Aug 26

The Future “Quality of Life” in Clark County is Highly Dependent on Water

The water situation (quality and quantity) in western Oregon and Washington is changing for both groundwater and surface water supplies. We are drawing heavily on the storage aquifers. More water is being lost as storm runoff, instead of infiltrating back into the ground. Weather patterns appear to be changing also. THAT WHICH WE STILL HAVE, NEEDS TO BE MANAGED MUCH BETTER.

Impacts on water supply and flow affect many of our activities, how we live and the costs, regardless if they are public or private. An example of limited water supply and flow is the impact of low river flows in the summer when many types of water associated recreation occurs. The East Fork of the Lewis River is severely impacted by high water temperatures in the summer and poor floating and fishing conditions. This is caused by very low flows in a river that has become wide and shallow due to the impacts of “people activities” over time.

As part of a river and watershed protection and improvement program, over 22 million dollars has been spent directly on the East Fork. These funds came from federal, state, county, and private sources. This is just a start and much more is needed and needs to be done more effectively.

A recent example of steps taken to protect newly hatched salmon and steelhead (fry) from high summer temperatures is the very successful fry and juvenile salmon protection 400ft long side-channel in Daybreak Park just below Daybreak Bridge on the south side of the river.

Steps taken to protect newly hatched salmon and steelhead
The project is the result of cooperation between state agencies, Clark County, Fish First and Friends of the East Fork.

The new specially designed side-channel is a source of 57 degree groundwater inflow (15 degrees cooler than the river) that provides cool water to the river as well as the side channel. When summer flows in a river exceed 76 degrees, fish become stressed. Adult fish as well as fry and juveniles will die when temperatures of 78 to 80 degrees or higher are reached for multiple days. In recent years temperatures of 80 degrees have been reached for over 4 days, resulting in sever impacts to the life cycle of salmon and steelhead populations as well as other life forms in the river.

To improve fry survival, in addition to adding logs under the channel surface, a group of injured military veterans added Christmas trees to the channel. Those trees without their needles, provide an exceptionally high density of cover and predator protection for the 300 or more salmon fry now occupying the side-channel as a safe place for rearing and protection from high summer temperatures.

Salmon fry using Christmas tree cover
Salmon Fry Using Christmas Tree Cover

A number of volunteers worked with Fish First and Friends of the East Fork to install the West Daybreak Side-channel and it is this kind of sustained help as well as from organization members that will help improve the long-term water situation in Clark County and all the other values associated with water.

May 19

BOCC Public Hearing June 3rd at 6 pm

The Clark County Board of Commissioners will make a final decision re: Surface Mining Overlay.

It is critical that we mobilize as many people as possible to attend this hearing, as large turnouts have made an important difference with the decisions made thus far. Please encourage your friends and neighbors to join us once again!

While waiting for the BOCC to set a date for their hearing, CALM put together a document to declare our position in regards to the Surface Mining Overlay and to help clarify the needs of citizens affected by mining in Clark County. To read this memorandum click here.

We look forward to seeing you. The Board of County Commissioners will have Surface Mining Overlay as a topic at their Hearing to be held on Tuesday, June 3 at 6:00 p.m. at the Public Service Center at 1300 Franklin St., Vancouver, WA, 6th Floor.

The Board of County Commissioners will have Surface Mining Overlay as a topic at their Hearing to be held on Tuesday, June 3 at 6:00 p.m. at the Public Service Center at 1300 Franklin St., Vancouver, WA, 6th Floor.

The link to the Board’s calendar is here.

Information on the history of the project, documents and maps, and a link to the Planning Commission’s recommendations are all available at the link here.

The former Project Manager for this project has retired and questions can be directed to Oliver Orjiako, Director of Community Planning.

Comments for the record of the BOCC Hearing can be mailed to the BOCC office, Attn: Clerk of the Board, Rebecca Tilton, P.O. Box 9810, Vancouver WA 98666, or to submit comments electronically to the BOCC, you can use this link.

The link to the Board’s grid is here.

Information for the hearing is not yet uploaded and any new information will be available the Thursday before the Hearing (May 29).

Apr 15

Joint Public Meeting April 17th: Surface Mining Overlay

The Clark County Board of Commissioners and the Clark County Planning Commission will hold a joint public meeting:

Thursday, April 17, 2014 at 6:30 p.m.

Public Service Center Building, 1300 Franklin Street, Vancouver, WA

The purpose of this meeting will be to discuss the proposed designation of Surface Mining Overlay (SMO) as recommended by the Clark County Planning Commission, and for the Board and the Planning Commission to have a conversation about the future of Mineral Resource Lands (MRL) in Clark County.

Although there will be no public testimony taken from the public, we are encouraging everyone to attend to show our continued investment in our desired outcome. We will be handing out CALM stickers at the door so you can show the Commissioners that we are all still watching and interested!

Please come and show your continued support!

Citizens’ Alliance for Livingston Mountain
 

MORE INFORMATION

BOCC Work session with the Planning Commission on Surface Mining Overlay – Thursday 4/17 at 6:30 p.m.

The Clark County Board of Commissioners is having a work session with the Planning Commission to discuss the Surface Mining Overlay recommendations on:

This is a work session for discussion and Q&A between the Board and the Planning Commission. No testimony will be taken at this meeting.

Information that will be reviewed at the work session on 4/17 can be found on the Planning Commission webpage at: www.clark.wa.gov/planning/PCmeetings.html

All updates on meetings and materials for the Surface Mining Overlay public events will continue to be posted at: www.clark.wa.gov/planning/mining/index.html

Mar 13

East Fork to Become Steelhead Sanctuary

Three tributaries of Columbia River designated wild steelhead gene banks

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) today designated three tributaries of the lower Columbia River as “wild steelhead gene banks,” where it will no longer release steelhead raised in fish hatcheries.

Starting this year, WDFW will no longer plant hatchery steelhead in the East Fork Lewis River or the North Fork Toutle/Green River. The Wind River, which has not been stocked with steelhead since 1997, will also be off-limits to any future releases.

As part of that plan, WDFW will redirect more than 50,000 hatchery smolts previously slated for the East Fork Lewis River into the Washougal River and Salmon Creek, and is working to place another 25,000 smolts previously earmarked for the North Fork Toutle/Green River.

Director Phil Anderson said those actions are part of a statewide effort to help conserve and restore wild steelhead, particularly those listed for protection under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA). All three watersheds designated as gene banks today support wild steelhead listed as threatened since 1998.

“We are building a future where wild steelhead – our state fish – can be enjoyed as part of the natural heritage of our state,” Anderson said. “We will continue to support fisheries with hatchery production in selected areas of southwest Washington, while ensuring that wild fish can be given the best opportunity possible to rebuild and flourish in the future.”

Studies have shown that hatchery fish can compete with wild steelhead for spawning partners, and that interbreeding can reduce survival rates for wild steelhead, Anderson said.

WDFW first identified wild steelhead gene banks as a recovery strategy in the Statewide Steelhead Management Plan, adopted by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in 2008. The department designated the Sol Duc River on the Olympic Peninsula as the state’s first official wild steelhead gene bank in 2012.

Cindy LeFleur, WDFW regional fish manager, said the department’s selection of the three gene banks in the lower Columbia River Basin was based on criteria outlined in the statewide plan and public input received over the past two years. Three local advisory groups appointed by WDFW issued recommendations for specific areas, drawing hundreds of public comments – pro and con – at public meetings and in messages to the department.

“A key requirement for wild steelhead gene banks is that they have a self-sustaining wild steelhead population,” LeFleur said. “The goal is to protect those primary populations and allow them to propagate with minimal interference from hatchery fish.”

To support that effort, WDFW plans to open fishing seasons in the new wild steelhead zones targeting hatchery fish, which will continue to return to those rivers for at least two more years, LeFleur said. Catch-and-release fishing for wild steelhead may also be allowed in later years.

Meanwhile, WDFW will continue to support fishing opportunities in other local rivers, LeFleur said. Those rivers include the mainstem Toutle, South Fork Toutle, Cowlitz, Kalama, Salmon, Washougal, and mainstem and North Fork Lewis rivers.

Jim Scott, assistant director of WDFW’s Fish Program, said the department will forward its final decisions on the gene banks to NOAA-Fisheries, the federal agency that oversees salmon and steelhead recovery in southwest Washington.

“NOAA-Fisheries has strongly supported our efforts to create these new wild steelhead zones, and we’ve communicated frequently throughout the process,” he said.

Scott noted that WDFW plans to create more wild steelhead gene banks throughout the state in the years ahead.

“During the next six months, we will be focusing on establishing wild steelhead gene banks for Puget Sound and lower Columbia tributaries below the Cowlitz River,” Scott said. “As with the plan announced today, our goal will be to continue to make those fish available for area fisheries where doing so is consistent with our steelhead conservation goals.”

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