially popular in August and September with college students, is being reopened today after last week's closure stemming from fecal coliforms found in water samples.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says test results received early this afternoon showed the area was again safe for in-water recreation.
Corps natural resources staff take weekly water samples at swimming areas in the district and have them tested for fecal coliforms that pose a potential hazard to human health. The Illia Dunes beach was closed Aug. 15 after tests showed that fecal bacteria exceeded levels considered safe for people.
In past years, Illia Dunes, located on the Snake River about three miles downstream of Lower Granite Lock and Dam, has proven a popular end-of-summer gathering place.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers natural resources staff remind visitors of the following rules for the dunes and other Corps Snake River recreation areas:
Illia Dunes parking is restricted to two nearby Corps parking lots only. Due to the size, configuration of available space and limited maneuverability for larger vehicles, no busses are allowed to park in these lots. The two parking lots hold a total of about 120 cars. Although not a new requirement, it should be noted that tour and school buses must contact the dam at 509-843-1493 at least 24 hours in advance for crossing authorization.
No public parking is allowed on the adjacent 50-mph speed limit Almota Ferry Road. "No Parking" signs have been placed along the roadway. Warm-weather visitors parking on the two-lane, road shoulder have often encroached on traffic lanes, making the roadway narrower and preventing cars and emergency vehicles from safely passing. Shoulder parking also creates pedestrian hazards.
Banning alcohol consumption on Corps lands is an option the Corps could enact at any time, and such bans are in place at several locations in the region. While alcohol consumption at Illia Dunes is not banned at this time, underage drinking is not allowed. Remember, state laws prohibit driving or boating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Remember that drugs are prohibited on federal lands, even if state law allows it.
Conducting special events on Corps property is prohibited without a special-use permit. Permit applications are available at Corps natural resource management offices, and take about 30 days to review and determine if the requested activity will be allowed.
Sound-producing equipment operated in such a manner as to unreasonably annoy other visitors is prohibited.
Any act or conduct by any person which interferes with, impedes or disrupts the use of the site or impairs the safety of any person is prohibited. Individuals who are boisterous, rowdy, disorderly or otherwise disturb the peace on Corps lands or waters may be requested to leave.
No glass containers are allowed on the Dunes, and the Corps provides free trash bags for visitors to use for "pack it in, pack it out" trash removal. Please, use the trash bags and put filled trash bags into on-site garbage receptacles.
Corps officials say they will continue to patrol and monitor how well visitors keep glass containers off the beach at all times, consume alcohol responsibly, use provided restrooms, not use fireworks on Corps lands at any time, and enjoy their visit without violating laws or posted notices. In this way, visitors will be helping determine future public use of the area, which is also a wildlife habitat management area.