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#1063666 - 03/20/24 11:40 AM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET *** [Re: Rivrguy]
Rivrguy Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 4398
Loc: Somewhere on the planet,I hope
I think this is article relevant to the Chehalis Basin. If you drive from Aberdeen to Olympia you get navigate the construction or culvert replacement. Here is the thing for the amount it cost just how many more fish will this produce? Not many is my guess knowing the streams. So this is bad and no is my answer as many creatures need stream passage. All that said as this is about fish it would be nice if they went for bang for the buck. The state should be going after blockages with the largest amount of spawning and rearing habitat above the blockages. Judging from what I have seen that is not what is happening.

Culvert project must benefit salmon, taxpayers

The Columbian

Ayearlong investigation by The Seattle Times delivers some eyeopening facts.

After looking into Washington’s project to remove or repair culverts that hamper fish passage, the Times’ summary of the report says: “Washington is spending nearly $1 million a day on a mammoth project to help salmon migration.” It later adds: “As costs soar, the Inslee administration isn’t asking this simple question: Is it actually helping salmon?”

Indeed, Gov. Jay Inslee and other state officials should quickly assess the cost and the effectiveness of the program, ensuring that it is working as intended and that it is a prudent use of tax dollars.

Culverts are passageways under roads or overpasses or parking lots intended to allow for the passage of waterways — and migrating fish. They typically look like a corrugated metal tube or a concrete tunnel, and they can be found throughout Washington and other states.

Designed correctly, culverts allow for salmon to return to their spawning grounds. But many passages have been found to actually impede migration, contributing to diminishing salmon runs.

Although the state owns 800 culverts that block an estimated 1,000 miles of streams, most Washingtonians likely have never given them much thought. But a federal judge in 2013 demanded that we start paying attention; a court ruling sided with 21 Western Washington tribes who argued that salmon-blocking culverts violated treaty fishing rights.

The state of Washington appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, where a 4-4 tie left the previous ruling in place, and an injunction gives the Washington State Department of Transportation until 2030 to replace impediments.

In recent years, the Legislature has dedicated $3.8 billion in funding for the project. But the Times reports: “Washington hasn’t coordinated with a tangle of other public and private parties who own blockages on those same streams, so in some cases the state is spending millions to restore parts of streams that salmon may not be able to reach.”

Progress is being made; WSDOThasrepairedor replaced 146 culverts. But it also has identified 281 more

(some under construction) that require work in order to open habitat upstream from those priority culverts.

That is problematic, and it represents the worst of government tendencies: Spending money just to say the issue has been addressed while giving little consideration to the effectiveness of those expenditures.

Meanwhile, costs are rising because of inflation and unanticipated scenarios. Foroneexample,WSDOT is building bridges — rather than replacing one culvert with a larger one — more often than expected. This does have some benefits; it helps prepare the state for the effects of climate change and more frequent flood events. But estimated construction costs have ballooned from $3.8 billion to as much as $7.8 billion.

Rep. Jim Walsh, R-Aberdeen, has led a push to use funds from the state’s Climate Commitment Act to help pay for culvert renovations and has said of cost overruns, “These are more than just inconveniences; they are a betrayal of the public trust.” At the same time, Walsh is promoting a ballot initiative that would repeal a carbon emission cap-and-trade program that raised $1.8 billion in revenue during 2023.

Political rhetoric aside, Inslee must take the lead in devising a plan that actually helps salmon and reflects good stewardship of tax money.
Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in

#1063667 - 03/20/24 04:00 PM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: eyeFISH]
Carcassman Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 7440
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
It may have changed since I was involved but back then new habitat was opened and the escarpment goes remained what it was pre-project. More habitat, less spawners.

I do think it is time that the taxpaying public demanded demnstratable results. Chinook, steelhead, and SRKWs have been listed for how long? 20 years? Thirty years? Are they recovering? If not, why not. If we as an overall society are not willing to get some positive results then stop spending that money and use it on other thins this state needs. But demand results there, too.

#1063671 - 03/23/24 01:49 PM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: Carcassman]
Rivrguy Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 4398
Loc: Somewhere on the planet,I hope
Well do you know others are starting to think like many of us. Good read.

Return focus to fish in culvert replacement

The Seattle Times

To hear Gov. Jay Inslee tell it, Washington officials are powerless to improve the state’s court-ordered multibilliondollar program replacing fish-blocking culverts.

“We’re stuck” in fulfilling conditions of a federal judge’s ruling, Inslee said in a recent interview.

Our hands are tied, he has effectively signaled.

That’s a cynical take. Here’s another way to look at it: State taxpayers are forking over nearly $8 billion on culvert replacement, a once-in-a-lifetime chance to restore salmon populations in local watersheds. The state should do everything in its power to get the most for that hefty investment.

Yet, Inslee and state leaders have resigned themselves to meeting U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo Martinez’s order that focuses on some 430 barriers under state highways. Like a student pulling an all-nighter to prepare for an exam, the Washington State Department of Transportation is pushing projects as fast as possible to meet a 2030 deadline to reopen 90% of upstream habitat. The result has led to an exercise in tape-measuring — replacing culverts where the greatest length of habitat is opened, regardless of fish potential — that guides the program.

Breaching barriers and installing new bridges, as outlined in a recent Seattle Times investigation by Times reporter Mike Reicher, does little good for salmon in some locations because there are often additional challenges to fish, including other culverts downstream and upstream. Those impediments are often owned by cities, counties and other jurisdictions not subject to Martinez’s order. But they too have to be addressed for fish to migrate successfully in and out of local streams and waterways.

The state’s Transportation Department must do a better job to collaborate with those other culvert owners. In 2020, the Legislature ordered state agencies to coordinate a statewide strategy on culvert replacement. It has yet to be completed.

William Stelle, the former regional director of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fisheries for the West Coast, calls WSDOT’s current culvert program “the squandering of a powerful opportunity to leverage enormous gains in habitat.” Stelle suggests convening the leaders

of salmon recovery efforts at all levels of government, including the tribes, and augmenting work with additional funds including recent contributions from the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Act. University of Washington researchers have even developed an app that prioritizes entire watersheds, rather than individual culverts, where funding can make the greatest environmental improvements.

Of 84 completed WSDOT projects, surveyors have so far found just 834 fish, with more than half of those projects finding none at all. The lawsuit tribes brought over culverts was because of harms those blockages cause to salmon. Shouldn’t growing those fish numbers then be the paramount goal of everyone — the state, environmentalists, tribes and even Judge Martinez himself?

At a minimum, Inslee’s administration should consult the tribes and contemplate approaching Martinez to ask the judge to reconsider the order, if they can forge a superior plan that would ultimately bring back more salmon.

The Times editorial board remains supportive of this bold public works effort. But there aren’t endless funds available for this work — and there will be less if residents tire of projects that don’t show fish gain. A fire hose of funding — about $1 million a day spent — should be aimed at where it will do the most for salmon populations.
Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in

#1063672 - 03/23/24 05:05 PM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: eyeFISH]
Carcassman Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 7440
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
It's time to stop doing feel good projects and do things that result in demonstrably more fish.

There is a big need to have lots of monitoring. And just the good old fashioned life history monitoring. The watershed I worked on for a while had a lake tributary to the main creek. Where the outlet stream went under 101 the culvert had a drop of a foot or so at most flows. No problem for adult salmonids; blocked cottids, though. But, it was difficult for juvenile coho and steelhead to pass up. Many did, because we saw them in the spring at the smolt trap on the lake.

The lake had largemouth when I was there and then got Northern Pike. After rehabbing, they did not restock the exotics but left it to the natives. The lake's capacity, without the exotic predators, was something north of 30K, which was double what the rest of the watershed could do. We know that coho (especially) and steelhead will seek out these lakes and ponds to overwinter. This gives a big bump in smolt numbers and size. The larger coho smolts were measured as having higher survival.

Part of the recovery effort should be reconnecting access to these lakes and ponds. It's not just expanding spawning distance.

#1063673 - 03/24/24 08:52 AM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: eyeFISH]
Salmo g. Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/08/99
Posts: 13394
So true C'man. It seems like with so many agency projects the measure of success is spending all the money that is allocated, rather than achieving demonstrable results. I support the concept of reconnecting habitat that results in measurable increases in salmonid productivity. Unfortunately it appears that the culvert case is more about replacing culverts than about increasing salmon production. I'm glad for the Times investigative reporting.

#1063674 - 03/24/24 10:52 AM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: eyeFISH]
Smalma Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/25/01
Posts: 2834
Loc: Marysville
All the news releases that talk about salmon recovery by fixed these culverts leave many with the impression that doing so will help in the recovery of listed species.

For the part of the State I'm familiar with (North Puget Sound - Nooksack, Samish, Skagit, Stillaguamish and Snohomish) fixing those state road culverts will not appreciably aid in the recovery of the ESA list Chinook and steelhead. However, as a sea-run cutthroat angler it is my cutthroat that will benefit most from improved passage on those small streams.

Small streams is the key here. The engineers that designed the State road crossing were not fools. The realized that for the larger streams the needed capacity to safely pass flood waters were bridges reserving the use of culverts for the smaller streams. Most of those streams at normal flows I can step across, and I can not recall a single that at low flow at even 77 years of age that I could not jump across. Those that support anadromous salmonids are coho and cutthroat creeks. I can not think of a single Chinook spawning streams in North Puget Sound region that are cross by state road that does not have a bridge. With very few exceptions the same is true for steelhead. Those steelhead exceptions are only occasionally used by steelhead on unusual waters (with climate change those exceptions are becoming rarer. Even so fixing those culverts would potential steelhead spawning by much less than 1%.

I do admit that with improved upstream passage juvenile salmonids could use that access for rearing, especially over-winter rearing. The unfortunate truth is that the state of the habitat on those rivers is in such poor shape that adding a few miles of potential juvenile will not move the recovery needle.

As much as I love my cutthroat not sure that spending nearly 8 billion dollars is the best investment in salmonid recovery.

My biggest disappointment with the co-managers which seem to be fine with and maybe encourage that public that fixing those culverts is a significant step towards recovering Puget Sound ESA listed Chinook and Steelhead.


#1063675 - 03/24/24 11:32 AM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: eyeFISH]
Carcassman Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 7440
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
It really is more about spending money than results. In far-eastern WA WDFW Habitat was pushing a culvert removal that would have allowed Easter Brook Trout to move upstream into Bull Trout habitat. In talking to them, it was their job to spend the money; it was somebody else's responsibility to protect the Bulls.

#1063676 - 03/24/24 02:05 PM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: Carcassman]
Rivrguy Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 4398
Loc: Somewhere on the planet,I hope
I think we should have started another thread but here is another look at the issue.

Removing salmon barriers surges to $1M a day

Mike Reicher

Seattle Times staff reporter

The coho salmon has already conquered the Ballard Locksfish ladder, swum 17 miles through urban Seattle waterways and poweredthroughatunnelunder nine lanes of Interstate 405.

It faces a gantlet of pipes and concrete tunnels ahead, the legacy of human development over once-pristine habitat. Next up is a nearly 300-foot pipebeneathanindoorshooting range and a parking lot.

If the coho makes it through, all the way to

the upper reaches of this obscure stream in Bellevue, it will find the single most expensive construction project in the state’s costliestever salmon-recovery undertaking: $110 million for new bridges to carry Interstate 90 and local traffic high above a restored creek.

But just a third of a mile farther upstream, the fish will slam into a pile of boulders and junk metal, before confronting two concrete pipes perched 5 feet above the streambed. Surveyors determinednosalmoncould make that leap.

Yet the Washington State Department of Transportation ignored those barriers on Sunset Creek and hundreds of others like them across Western Washington in its massive effort to restore salmon habitat. And the estimate has now doubled to as much as $7.8 billion — the cost

of replacing the Highway 99 viaduct along Seattle’s waterfront, twice over, plus change.

WSDOT greenlit the Sunset Creek project anyway in its race to comply with a federal court order won a decade ago by Northwest tribes. By 2030, the state is requiredtotearouthundreds of poorly designed concrete or metal pipes called culverts that block fish passage under state highways.

WSDOT and Gov. Jay Inslee’s administration aren’t factoring in — because the court order doesn’t require it — the countless other culverts owned by municipalities, railroads, homeowners and others that block salmon migration.

A Seattle Times analysis of available project design reports found that for every barrier WSDOT fixes, nine others upstream and two downstream partially or fully block fish migration. The state or other owners may fix some of them, but most are not scheduled for removal.

The pace of construction has picked up dramatically in the past few years, which drivers can see in snarled traffic and torn-up roadways. Washington is now spending about $1 million a day to meet the deadline.

In some cases, the work has restored good salmon habitat.

In many others, WSDOT and the Inslee administration have narrowly focused on fulfilling the terms of the court order and haven’t seized opportunities to prevent their investments from being ineffective or even worthless.

Now the state needs $3.5 billion to $4 billion more than the Legislature previously allocated—morethanhalfof WSDOT’sannualbudget.But thedoublingcostswouldbuy a relatively small amount of habitat and require construction on Interstate 5, I-90 and other major highways.

Western Washington tribes are willing to wait generations for the current state investments to pay off — the long game. The tribes, as well as the state, contend that removing these manmade stream barriers now is essential for salmon recovery.

However, as the state barrels toward the court deadline, and key salmon and steelhead trout species continue to decline, the Inslee administration isn’t asking one simple question: Is all this construction actually helping salmon?

Where are the fish?

Whensalmonreturnfrom the ocean to spawn, some species

SALMON from page A1 to A7
swim high into streams and tributaries, passing through road culverts. Young salmon also traverse culverts while rearing.

But because of flawed design or poor maintenance, many culverts impede salmon. They can be too narrow and create a “fire hose” effect, or too steep for juveniles. Or — like the one on Sunset Creek — they are so high that even the most athletic fish can’t make the leap.

In an urban stream, a salmon faces multiple road culverts that can block its spawning migration in different ways. Some culverts are complete barriers, while others may let it slip through. Each stream crossing could beownedbyadifferentparty. But the federal injunction only applies to state-owned culverts, leaving others in the way.

WSDOT is now targeting some culverts that the state itself acknowledges may be “stranded investments,” on streams where consultants noted “poor quality” habitat. Salmon recovery experts have scratched their heads, wondering why the state chose some streams.

“Does the public know we’re spending billions on culverts that fish won’t be able to reach?” said Carl Schroeder of the Association of Washington Cities. “I don’t think so.”

The state doesn’t really know if fish are even getting throughitsnewstreamcrossings, nor is it required to by the court order. It could try, bystudyingsalmonreturning to those streams, but it rarely even counts them.

The state is planning increasingly complex and expensive projects to replace culverts, such as at Sunset Creek in Bellevue. Costs have skyrocketed in recent years as crews are stretched thin amid a nationwide surge in transportation construction. (Kevin Clark / The Seattle Times)Less WSDOT surveys streams for spawning fish once or twice after a project’s completion, providing only a snapshot that could miss salmon returning days or even years later.

Over the past decade, surveyors hiked upstream of 84 completed projects and counted a total of 834 fish, though one project accounted for 495 of them. More than half of the surveys found no fish.

The Inslee administration hasn’t asked for more

funding for fish counts. Instead, WSDOT says it is focused on construction and making sure the new projects are not barriers to salmon.

Inslee blames the court order for the state’s predicament.

“There is a federal judicial decision — which is the supreme law of the land — which has ordered the state of Washington to do this work on a designated number of culverts,” Inslee said in an interview. “If you want to criticize the prioritization of these investments, you need to focus your criticism on the federal judicial system — not the state.”

Some culvert replacements are bringing salmon back to long-lost spawning grounds. Like dogs rushing throughanewgapinabackyard fence, salmon have quickly repopulated some streams after barriers were removed. Other projects help with water quality or protect roads from damage as climate change intensifies storms. But those aren’t the goals of the court order — or the gusher of taxpayer money.

“You have to start somewhere,” said Kim Rydholm, WSDOT’s fishpassage project manager. “Some of these sites we get immediate fish use and immediate benefit, but for others it’s part of a bigger picture.”

Manyinsalmonrecovery,including tribal leaders, say the WSDOT work will unlock other investments in salmon habitat in the future.

“They are opening up very needed and critical habitat,” said Ed Johnstone, chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission (and aQuinaultIndianNationmember), which represents tribes in ongoing discussions with WSDOT. “Our salmon are in trouble for many reasons. Culverts are chief among them.”

Others agree that replacing barrier culverts is critical but say the state needs a smarter approach.

“Salmon recovery funding is not limitless,” said Jessica Helsley, government affairs director at the nonprofit Wild Salmon Center, which works on salmon protection andrestorationin PacificRimcountries. “At the end of the day, when moneyrunsout,wewanttobesure it actually benefits fish.”

“When salmon are not plentiful, we suffer,” said Ed Johnstone, chairman of the Northwest Indian FisheriesCommission.Twenty-one tribes sued Washington to enforce their treaty fishing rights, opening a gusher of public spending on culvert replacements. (Kevin Clark / The Seattle Times)Less

‘Salmon are our buffalo’

At the beginning of the 20th century, white industrialists overfished salmon, built hydroelectric dams, straightened streams and botchedhatcherypractices.Salmon runs collapsed.

ThestateDepartmentofFisheries called out road culverts as culprits asearlyas1949inapamphletcalled “The Salmon Crisis.” The next year, thestateattorneygeneralfoundthat fish-blocking culverts violated state law.

Despite knowing about the barriers, engineers over the last century continued to use crude designs to pass water under roads, the fish an afterthought — if considered at all.

Salmon runs — and the tribes’ catch — kept dropping. Yet fishing was their right. The tribes in present-day Western Washington signed treaties in the 1850s that ceded millions of acres of land, but they retained their “right of taking fish” where they always had.

In 2001, a group of 21 tribes sued the state to repair or replace its fish-blocking culverts. WSDOT had been fixing some culverts, but slowly. The tribes built their case on the landmark 1974 federal court Boldt decision, which affirmed the tribes’ treaty right to fish and split the catch 50-50 with non-Indians. It also established tribes as co-managers of the fisheries.

“Salmon are our buffalo,” Johnstone said during the ensuing trial. “It is intertwined within our culture. Our songs, our ceremonies, our subsistence coincide with the salmon. When salmon are not plentiful, we suffer.”

The state argued that replacing its culverts alone wouldn’t necessarily bringbacksalmon.Otherlandowners had barriers downstream of the state highways, lawyers and state witnesses pointed out.

“So we have to replace culverts even where no salmon can reach them,” state Solicitor General Noah Purcell told the U.S. Supreme Court during appeals. “And that is an utter waste of public funds.”

That was an excuse, lawyers for the tribes argued: “The fact that someone else may have done wrong does not relieve the State of its own obligations under the treaty.” The tribes also showed that many of the other barriers only partially blocked fish.

Federal district court Judge Ricardo Martinez sided with the tribes. He noted that the tribes were assured that their fishing rights were secure, and “these assurances would only be meaningful if they carried the implied promise” that white settlers wouldn’t harm thenplentiful salmon stocks.

In 2013, he issued an injunction requiring the state to make its culverts passable for salmon and steelhead.

First, Martinez ordered the state — in consultation with the tribes — to compile a list of all fish-blocking culverts under state-owned roads in the tribes’ fishing areas, which cover territory west of the Cascade MountainsandnorthoftheColumbia River watershed.

The most impactful part of the order was its schedule: WSDOT had to identify its culverts with 200 meters or more of upstream habitat, then by 2030 repair or replace enough of them to open 90% of the potential habitat above.

The quality of the salmon habitat didn’t matter. That list is still the basis for WSDOT’s construction plan.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Martinez’s injunction, and it was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in a tied vote, with no written opinion.

The injunction requires the state to count every foot upstream of the WSDOT culvert, including tributaries, as “potential habitat” — until the next natural barrier, such as a waterfall, or the end of potential fish use.

Thatmeansthestateignoresnonstate- owned culverts and dams on the stream — whether or not those have replacement plans — as it adds mileage toward the 90%.

Because the state assumes the other barriers will eventually be fixed, “we turn a blind eye” when assessing a stream for its potential habitat gain, said Christy Rains, a formerfishpassagemanagerforthe Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Sunset Creek, for example, has five fish-blocking culverts upstream ofI-90.YettheDepartmentofTransportation counts almost all of the creek as “potential” salmon habitat and says its project will open up more than 1.5 miles’ worth, despite the impassable blockage one-third of a mile above its massive project.

“Are they just concerned about scoring points with Judge Martinez’s injunction order, or are they really concerned about recovering salmon?” said Paul Simmerly, who haslivedbySunsetCreeksince1958 and, after learning of the WSDOT project, has drawn maps of the stream’s barriers. “Yes, we owe it to the tribes, but what is the best way to spend the money to create the most salmon?”

Paul Simmerly, who has lived near Sunset Creek in Bellevue since 1958, was baffled when he heard WSDOT was spending $110 million to replace a group of culverts. Sunset Creek has multiple other barriers that completely block salmon, which aren’t scheduled to be replaced. “Are they really concerned about recovering salmon?” he said. (Kevin Clark / The Seattle Times)Less Tribes, though, see the longerterm valueinWSDOTprojects.The agency’s culverts are typically the most expensive barrier to replace in a watershed, so the state and tribes believe the WSDOT spending will kick-start other habitat improvements in the same area, eventually creating near-ideal salmon streams.

“Maybe there are certain streams or projects that don’t have immediate benefits we’d like to see,” said Brett Shattuck, a senior scientist at the Tulalip Tribes. “But it is that linchpin — you’ve just removed the biggest impediment.”

A salmon ‘moonshot’

In the years following Martinez’s decision, the Inslee administration made little progress. By June 2021, WSDOT had repaired or replaced just 86 of the roughly 430 barriers needed to meet Martinez’s 2030 deadline.

Constructionrampedupdramatically in the past two years, after the Legislature finally funded the program. As of this year, WSDOT had fixed 146 injunction barriers, and it has identified 281 more (someofwhichareunderconstruction) that would bring it to 90% of total habitat by 2030.

RogerMillar,theheadofWSDOT, said the task is monumental: “It’s equivalent of a moonshot,” he said. “I mean, we’ve been asked — we’ve been directed to — remediate generations of environmental damage in a very short period of time.

“And are we going to make mistakes?” he added. “Yeah. Have we made mistakes? Probably. But you know, you’ve got a team that’s gone from zero to being within reachofthemoon—ofreallyopening this habitat up, and meeting the letter and the intent of the injunction. And that frankly should be celebrated.”

Last fall, the state took a closer look at its remaining culverts, and WSDOT revealed it had a problem. By the end of 2024, the department will have committed all $3.8 billion previously pegged for culverts, but that amount will only open up 80% of the habitat.

To reach the last 10% — replacing about 100 culverts — WSDOT estimates it could cost up to $4 billion more. For context, $4 billion would buy a whole new electric ferry fleet.

Washingtonlawmakersaregrowing skeptical. Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, the ranking Republican on the Senate Transportation Committee, hopes the state goes back to court for relief.

“To spend $4 billion to fix 10% of your culverts — to have a minimal effect of what you’re going to accomplish here — something needs to be done differently,” King said. “We ought to go talk to the tribes and file suit, and explain to them the situation. They’re rational people. Let’s talk to them and figure something out.”

The new price tag, and the pending deadline, will likely force a conversation about trade-offs. Martinez’s clerk said he declined to comment due to the potential for “future proceedings.” Attorney General Bob Ferguson, whose office represented the state in appealing Martinez’s order, also declined an interview request “due to ethical and legal reasons,” his spokesperson said.

John Sledd, who represented the tribes in the culverts case, said at a recent tribal conference that the mounting costs could have “real political consequences” as funds are potentially shifted from other programs,someofthem“programs that the tribes care about.”

“So there are some really tough choices that need to be made,” he said.

A focus on mileage

In pristine salmon habitat, lush plants shade a stream and keep it cool. Logjams and gravel bars slow the

water, creating pools for salmon to rest. The stream bends andcurves,andsidechannelsform nurseries for young salmon.

But Duffner Ditch in Whatcom County is another story. Beginning north of the Canadian border, it shoots straight for 4 miles through farmland, gathering agricultural runoff from smaller ditches. It flows under driveways and roads, and fish might get blocked at multiple crossings.

Its bottom is sandy or muddy, and some stretches are full of invasive weeds. It can run dry in summer months. It lacks oxygen, but does have crappie and other exotic fish species that prey on juvenile salmon.

When part of Duffner Ditch was targeted by WSDOT, a consulting firm considered whether it could support salmon at any stage of life. It determined the chances were “severely limited by these conditions.” Downstream, a privately owned tide gate blocked fish from even entering Duffner Ditch.

Yet the Department of Transportation replaced not one barrier on Duffner Ditch, but two — for more than $4.5 million. They landed on the list created after the 2013 injunction, and WSDOT said the projects would open up more than 5 miles of “potential habitat.”

“It’s almost laughable,” said David Beatty, a retired professor who has worked on salmon restoration in the area for decades. “Just because a stream has been designated a tributary of a larger creek, it doesn’t mean that is the type of habitat you’d invest a lot of money to get fish to.”

On some projects, “the habitat might not be the best place to propagate salmon,” Tom Jameson, the fish passage division manager at the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, acknowledged. “Some of those might be stranded investments right now.” But he emphasized other projects have outsized benefits for salmon.

Meanwhile, other salmon recovery projects — even those that help Chinook salmon, the food source for endangered southern resident orcas — struggle to secure state funding. The WSDOT projects don’t benefit Chinook as much as other species because they typically spawn in sections of streams too wide for culverts.

In the early years of the culvert replacement program, WSDOT relied on a scoring system, developed by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, to weigh costs and benefits of projects, including whether they would help endangered salmon.

Butithasnowlargelyabandoned the scoring system — and its focus on quality of the habitat. Instead, in a race to hit Martinez’s 2030 deadline, the state is focusing almost entirely on how much mileage is upstream.

“Are we prioritizing for the ecological needs of salmon first, or are we prioritizing for places where WSDOT is already doing work?” said Helsley, from the Wild Salmon Center. “Why not say, OK, here are the top, highest priority culverts … and go tackle those ones, because that is what the fish need now? That’s not what Washington does.”

Since Martinez issued his injunction, the state knocked off the most cost-effective projects first before turning to increasingly complex ones: those requiring the construction of multiple bridges, relocating onramps and offramps, and extra engineering to deal with poor soil conditions. Some are in dense urban areas. One in Port Angeles might require the state to buy a hotel to secure property rights.

Costs have skyrocketed in recent years as crews are stretched thin amid a nationwide surge in transportation construction. All this leads to the astonishing run-up in costs to get the last 10% of habitat.

“As you go down the list, you’re getting less and less habitat,” said Rydholm, the WSDOT manager.

Missed connections

Last year, Christian Berg, who evaluates the city of Bainbridge Island’s culverts, was working on a grant application for a key salmon stream while WSDOT replaced a culvert for $13 million on the other side of the island.

The project brought traffic to a standstill on Highway 305, the island’s main artery. Drivers could see dozens of mature trees’ upturned roots, some as wide as a semitruck, ripped out to make way for a new bridge and to remove the culvert that had been deemed nearly impassable for salmon.

Months after WSDOT began construction, Berg said he wasn’t sure if the state had reached out to the city about that creek — or the city-owned culvert just 200 yards downstream. That culvert lets some fish pass but blocks others, depending on the creek’s flow level, according to a city report.

“It wouldn’t have been our top choice islandwide where we’re trying to restore fish passibility,” Berg said of the WSDOT project site. “I’ve been curious myself about how they picked that stream.”

Across Western Washington the same conundrum plays out: The WSDOT projects are being built on streams that may or may not make sense for the local groups engaged in salmon restoration. In the 11 years since Martinez’s order, WSDOT has primarily acted alone.

Millar, the state Transportation secretary, said the agency is doing its best to work with other groups but acknowledged it may have missed opportunities.

“Collaboration is a priority for the DOT, but our role is not to be responsible for restoring all of the habitat in the Pacific Northwest. We are a partner in that,” he said. “When you’re addressing 430-plus barriers and a multibillion-dollar program all over Puget Sound, on both sides, are we going to miss something? Absolutely.”

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife has identified more than 17,000 fish-blocking culverts across the state, the vast majority of them not owned by WSDOT. Private parties, such as railroads and homeowners, are responsible for the largest number, followed by county governments. Local governments are potential targets of future litigation by tribes enforcing their treaty fishing rights.

At Sunset Creek in Bellevue, the city has considered fixing the section upstream of the WSDOT culvert — the barrier requiring the 5-foot leap. But so far, the city project hasn’t ranked high enough for funding in its capital budget, Bellevue Utilities Planning Manager Eric LaFrance said.

The disconnect between WSDOT and projects prioritized by cities and counties is due to a lack of coordination by the Inslee administration. As WSDOT spends billions fixing its culverts, an alphabet soup of state agencies is also distributing more than $25 million a year for locally owned fish-blocking barriers, but the state is not ensuring a portion of those projects are even in the same watersheds.

In 2020, the Legislature called on departments within the administration to fix that disconnect with a statewide strategy. After four years, including a delay during the pandemic, they’re still working on it and expect to finish a draft by the end of this year, said Jameson, the fish passage manager.

Inslee said the state can’t always fix other habitat problems on the streams where WSDOT is working.

“I think most of the, quote, ‘misprioritizations’ are the result of two things: one, people refusing to accept the fact that we’re stuck with the federal decision, and two, a lack of recognition that we don’t have infinite resources,” Inslee said.

The federal government has also steered more than $1 billion to state and local governments, tribes and nonprofits around the country for removing fish barriers in the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

But because the state’s longdelayed strategic plan wasn’t ready, it has been a scattershot of applications from Washington cities, counties and others. In the first round of a major grant program, 23 projects were funded in Washington, but onlyonewastiedtoaWSDOTproject — missing an opportunity to fix barriersupstreamanddownstream of the big state investments.

“It’s a bit frustrating when, on the federal side, we have a once-in-ageneration opportunity,” Helsley from the Wild Salmon Center said. “Yet when that funding hit the ground, we weren’t ready.”

‘Unbelievably expensive’

Doug MacDonald, who was the head of WSDOT until his retirement in 2007, has watched with increasing frustration as the department implements the federal injunction. He sees rigid compliance with the court order — without considering if the work is actually recovering salmon.

Construction companies and consultants are getting hundreds of millions of dollars of work, as politicians hail culvert projects throughout Western Washington.

“The only thing that’s not being asked is, ‘Where are the fish?’” MacDonald said. “The injunction is not inscribed on a tablet. It’s just the beginning of the story.”

The parties in the case — the state and the tribes — could come together to negotiate changes that could make the state spending more effective. Indeed, during appeals, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer asked what would happen if the state found it would be “unbelievably expensive” to replace five culverts that “would really save only three fish.”

A tribal lawyer told the court that the state could ask Martinez to modify the terms of the injunction. That hasn’t happened — yet.
Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in

#1063685 - 03/26/24 06:52 AM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: eyeFISH]
Krijack Offline
Three Time Spawner

Registered: 06/03/06
Posts: 1515
Loc: Tacoma
I wonder, if later on, the states could revisit the decision, saying the work was not done in the "spirit" of the ruling. If the intent of the ruling was to increase salmon, and the repairs were not done to make that happen, does falling the wording but not the intent of the original order meet the requirements? The way the state does things, they could spend billions only to have the court tell them they have to start over or spend billions more.

#1063686 - 03/26/24 09:52 AM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: eyeFISH]
Carcassman Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 11/21/07
Posts: 7440
Loc: Olema,California,Planet Earth
I think that the state and tribes hammered out the agreement which the judge then ordered.

#1063690 - 03/27/24 10:58 AM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: Carcassman]
Rivrguy Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 4398
Loc: Somewhere on the planet,I hope
Ed brings up some good points and avoids others. Over harvest plays a rather substantial role and with Steelhead the tribal nets are a major issue. Salmon it is everyone killing to many fish and Alaska and BC are just killing us on Chinook on the coast. Steelhead just cannot take the harvest levels that have been applied.

Walk with Billy Frank Jr. and warrior up for salmon

Ed Johnstone Chairman

Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

Billy Frank Jr. walked on almost 10 years ago, but one of his most powerful lessons lives on — If we want to recover salmon, we must work together. All of us.

The Billy Frank Jr. Salmon Coalition embodies this. It was formed after the former NWIFC chairman’s passing by a group of leaders from all sides of the salmon recovery effort because nobody wants to imagine a world without salmon. The coalition recently launched a campaign inviting every Washingtonian to join them in becoming a Salmon Warrior.

Five first steps are outlined on SalmonWarriors. org: 1) Commit to one waterway; 2) Understand your impact on the environment; 3) Buy local, eat local; 4) Activate your voice; and 5) Get to know the Salish Sea.

In short, be part of the solution.

Treaty tribes are asking our federal, state and local partners to do the same. Collaborate with us to develop and implement more effective watershed recovery plans for the benefit of all species that depend on a thriving ecosystem.

NWIFC recently updated its riparian management policy statement to intensify the call to align government programs, regulatory authorities and legislation that protect and restore riparian habitat. Every effort must use the best available science — confirmed by affected tribes in each watershed — and comply with water quality standards.

We already know that salmon can’t survive without cool, clean water, and that human development has led to high water temperatures, low dissolved oxygen, insufficient nutrients and increased water pollution. It’s up to all of us to act purposefully, quickly and together to reverse that trend.

Billy said it years ago: We are running out of time.

We need to do more. We know that salmon recovery depends on better protection and restoration of riparian areas with buffers as wide as the tallest possible tree in the area. Best available science has shown us that this sitepotential tree height is needed to provide shade from the sun, filter runoff and increase climate resilience. Unfortunately, not all riparian habitat is protected under existing conservation and recovery plans. Laws such as the Growth Management Act try, at best, to balance development with conservation by trading environmental impacts in one place with restoration somewhere else.

We had an opportunity to make a change a couple of years ago with the Lorraine Loomis Act, but it failed to move through the state Legislature. Named for another former

NWIFC chair, that bill would have provided financial assistance to help landowners comply with the law and a regulatory backstop for those unwilling to comply.

Without legislation in place, we’re counting on federal and state agencies to work with us to eliminate the statutory and regulatory barriers that slow down riparian restoration project permitting, funding and implementation.

Maintaining vegetated buffers requires a longterm commitment that should be supported with additional funding and increased capacity for regulatory programs. Our state and federal partners can help by providing incentives, flexibility and regulatory certainty to landowners who wish to improve their water-adjacent property with riparian buffers.

In addition, the state departments of Ecology and Fish and Wildlife must control and prevent nonpoint source pollution and habitat destruction. They have a responsibility to exercise their authority to require best management practices to meet water quality standards for temperature, dissolved oxygen, sediment transport, pathogens, toxics and other habitat impairments.

We already know that recovering salmon isn’t easy, but extinction is not an option. Nobody wants a world without salmon, where the only place we can see them is in a museum. We all have a duty to protect the salmon. To work together. To become Salmon Warriors.

Being Frank is a column by Chairman Ed Johnstone of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. As a statement from the NWIFC chairman, the column represents the natural resources management concerns of the treaty tribes in Western Washington. Johnstone is a member of the Quinault Indian Nation.
Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in

#1063691 - 03/27/24 11:35 AM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: eyeFISH]
5 * General Evo Offline
Lord of the Chums

Registered: 03/29/14
Posts: 6759
if no one wants a world without salmon, stop exploiting them for profit...

sport fishers certainly arent...

#1063692 - 03/27/24 01:03 PM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: 5 * General Evo]
seabeckraised Offline
Juvenile at Sea

Registered: 05/12/21
Posts: 233
Loc: Mason County
The excessive number of guides on certain rivers definitely isn’t helping. Not talking the Cowlitz, Skagit, Hoh, or maybe others; but when you’ve got a dozen guides hitting small rivers nearly 7 days a week, that’s a lot of molested fish, particularly in late March.

I’m not at all against guiding in general, but I think we’d all agree there are WAY more than some fisheries can handle.

They still kill FAR FAR FAR FAR FAR less fish than the nets though.

#1063702 - 03/28/24 03:57 PM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: seabeckraised]
Rivrguy Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 4398
Loc: Somewhere on the planet,I hope
NOF for Grays Harbor is at 6:00 PM tonight the 28th and it is ZOOM.
Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in

#1063706 - 03/28/24 07:09 PM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: Rivrguy]
seabeckraised Offline
Juvenile at Sea

Registered: 05/12/21
Posts: 233
Loc: Mason County
Always enjoy hearing your comments, Dave. Appreciate the hard-ball questions you raise.

#1063707 - 03/29/24 09:51 AM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: seabeckraised]
Rivrguy Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 4398
Loc: Somewhere on the planet,I hope
For me conservation is always first in line but when staff and WDFW Enforcement decide that adopted state policies are not correct and impose their own personal veiws on fishers that is a bridge to far. Someone has to speak out. Rec fishers are their own worse enemy as they will throw another Rec under the bus as long as they get their fishery. Sad but true.
Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in

#1063708 - 03/29/24 10:59 AM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: eyeFISH]
steely slammer Online   content
Three Time Spawner

Registered: 02/24/00
Posts: 1500
so what was said on zoom meeting? what the season look like?
Where Destroying Fishing in Washington..

mainly region 6

#1063709 - 03/29/24 02:03 PM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: steely slammer]
Rivrguy Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 4398
Loc: Somewhere on the planet,I hope

Go to the WDFW NOF website and three options are there.
Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in

#1063711 - 04/03/24 09:40 AM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: Rivrguy]
Rivrguy Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 4398
Loc: Somewhere on the planet,I hope

For those who are not on the Region 6 mailing list staff has sent out the harvest models for the threeoptions for the three 2024 salmon season options. The summary tab is the first to look at followed by the NT schedule. The tribal tab is helpful looking at QIN netting days scheduled.

Any question just ask and I will try to get the information to you.
Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in

#1063744 - 04/09/24 12:00 PM Re: FISHINGTHECHEHALIS.NET [Re: Rivrguy]
Rivrguy Offline
River Nutrients

Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 4398
Loc: Somewhere on the planet,I hope
Email from Region 6 Grays Harbor management's Mike Scharpf on data used in the 2024 Harvest model.

Good morning all,

Allen has a good eye and thanks for the review. I’ve looked through the model and see that week 42 harvest rate includes 2010 data, where the weekly harvest rate was about 15% that year. He is correct that 161 hatchery Chinook is way out of the expectation, sorry that didn’t catch my eye. I’ve updated the model to use the most recent three-year average for each week. The adjustment reduces the 2A/D hatchery Chinook number to 20. That seems like a much more realistic number. We will send out an updated model later today, as there is a QIN/State meeting at 9:30. I think we are close and hope to finalize things today, but there are still two more days. I’m looking forward to the meeting next Tuesday the 16th at 6pm.

If anyone sees anything else in the model that seems out of the ordinary, please let me know. Sorry I overlooked our hatchery Chinook&#128522;

Dazed and confused.............the fog is closing in

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