Outdoor briefs for Sunday, May 26

Lower Columbia

chinook, steelhead fishing reopens

The sport fishery for hatchery spring chinook salmon and hatchery steelhead reopened Saturday (May 25) on the lower Columbia River under an agreement reached today by fishery managers from Washington and Oregon.

The fishery is scheduled to run through June 15 from the Rocky Point/Tongue Point line near the mouth of the river to the deadline below Bonneville Dam. For boat anglers, the upriver boundary is Beacon Rock.

Anglers may retain one adult hatchery chinook salmon as part of their daily limit.

Barbless hooks are required. All chinook salmon and steelhead not marked with a clipped adipose fin must be released. Sockeye salmon must also be released.

“We know a lot of anglers have been waiting for this opportunity,” said Ron Roler, Columbia River policy coordinator for the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife. “Now that we have a better idea of this year’s run size, more spring chinook have become available for harvest.”

Fishery managers closed the fishery April 13, after anglers had taken 3,539 upriver chinook. Although the size of the run was later reduced to 107,500 fish, Roler said 1,357 upriver chinook are still available for the recreational fishery.

Steelhead planning on four rivers begins

The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife will host a public meeting June 4 in Vancouver, Wash., to begin the process of developing steelhead management plans for four tributaries to the Columbia River.

The department is also seeking nominations for a citizens work group to assist in that effort.

The plans will address steelhead management in the North Fork Lewis, East Fork Lewis and Washougal rivers and Salmon Creek - together known in the planning process as the Cascade Stratum.

The meeting is scheduled June 4 from 6-8 p.m. at the Fish & Widlife Region 5 Office at 2108 Grand Blvd. in Vancouver.

Cindy Le Fleur, Fish & Wildlife regional fish program manager, said the department hopes to enlist 10 to 15 people to participate in the planning process, which will involve a series of meetings over the six-month period beginning in July.

“The upcoming meeting will provide a forum to discuss the goals and the context of the planning process,” Le Fleur said. “We encourage anyone with an interest in the future of steelhead in the four rivers to attend.”

Le Fleur said Fish & Wildlife is currently developing regional management plans for steelhead in watersheds throughout the state, including the Columbia River Basin. One work group has already provided input to the department on a management plan for tributaries in the Gorge, and another is developing recommendations on a separate plan for the Toutle, Coweeman and Kalama rivers.

The plans are designed to ensure steelhead management in Washington’s rivers are consistent with goals outlined in the statewide Steelhead Management Plan and other applicable guidelines, Le Fleur said. Each plan will consider natural production goals, hatchery production, fishing regulations, monitoring and other factors.

The statewide Steelhead Management Plan is posted on the department’s website at http://Fish & Wildlife.wa.gov/conservation/fisheries/steelhead/management_plan.html .

Nominations for the work group are due to Fish & Wildlife by June 30. A nomination form and address for submission are available at http://Fish & Wildlife.wa.gov/news/attach/may2213a.doc.

Fish & Wildlife will select the membership of the work group by July 15.

Governor signs wolf management legislation

Gov. Jay Inslee today signed legislation that will provide state wildlife managers more resources to prevent wolf-livestock conflict and expand criteria for compensation to livestock owners for wolf-related losses.

Senate Bill 5193, requested by the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife and prime-sponsored by Sen. John Smith, R-Colville, was supported by a broad cross-section of interest groups.

“The gray wolf population is recovering quickly in Washington,” said Inslee. “This bill received bipartisan support from legislators across the state because it represents a practical, realistic approach to minimizing wolf-livestock conflict while recognizing the need for fair compensation to ranchers and farmers.”

Fish & Wildlife Director Phil Anderson said the department appreciates the Governor’s support for the bill and the efforts of both Republican and Democratic legislators to get it passed. “Washington state is committed to wolf recovery, but sustainable recovery requires that we address the legitimate needs of farmers, ranchers and other residents of the communities that are on the front line of wolf recovery,” he said. “This bill does that.”

As signed by the Governor, SB 5193:

• Increases the state’s personalized license plate fee by $10, effective Oct. 1, 2013, with the proceeds to support Fish & Wildlife’s efforts to monitor wolf recovery and prevent wolf-livestock conflict in collaboration with farmers, ranchers and local governments, and to compensate livestock owners. The Department of Licensing estimates the fee will raise more than $1.5 million during the upcoming two-year budget cycle.

• Allows Fish & Wildlife to compensate livestock owners for their losses at the current market value of the animals.

• Permits compensation regardless of whether livestock owners were raising the animals for commercial purposes.

• Revises other elements of state law to make it more consistent with the state’s 2011 Wolf Conservation and Management Plan as adopted by the state Fish and Wildlife Commission.

State wildlife managers estimate between 50 and 100 gray wolves are present in the state, and that the wolf population nearly doubled in 2012. As of March, there were 10 confirmed packs and two suspected packs, plus two packs with dens in Oregon and British Columbia whose members range into the state. Most of the confirmed packs are found in Okanogan, Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille counties.

Nate Pamplin, the Fish & Wildlife wildlife program director, said broad support for SB 5193 sends a clear signal about the importance of collaboration to support long-term wolf recovery while respecting community values. The final version of the bill passed the Senate 43-1 and the House 96-2.

“By supporting key elements of the wolf management plan - monitoring, conflict prevention and compensation - this new law furthers wolf recovery and acknowledges the impacts on farmers, ranchers and local communities,” Pamplin said.

Pamplin urged residents to contact the nearest Fish & Wildlife office for assistance with measures to prevent wolf-livestock conflict. Also, he said, people can call a Fish & Wildlife hotline at 1-877-933-9847 or use the website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/gray_wolf/ ) to report wolf sightings or suspected attacks.

Daily World staff reports