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Old 01-08-2012, 06:38 AM
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Exclamation Mass River closures in Washington State in 2012.

WDFW Announces Puget Sound river closures for 2012

These emergency closures will be the permanent regulations for Puget Sound rivers starting next year and the WDFW is receiving comments on this tomorrow at the the Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting.

This is your opportunity to speak up...

Fishing in rivers around Puget Sound to close due to low wild steelhead returns

OLYMPIA – Fishing for steelhead and other game fish will close early in several river systems in Puget Sound and along the Strait of Juan de Fuca to protect wild steelhead, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced today.

The early closures will affect the Nooksack, Skagit, Stillaguamish, Snohomish and Puyallup river systems, along with several streams along the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Most river systems will close Feb. 1. However, the Puyallup River system will close Jan. 16, and some waters near WDFW fish hatcheries are scheduled to close Feb. 16.

Pre-season estimates developed by WDFW last fall indicate that wild steelhead will return to those watersheds in numbers far short of target levels, said Bob Leland, WDFW’s steelhead program manager.

“By taking this action, we can protect wild steelhead that do make it back to these river systems,” he said.

The early closures are timed in each watershed to coincide with the traditional dates wild steelhead return to those Washington rivers, Leland said.

Wild steelhead returning to most of the rivers scheduled to close are listed as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). Although anglers are required to release any wild steelhead they catch in these rivers, some of those fish inevitably die from the experience, Leland said.

The closures are necessary to meet the conservation objectives of WDFW’s statewide steelhead management plan and comply with provisions of the ESA, he said.

Meanwhile, WDFW is proposing to make these early closure dates permanent to help protect future runs of wild steelhead, Leland said. The deadline for submitting written comments to the department on that and other proposed sportfishing rules was Dec. 30, but the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission will accept both written and verbal comments at its Jan. 6-7 meeting in Olympia. For contact information, see Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission Homepage.

The commission, which sets policy for WDFW, is scheduled to vote on the final sportfishing rules package during a meeting Feb. 3-4. For more information on the proposed rules, visit the department’s website at Sportfishing Rule Adoption Process | Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife.

Waters closing to fishing Jan. 16, 2012, by emergency rule include:

Puyallup River System

White River from the mouth to the R Street Bridge in Auburn.
Carbon River from the mouth to the Highway 162 Bridge.
Upper Puyallup River from the mouth of the Carbon River upstream.
Waters closing to fishing Feb. 1, 2012, by emergency rule include:

Nooksack River System

Nooksack River mainstem from the Lummi Indian Reservation boundary to the confluence of North and South forks.
North Fork Nooksack River from Maple Creek to Nooksack Falls.
Middle Fork Nooksack River from the mouth to the City of Bellingham diversion Dam.
South Fork Nooksack River from the mouth to Skookum Creek.
Skagit River System

Skagit River mainstem from the mouth to the Highway 530 Bridge at Rockport.
Skagit River from the mouth of the Cascade River to the Gorge powerhouse at Newhalem.
Sauk River from the mouth to the Whitechuck River.
Cascade River from the Rockport-Cascade Road Bridge upstream to headwaters.
Snohomish River System

Snohomish River from the mouth (Burlington Northern railroad bridge) upstream to the confluence of the Skykomish and Snoqualmie rivers.
Skykomish River from the mouth to the Highway 2 Bridge at the Big Eddy Access.
Pilchuck River from the mouth to 500 feet downstream of the Snohomish city diversion dam.
Sultan River from the mouth to 400 feet downstream of diversion dam (river mile 9.7).
Wallace River from 200 feet upstream of water intake of salmon hatchery to Wallace Falls.
North Fork Skykomish River from the mouth to 1,000 feet downstream of Bear Creek Falls.
South Fork Skykomish River from the mouth to 600 feet downstream of Sunset Falls fishway.
Snoqualmie River from the mouth to the boat ramp at Plum access.
Tolt River from the mouth to the USGS trolley cable near confluence of North and South forks.
Raging River from the mouth to Highway 18 Bridge.
Stillaguamish River System

Stillaguamish River from Marine Drive upstream to forks.
Pilchuck Creek from the mouth to Highway 9 Bridge.
North Fork Stillaguamish River from the mouth to the mouth of French Creek.
South Fork Stillaguamish River from the mouth to 400 feet below the Granite Falls fishway outlet.
Canyon Creek from the mouth upstream.
Strait of Juan de Fuca

Dungeness River from the mouth upstream to the forks at Dungeness Forks Campground.
Morse Creek from the mouth to the Port Angeles Dam.
Salt Creek from the mouth to the bridge on Highway 112.
Deep Creek from the mouth upstream.
Pysht River from the mouth upstream.
Clallam River from the mouth upstream.
Sekiu River from the mouth to forks.
Waters closing to fishing Feb. 16, 2012, by emergency rule include:

North Fork Nooksack River from the mouth to Maple Creek.
Skykomish River from the Highway 2 Bridge at the Big Eddy Access to the confluence of North and South forks.
Wallace River from the mouth (farthest downstream railroad bridge) to 200 feet upstream of the water intake of salmon hatchery.
Snoqualmie River from the boat ramp at Plum access to Snoqualmie Falls.
Tokul Creek from the mouth to the posted cable boundary marker.
North Fork Stillaguamish River from the mouth of French Creek to the Swede Heaven Bridge.
Skagit River from the Highway 530 Bridge at Rockport to the mouth of the Cascade River.
Cascade River from the mouth to Rockport-Cascade Road Bridge.
Leland reminds anglers that the Samish River, from the I-5 Bridge to the Hickson Bridge, closed to fishing Dec. 1. The stretch of the Samish River, from the mouth to the I-5 Bridge closed Jan.1.

For more information on the closures, check the emergency rule changes on WDFW’s website at http://1.usa.gov/hfDjYl.
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Old 01-08-2012, 09:17 AM
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Default Re: Mass River closures in Washington State in 2012.

What are you thoughts on this Fred? I know this is something of a hot topic on the other site. I can see the logic behind the idea but also know that there is more it, not being familiar with the rivers are any of these closers in spawning areas?
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Old 01-08-2012, 09:42 AM
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Default Re: Mass River closures in Washington State in 2012.

The closures cover almost every river that flows into Puget Sound (think Seattle, Washington area), and much of the Olympic Pen. rivers. One of the major underlying themes that isn't coming into Public Play is most of these same rivers get heavy Indian Netting during the winter.

Under the "Bolt Decision'' the Native Tribes are all allowed to 'harvest' up to 50% of a river's annual run of fish. Well, back up a second. The Game Department must Chrysal Ball what they think the return will be a year down the line. From there they 'estimate' how many thousands of fish must reach their spawning beds.

What's left is 'split' 50-50 with Sports fishermen. What the Sportsman missed (his 50%) the Indian's were allowed to net, retain and sell "in their usual and accustomed places." There's more to it than that, but I don't want to over kill this post.

Don't remember the exact year (typing this without Googleing, but will update in a minute) the "Bolt Decision" went into effect but it has to be at least 35 years ago.

End game is the fishery started to collapse almost immediately. Gill Nets strung 3/4's across a river is very effective .... especially if they're coming off of both banks.

So back to the why of the total closures. (From memory here forward) The only way the Washington State Game Department can close down a fishery (to EVERYONE) is through a 'temporary rule,' or in this case the full closure of a river (or river system). At present in Washington State 'only' fin clipped hatchery fish can be retained. Problem is 'nets' don't look/don't care.

As 'Wild Steelhead' are on the 'Endangered Species' list (and for damned good reason) the State just decided to 'pull the plug.' And there's one more layer of jam on this bit of toast ..... the State is closing down three (that I know of) major hatcheries that feed into these rivers.

End game is Washington has tossed in the towel with a problem they just can't fix. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Couple of years from now there will be close to zero hatchery introduced fish in many of these streams.

Fred

Edit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_..._v._Washington
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Old 01-08-2012, 10:23 AM
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Default Re: Mass River closures in Washington State in 2012.

It seems there really isn't any "good" way to go about it. There are so many variables to consider between harvesting, oceanic changes, loss of spawning habitat and so on. Like you said I guess you're damned if you do damned if you don't.
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Old 01-08-2012, 10:48 AM
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Default Re: Mass River closures in Washington State in 2012.

True, in my humble opin' only.

Real issue, or one of the major issues, is 'Population Pressure.' Too many, chasing too few? As an example of that, if you drew a 50 mile circle from downtown Seattle ... you'd have more people than live in the entire State of Oregon.

No kidding!

And of 'those' 65-70 percent would live within 75-100 miles of 'down town' Portland.

fae
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Old 01-08-2012, 10:57 AM
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Default Re: Mass River closures in Washington State in 2012.

Jeez! Do you think the anti hatchery guys will finally cave if and when the wild stocks fail to recover?
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Old 01-08-2012, 11:09 AM
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Default Re: Mass River closures in Washington State in 2012.

Honest answer is "No." In real time, a 'cycle of fish' is a four year proposition. Twenty years? Just 5, a thousand years (just to pick a number) maybe?

Washington/Bolt has taken just 35'ish years to unwind what Mom Nature built over Milliams, (sp?) ......

Fred
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Old 01-08-2012, 11:16 AM
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Default Re: Mass River closures in Washington State in 2012.

Do any of the closures affect the fisheries furthor east, like out towards Poppy in Idaho? Or are most of these just tributaries of a larger drainage? (Forgive the ignorance on these rivers)
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Old 01-08-2012, 11:35 AM
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Default Re: Mass River closures in Washington State in 2012.

Mike's fine (for context for others who are reading - He's in Peck, Idaho on the Clearwater), as are most (all???) of those rivers at this point in time. All are fed out of the Columbia River and (at this point) all are (still) fish highways. But I'll come back to this point in a moment.

Does 'selective dam removal' need to be considered? Yup, as an example, we have just one here left on the entire Rogue system, well two if you count the Applegate, which is a trickle of water 6 months of the year. And that one needs to be here for a myriad of good reasons.

Back on point (from above). Once you get into Eastern Washington, into Idaho, BC, etc., you've got thousands of miles of 'nada' save for wheat fields/Vineyards. Very little in the way of real population pressure save, for drawing water (and the Columbia is one hell of a big river!!) for farming.

Can, the Greater We, screw it up? If 'we' put our minds to it, without question. But the odds of that are really damned small.

A good thing, me thinks?
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Old 01-08-2012, 01:25 PM
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Default Re: Mass River closures in Washington State in 2012.

This has been a interesting read and for the most part unbiased.

Thanks Fred

Dave
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