SHORTS: Poor Wild Chinook Returns For Oregon Coast; Award For Former IDFG Director; Kootenai Forestlands Easement; New Assistant Secretary For Fish, Wildlife; NOAA Draft Research Plan; UW Environmental Law Gift

* Oregon Sets Restrictions For Fishing For Wild Fall Chinook On Oregon Coast, Poor Returns Forecasted

For the second year in a row, fishing for wild fall chinook salmon will be restricted in coastal rivers, due to poor escapement in 2018 and poor forecasted returns this year.

Most of these temporary regulations will be in effect from Aug. 1-Dec. 31, though a few don’t start until Sept. 16 or Oct. 1. 

Bag limits vary by basin, and a few rivers and creeks will be closed entirely, due to expected low water conditions (until flows increase later in the fall). See regulation details at the links below (table marked Summer/Fall Season Rule Changes for Adult Wild Chinook Salmon):

NW Zone https://myodfw.com/recreation-report/fishing-report/northwest-zone

SW Zone https://myodfw.com/recreation-report/fishing-report/southwest-zone

“Due to poor runs last year and low forecasts for this year, we need to take steps to protect these wild populations,” said Christine Mallette, ODFW’s Ocean Salmon Technical Resources Manager. “We appreciate anglers’ understanding and their input to the proposed conservation measures that were discussed with different coastal communities during six public meetings earlier this summer.” Most anglers who attended expressed support for ODFW’s proposed conservation measures.

Poor out-migration and ocean conditions in recent years, particularly higher than normal water temperatures, are likely the reason for low chinook salmon returns. Drought conditions while rearing in their native streams and lingering effects of the blob (large mass of warm water in the Pacific Ocean) both contributed to poor survival.

“Longtime anglers will be familiar with the ups and downs of salmon and steelhead abundance due to the cyclical nature of their runs,” said Mallette. “While we believe salmon runs will improve, we need to implement additional conservation measures now to protect Oregon’s wild fall chinook salmon into the future.”

Note these restrictions on adult wild chinook daily and season bag limits do not apply to fin-clipped hatchery fish, which will add additional angling opportunity to several coastal basins. In these areas, anglers may harvest adult hatchery chinook salmon until the daily bag limit of 2 has been met. (In areas open for adult wild chinook salmon harvest with the temporary bag limit, no more than 1 wild adult chinook salmon may be harvested per day as part of the daily bag limit.)

The daily limit for jack chinook salmon (hatchery or wild) remains 5 fish per day and does not count towards the adult daily limit. However, once the adult daily limit is harvested, anglers cannot continue to fish for jack salmon.

Although wild returns are expected to be poor for most of Oregon’s coast, forecasted chinook salmon returns to the Rogue and Umpqua rivers are good this year, so permanent regulations will be in effect this fall. Low flow angling closures on the South Coast may be lifted when chinook salmon have distributed and forecasted flows are expected to remain high enough to allow fish to migrate. These improved conditions are expected for early to mid-November and are based on historical river flows.

Hatchery coho salmon fishing in the ocean has also been excellent this year, which is mainly driven by abundant Columbia River stocks. However, ODFW has not proposed any coastal in-river fisheries for wild coho salmon this year, due to low forecasted returns.

* Retired Idaho Fish And Game Director Virgil Moore Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies has honored conservation professionals from several western states with awards commending their work to conserve fish and wildlife resources. The awards were announced July 15 at WAFWA’s annual conference, held this year in Manhattan, Kansas.

Virgil Moore, retired Director of Idaho Fish and Game was honored with WAFWA’s most prestigious award, the Phillip W. Schneider Lifetime Achievement Award. Moore was recognized for his more than four decades of leadership with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and his contributions to WAFWA.

Moore retired in January, 2019, capping a 42-year career devoted to fish and wildlife management. Moore’s leadership contribution to WAFWA spanned several committees and issues over the years.

Most recently, Moore served as chair of the Sage-Grouse Executive Oversight Committee from 2012 – 2018, a joint state-federal committee under WAFWA sponsorship which created the important conduit for necessary partnership and conservation vision to avoid federal listing of this iconic bird.

Moore broadened his leadership footprint as the 2018 president of the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies .  In this capacity, he led state fish and game agencies and partners across the nation in a vision for funding future conservation of all of America’s wildlife through the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.  The award Moore received is named for Phillip W. Schneider of Oregon, whose legendary commitment to fish and wildlife resources spanned more than 40 years.

Colin Gillin was honored with WAFWA’s Professional of the Year Award for his tireless dedication to wildlife management and health. Gillin is the State Wildlife Veterinarian for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, but his contributions are felt across the country. He serves on myriad committees providing important contributions on national issues such as cervid ranching, chronic wasting disease, white-nose syndrome, high path avian influenza and elk hoof disease. In Oregon, Gillin built the agency’s veterinary program from the ground up and established a lasting relationship with Oregon State University’s Veterinary Department.

For more, WAFWA news releases are available at www.wafwa.org/news/

Since 1922, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies has advanced conservation in western North America. Representing 24 western states and Canadian provinces, WAFWA’s reach encompasses more than 40 percent of North America, including two-thirds of the United States. Drawing on the knowledge of scientists across the West, WAFWA is recognized as the expert source for information and analysis about western wildlife. WAFWA supports sound resource management and building partnerships at all levels to conserve wildlife for the use and benefit of all citizens, now and in the future.

* Montana FWP Recommends Approval Of Easement For Kootenai Forestlands Conservation Project

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is recommending the Fish and Wildlife Commission approve the purchase of a conservation easement on the Kootenai Forestlands Conservation Project in Lincoln County.

As proposed in Alternative A of an environmental assessment, the recommendation would protect approximately 22,295 acres of highly productive timberland and important fisheries and wildlife habitat in northwestern Montana near Libby.

FWP released a draft EA for public comment from May 30 to June 29, 2019, and held a public hearing in Libby on June 12. FWP received 12 public comments. All comments are addressed in the decision notice.

The Kootenai Forestlands Conservation Project is a proposal by FWP and The Trust for Public Land for land owned by the Stimson Lumber Company. This conservation project is a collaborative effort involving Stimson, TPL, and FWP. The proposed conservation easement, to be held by FWP, would allow Stimson to retain ownership of these timberlands, preclude development, protect important wildlife habitat and key landscape connectivity, and provide permanent public access and associated recreational opportunities.

Hunting opportunities would continue to exist on this property for elk, white-tailed deer, mule deer, moose, black bear, mountain lion, wolf, turkeys, and forest grouse. The property provides high quality winter range for moose, elk, white-tailed deer, and mule deer; habitat for 43 Species of Greatest Conservation Need (2015 State Wildlife Action Plan), and includes federally designated critical habitat for ESA-listed Canada lynx, grizzly bear, and bull trout. Completion of this project would permanently secure free public access for hunting, hiking, fishing, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, and other outdoor activities.

The scattered parcels of this project share 133 miles of border with the Kootenai National Forest. An increasing number of homes and developments in Lincoln County have occurred in the Wildland-Urban Interface and completion of this project could reduce taxpayer-funded costs of firefighting by 50-95% and prescribed fire by 43%. It would also reduce human-wildlife conflicts that come with residential development of properties within wildlife habitat, especially those with grizzly bears, black bears, and mountain lions.

“This collaborative project will maintain traditional uses and public access while protecting valuable fish and wildlife habitat at the same time,” said Jim Williams, Regional Supervisor for FWP in Kalispell.

* Senate Confirms Interior’s New Assistant Secretary For Fish, Wildlife, Parks

The U.S. Senate recently unanimously confirmed President Trump’s nomination for the Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, Robert Wallace.

Wallace, a native of Wyoming, brings 45 years of experience to the position, having served as head of congressional affairs for the National Park Service, worked on Capitol Hill, and led government affairs operations in the private sector.

“Rob Wallace brings extensive public and private sector experience to his new role as Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, and I look forward to working with him in his new capacity to advance the President’s agenda,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt.

A native of Evanston, Wyoming and graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, Wallace’s government experience includes time as both a seasonal ranger and, later in his career, assistant director of Legislative and Congressional Affairs for the National Park Service.  He has been chief of staff to U.S. Sen. Wallop (WY-R), Republican staff director of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and chief of staff to Wyoming Governor Jim Geringer. In the private sector, he led U.S. government relations for GE Energy where he co-chaired the Government Relations Operating Council. The council coordinated the company’s energy advocacy throughout the world.

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* NOAA Seeks Public Input On Draft Plan For Future Priorities For Research, Development

NOAA is asking the general public and our stakeholders for comments on a new draft plan that outlines agency priorities for research and development from 2020 to 2026.

The draft was written based on input from across NOAA as well public comments received earlier this year to a request for public suggestions prior to the plan being written.

The draft outlines three key overarching priorities, which are:

–Reducing societal impacts from severe weather and other environmental phenomena

–Sustainable use and stewardship of ocean and coastal resources

–A robust and effective research, development, and transition enterprise

Within each of these priorities, there are multiple objectives.

Some examples include producing reliable and timely forecasts of seasonal and two-to-four week conditions for droughts, tornadoes, fires, coastal inundation, sea ice conditions and heat waves; developing next-generation fisheries and protected species assessments that incorporate the effects of climate change; and developing and implementing procedures to improve the public perception of and decisions in response to NOAA bulletins and warnings for severe weather, harmful algal blooms and safe maritime navigation.

The plan is designed to help NOAA and the public identify priorities and evaluate progress toward anticipated outcomes that will benefit the American public.

The draft is available at https://nrc.noaa.gov/CouncilProducts/ResearchPlans.aspx

Public comments will be welcomed until August 26, 2019. You can submit your comments by email to noaa.rdplan@noaa.gov. Please include the subject line “NOAA R&D Plan Public Comment.”

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* UW School Of Law Receives $3.75 Million Gift To Support Environmental Law

The University of Washington last week announced a $3.75 million gift to the School of Law that will support UW Law graduates pursuing public interest environmental law, enhancing their opportunities to gain the experience and knowledge necessary to tackle some of Washington’s and the world’s most pressing environmental issues.

The gift establishes the John Diehl Endowed Fellowship, named for the late John Diehl, of Mason County. Fellowships will be awarded to UW Law graduates who are practicing environmental public interest law across a range of concerns, including natural resource conservation, wilderness protection and environmental health. It encourages partnerships with nongovernmental organizations working in these areas.

“We are extremely grateful to Mr. Diehl for his support of our graduates and commitment to public interest environmental law,” said Mario Barnes, professor and the Toni Rembe Dean of the UW School of Law. “His gift creates a tremendous legacy that will enable us to recruit more top students to UW Law and encourages our students to fight for environmental justice, resource conservation and wilderness protections for generations to come.

“Some of our most pressing environmental issues will be decided by experts trained in law and policy. As a society, we benefit from legal advocates with a background in environmental law.”

The gift provides students an early career financial boost after graduation to pursue public interest environmental law.

“The big environmental challenges are many, which creates a rich field of legal need,” said Todd Wildermuth, director of environmental law at UW. “Diehl’s gift allows more students to jump right into the field and get to much-needed work right away.”

UW has been a leader in public interest environmental law for more than 50 years, when Professor Emeritus William Rodgers helped launch the field in the 1960s. Rodgers later co-founded the UW Environmental Law & Policy Clinic with a $1 million gift from Seattle attorney Steve Berman that provides students with more opportunities for practical experience and helps them support environmental justice in Washington. Berman’s generosity inspired Diehl’s gift, documents show.

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