* WDFW Seeks Public Comment On Opening Colville River To Year-Round Fishing
Fisheries managers are seeking public comments through Oct. 17 on a state proposal to reinstate a year-round fishing season on the Colville River in northeast Washington.
To review and comment on the proposal, visit the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/season-setting.
The public can also provide input at meeting scheduled at 6 p.m., Oct. 2, at the department’s eastern regional headquarters, 2315 North Discovery Place, Spokane Valley.
Under the proposal, the Colville River, from its mouth upstream to the bridge at the town of the Valley including Meyers Falls Reservoir, would be open year-round for fishing for gamefish. Statewide stream rules for minimum size and daily limit would apply. This stretch previously was open year-round but was changed in 2018 to opening the Saturday before Memorial Day through Oct. 31 season to better align with stream seasons statewide.
Anglers have asked the department to reinstate a year-round fishing season on this stretch of the river, noting the river is now closed during an optimal time for trout fishing late winter and early spring, said Bill Baker, regional biologist with WDFW.
“In the late spring and summer, water conditions make for challenging fishing opportunities,” Baker said. “We don’t see a conservation issue with re-opening this section of river to fishing year-round.”
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission also will hear testimony on the proposal during its Oct. 18-19 meeting in Olympia. For the specific day and time, check the commission’s website at https://wdfw.wa.gov/about/commission.
The commission, which sets policy for WDFW, is expected to take action on the proposal at its meeting in December. If the commission approves this change, the rule will take effect in early 2020.
* Skokomish River Ecosystem Restoration Project Partnership Agreement, Restores Salmon Habitat
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Skokomish Indian Tribe, Mason County and the Washington Department of Natural Resources met a major milestone this week with the signing of the Skokomish River Ecosystem Restoration Project Partnership Agreement.
The Project Partnership Agreement is the next step toward constructing the project, signifying the transition from design phase into the construction phase. It is a legally binding agreement between the Corps and its non-federal sponsors that serves to define responsibilities, cost-sharing and execution of work.
The project aims to restore a total of 277 acres in the Skokomish River Basin including habitat critical for Endangered Species Act-listed Chinook and chum salmon, key food sources for southern resident orca whales.
In addition to Chinook and chum salmon, the project will improve habitat for ESA-listed steelhead and bull trout, and over 100 additional wildlife species known to use the Skokomish River for some part of their life cycles.
The project includes channel realignment near the confluence of the North and South Fork Skokomish River to allow for year-round fish passage, installation of large woody debris and engineered log jams, the reconnection of a historic side channel and wetland restoration at two sites. When complete, it’s expected to benefit an estimated 40 miles of habitat in the river that is periodically inaccessible to ESA-listed species due to lack of water.
The Skokomish Indian Tribe and Mason County are cost-sharing, non-federal sponsors working with the Corps on the approximately $22.1 million restoration effort.
The Skokomish River is the largest and most diverse tributary to Hood Canal, a 70-mile long natural fjord-like arm of Puget Sound that supports vital natural resources. The project is a critical element of an integrated restoration effort in the entire Skokomish River Basin and complements restoration efforts being completed by others throughout the watershed.
Construction is scheduled to commence in summer 2020 and is expected to last about two years.
* NOAA: June-August Hottest Summer In Northern Hemisphere, Arctic Sea Ice 30 Percent Below Average
Scorching temperatures around the world last month tied August 2019 as the second-hottest August on record and capped off the hottest Northern Hemisphere summer (June through August), tied with 2016. The heat also impacted Arctic sea ice coverage, shrinking it to the second smallest for the month on record.
The average global temperature in August was 1.66 degrees F above the 20th-century average of 60.1 degrees, tying it with 2015 and 2017 as the second-hottest August in the 140-year record, according to scientists at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. The hottest August on record was August 2016, and the five hottest Augusts on record have all occurred since 2014.
The global sea surface temperature last month was 1.51°F above the 20th century monthly average of 61.4°F, making it the highest global ocean temperature for August on record.
June through August 2019, was the Northern Hemisphere’s hottest meteorological summer on record, tied with 2016. The period of June through August, which also marks the Southern Hemisphere’s winter, was the planet’s second hottest in the 140-year record at 1.67 degrees F above the 20th-century average, behind June-August of 2016. The last five June-August periods are the five hottest on record.
The period from January through August produced a global temperature that was 1.69 degrees F above the 20th-century average of 57.3 degrees, making it the third hottest January-August period on record after 2016 and 2017.
More notable stats and facts
•Sea ice retreats: The August Arctic sea ice coverage was 30.1 percent below average, right behind August 2012’s record-lowest extent. Antarctic sea ice extent was the fifth smallest August extent on record.
•Regional record heat: Europe, Africa and the Hawaiian region had August temperatures that ranked among their three hottest Augusts on record.
•Scorching season for some: Africa had its warmest June–August since records began. South America and Europe had a June–August temperature that ranked among the three-warmest such periods on record.
* Releases From Zosel Dam (Lake Osoyoos) To Boost Okanogan River Flows To Protect Fish
Autumn is upon us and the Washington Department of Ecology is drawing down water levels at Lake Osoyoos to winter operational levels. Releases from Zosel Dam to the Okanogan River will increase in volume to bring the lake down about two-and-a-half feet from now until December.
Extra water stored in the lake this summer, due to drought declared in the region, provides an opportunity to boost streamflows and protect fish species in the river going into the fall, said Al Josephy, a water resources specialist with Ecology. This means the river will be running high this week, and those living downstream are advised to take adequate precautions.
“The Okanogan River has a tendency to build up sediments on the riverbed, which, over time, clogs gravels on the bottom, making spawning access for fish problematic,” he said. “Following discussions with local fish biologists, we plan to use the extra available water in the lake to flush those gravels by allowing short intervals of high flows to be released over several days during the middle of September.”
The plan is to ramp up flows to about 1,200 cubic feet per second for one or two days, beginning later in the week of September 16. People living and working along the river below Zosel Dam may experience bursts of high flows and may see conditions like those seen during spring runoff.
Lakeside residents can expect to see the lake drop about six inches sometime between Sept. 17 and 25. Following the flush, the drawdown will proceed in its usual course, and the lake levels will continue to decline. Throughout the year, the Lake Osoyoos Board of Control mandates the cross Canada-United States-border lake levels to meet seasonal needs.