Tag Archives: fish

River, Wetland and Habitat Restoration – First Do No Harm

THI.DoNoHarmAD.2013(F)It is one of the precepts all students are taught in medical school. It reminds a physician that he or she must always consider the possible harm any intervention might cause. It also applies quite accurately to the process of restoring rivers, wetlands and uplands. The very act of “restoring” any resource or habitat implies that you do no harm.

Our natural environment plays host to an immense variety of species, many of them microscopic. Whether reducing excessive erosion or enhancing habitat for fish, we not only tread lightly on the delicate ecosystems that exist, we strive to protect and enhance it.  >Learn More about EcoBlu!

FlyTalk Asks ‘Why Not Quality Trout Management?’

Kirk Deeter recently asks “Why Not More ‘Quality Trout Management?’” on the blog FlyTalk http://www.fieldandstream.com/blogs/flytalk. “Trout anglers can learn a lot from deer hunters, and bird hunters. At least they should when it comes to managing fisheries. I think we’re all starting to wake up to the fact that, in certain places, hatcheries, and hatchery fish, do more harm than good,” he notes.

For nearly twenty years, Trout Headwaters and its clients have focused considerable energy and investment on trout habitat restoration. Our work has been to restore cold water habitats across the U.S., increasing biodiversity and restoring ecological function. Over this time unfortunately we have been witness to lots of invasive management and restoration techniques which damaged stream and wetlands systems, including inappropriate hatchery stockings. Some of these damaging so-called “restoration” projects were simply accidents or catastrophes (depending on scale) others have been part of some accepted ill-informed management strategy. See “Rotenone? 1952 Called and Wants Its Fisheries Management Strategy Back” for a pertinent example.

Read the full post Why Not More ‘Quality Trout Management?’

The Yellowstone River – Still the Longest Undammed River in the Lower 48?

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Montana Department of Environmental Quality have issued a joint notice advising plans currently being considered by the District Engineer at Omaha, Nebraska.  According to the notice NOW-2008-02556-MTB the applicant is intending to “conduct periodic placement of rock” on the existing diversion dam and to enable full flows to the applicant even in the event of severe water shortages in the Yellowstone.

The project reach at Intake Dam east of Glendive, Montana is occupied habitat for Pallid Sturgeon, an endangered species presently under federal and state protections.  According to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks:  “It’s present range in Montana includes the Lower Yellowstone River where damming, channelizing and diking has destroyed much of its habitat.”  More http://fwp.mt.gov/fishAndWildlife/species/endangered/pallidSturgeon/

Photo below of the dam on the Yellowstone River at Intake proposed for yet more rock.

Dam across Yellowstone-IntakeMT

Read a copy of the Public Notice:  NWO-2008-02556-MTB or via

http://www.nwo.usace.army.mil/Portals/23/docs/regulatory/publicnotices/MT/NWO-2008-02556-MTB.pdf

The Public Comment period is open through June 6, 2014 by writing the US Army Corps of Engineers, PO Box 2256, Billings MT 59103 or calling direct to Cathy Juhas at USACE (406) 657-5910.

Restoration Returns – Green Jobs

A recent report from The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) provides a detailed glimpse into the positive economic impacts resulting from environmental restoration activities. The Partners for Fish and Wildlife (PFW) program has contributed $18.6 million to local economies, leveraging $142 million with partner contributions, for a combined total of $161 million spent on PFW program projects. “For every dollar spent by the PFW and Coastal Programs, $7 to $9 of restoration work is happening on the ground,” according to the report.

Looking at only at a single year (FY 2011) for example, the “total economic stimulus created by the PFW program amounted to $292 million in output and 3,500 new jobs” notes the report.

>Read the report http://www.fws.gov/home/pdfs/restoration-returns.pdf

Rotenone? 1952 Called and Wants Its Fisheries Management Strategy Back

A recent study in the Transactions of the American Fisheries Society  (Volume 142, Issue 1, 2013) reports that after two decades, wild trout in the Blackfoot River Basin of Montana are still benefiting from stream restoration efforts.

That’s great news that a peer-reviewed study finds a positive correlation between restoration and wild trout populations.  Habitat restoration offers numerous ecological benefits, many of which are far too complex to fully understand.

What is of concern in this study is why resource agencies will loudly proclaim the benefits of habitat restoration in one stream reach, but quietly use poisons to destroy habitat in another reach. The Blackfoot Challenge Project, in its difficult to find, yet technically public, planning documents clearly indicates stream poisoning and restocking as a restoration strategy, in the following sections:

2.5.1 Experimentally remove established brook trout populations;
2.5.2  Suppress northern pike in Clearwater Lakes chain;
3.1.2 Aggressively protect remaining native species complexes… by aggressively removing any nonnative invaders;
4. 3 Develop genetic management plans and guidelines for appropriate use of transplantation and artificial propagation.

What you will not find in this document are words like “rotenone,” “Antimycin-A,” “fish-toxicants,” “piscicides,” and common phrases like “native trout restoration.”  These terms are increasingly being cleansed from agency documents and discourse.  Now those responsible for sterilizing streams in the name of ‘restoration’ are avoiding mention of the lethal policies and practices.

The flawed logic of single-species management by any name, is severely damaging to aquatic ecosystems.  How can poisoning all of the living inhabitants of a stream reach, containing the intricate web of life that supports trout at its apex, be considered restorative? More than 70% of the funding for The Blackfoot Challenge comes from tax dollars.  Does it make sense to use tax dollars to restore riparian areas in one place and poison streams in another?

Our company believes protecting and restoring healthy, functioning freshwater streams and wetlands to sustain a high diversity of organisms is a much more effective and economical way of conserving species.

“Ecosystems will increasingly be a melting pot of long-term residents and of new arrivals,” said a team of scientists in the journal, Nature, calling conservationists to a new way of thinking.

Visit StopRiverKilling.org: http://www.stopriverkilling.org.

Unintended Consequences May Have Created a “Point of No Return” for Commercial Fisheries

Graphic courtesy of Conservation Magazine.

Graphic courtesy of Conservation Magazine.

In Conservation Magazine’s recent good read, “Point of No Return: Why Aren’t Fish Populations Recovering?” author Natasha Loder examines why fishery management policies may have resulted in an insurmountable “Darwinian Debt.”

In the 1940s, cod in the northeast Arctic had an average size of 95 cm. Today they average only 65 cm. And average size and age of fish at maturation have been decreasing for decades in many commercially exploited fish stocks. Size limits may be the culprit.

A controlled, peer-reviewed study published in the journal Science in 2002, turned conventional thinking about fisheries management on its head.
“In most commercial fisheries, fish are removed on the basis of size. There are minimum, not maximum, size limits. But the study’s results show that this approach may have results that are exactly the opposite of what is intended. Within only four generations, taking out larger fish produced a smaller and less fertile population that also converted food into flesh less efficiently,” writes Loder.

Read more: http://conservationmagazine.org/2008/07/point-of-no-return/?utm_source=Conservation+Magazine&utm_campaign=7582ac4c87-This_Week_s_Good_Read_Nov+30_2013_10_19_2013&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_d0cc46f2ab-7582ac4c87-294168197

Coastal Wetlands Continue to Be Gobbled Up by Development

Copyright Trout Headwaters Inc 2013 WetlandWetlands in the U.S. are still taking a hit, and human activity, urban, suburban, and rural development, is the cause.

A new study released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) says between 2004 and 2009, wetland area in the coastal watersheds of the U.S. declined by an estimated 360,720 acres. The worst part: The rate of loss is on the increase. More than 80,000 acres of coastal wetlands are being lost on average each year, up from 60,000 acres lost per year during the previous study.

A strategy of achieving “no net loss” by offsetting wetland acreage losses with wetland creation or reestablishment does not appear to so far to have been effective for coastal watersheds.  Both freshwater and saltwater coastal wetlands are absolutely critical to the health of our bays and estuaries.  As we saw with Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast, continuing losses of wetlands in coastal watersheds have direct costs for people and longer-term resource implications for fish, wildlife and other natural resources.

Despite this terrible truth, the only major news organization to cover this story was NPR.

Read the press release: http://www.fws.gov/news/ShowNews.cfm?ID=7B8CB057-90CD-5C03-6EA2F94520ED3BF1

Read the full study: http://www.fws.gov/wetlands/Documents/Status-and-Trends-of-Wetlands-In-the-Coastal-Watersheds-of-the-Conterminous-US-2004-to-2009.pdf

Cold-water Fish Food Not Adapting to a Warming World, Study Says

macroinvertebrates“Tiny sea creatures that play a big role in the ocean food chain are unable to adapt to warming oceans, according to a new study that may have profound ramifications for fisheries,” this according to a recent NBC news report about an Australian study.

Does this point to a similar problem for cold, freshwater fisheries, and the macroinvertebrates that are staples of fish such as trout, salmon and grayling?

In the ocean, the cold-water plankton lives for one year or less. Researchers examined a 50-year dataset from the North Atlantic to determine how this creature and another plankton that thrives in warmer water fared over half a century.

“Lots of people have speculated that animals with short generation times will simply adapt to change,” Graeme Hays, a marine scientist at Australia’s Deakin University, told NBC News in an email. “We show that is not the case.”

Read more: http://www.nbcnews.com/science/cold-water-fish-food-not-adapting-warming-world-study-says-8C11432387

Tribes’ win to restore salmon habitat may go way beyond $1B in culvert repairs

Photo courtesy of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

Photo courtesy of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife

The Seattle Times reported that a federal judge has ordered culvert repairs to ensure tribes have fish to catch, as guaranteed by their treaty rights. The ruling could have broader impact on other types of development.

A long-awaited tribal fishing-rights decision by a federal judge means the state must immediately accelerate more than $1 billion in repairs to culverts that run beneath state roads and block access to some 1,000 miles of salmon habitat.

The ruling comes out of the landmark 1974 Boldt decision, which upheld the rights of tribes to fish, and could result in other court-ordered restoration work, according to tribal leaders and policy experts.

“This culvert case is a ringing of the bell, OK you got to wake up,” said Ron Allen, chairman of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe. “We have to protect and restore the environment while we continue to look creatively for ways to develop new job and industry opportunities.”

Read more:

http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2020684064_tribesculvertsxml.html#.UVmf4fcQ2Ro.twitter

Quilt Tells Story of River Restoration

The Oregon History Museum recently installed quilt exhibit titled, “Two Rivers Three Sisters,” telling a story of Sisters Country communities coming together to revitalize Whychus Creek and the Metolius River, according to a press release.

The exhibit displays 17 quilt panels made by 18 Central Oregon master quilters and hangs 40 feet tall. It will also feature custom-tied steelhead flies made by Sherry Steele, from Sisters, who designed and tied The Whychus Canyon Steelhead Fly to honor the Deschutes Land Trust’s Whychus Canyon Preserve.

After many years of restoration efforts, Whychus Creek was opened, protections were put in place, and fish were released into Metolius River. Locals say native fish are returning to spawn.

The Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show is touring a giant quilt that tells the story of Whychus Creek and Metolius River restoration efforts in Oregon.

Read more: http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2013/01/quilt_that_tells_story_of_impa.html