February 28, 2012 at 1:30 PM
The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe has signed a legally-binding agreement to hold off planting any non-native Chambers Creek hatchery fish in the Elwha River in 2012.
The tribe was on a course to plant the non-native steelhead in the Elwha as soon as April.
The agreement applies to the Elwha and its tributaries, and was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma. The interim agreement, signed with the Wild Fish Conservancy, The Conservation Angler, the Federation of Fly Fishers Steelhead Committee and the Wild Steelhead Coalition, grew out of a lawsuit filed by the four groups Feb. 9.
On the right: Hatchery-raised coho feed at the Elwha tribal fish hatchery near Port Angeles. The tribe has agreed to hold off on planting any non-native Chambers Creek steelhead from its hatchery in the Elwha River this year. Photo by Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times
The groups filed suit against federal agencies and officials at the tribe seeking to block releases of the fish into the Elwha, claiming the releases would violate the federal Endangered Species Act by harming wild steelhead, a threatened species.
The agreement, approved and signed by U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle, does not address the substance of that suit or the claims or assertions on the hatchery issue made by either side. The agreement also doesn’t speak to potential releases of non-native steelhead in the river in the future.
In return for the tribe’s commitment, the plaintiffs agreed to hold off on seeking a preliminary injunction in the suit in 2012.
February 27, 2012 at 12:59 PM
Well, it’s official. The baby otter at the Seattle Aquarium has been named Sekiu by popular vote. Here’s the announcement from our friends at KING-TV.
“SEKIU!” by a waterslide victory capturing nearly ½ of the more than 14,000 votes” out of five name choices, declares spokesman Tim Kunihom.
For those of you not in the know, it is pronounced SEE-Q. And, it’s a place. A lovely place, out on the Olympic Peninsula, best known for its sport fishing. Very appropriate for a northern sea otter.
My vote was Shi Shi for its lovely alliteration. Maybe next time!
February 27, 2012 at 7:00 AM
One more of these amazing before and after photos by Sequim photographer John Gussman, who is making a documentary about dam removal on the Elwha River. Anyone who has ever used the boat ramp on Lake Aldwell can appreciate this one.
The boat ramp on Lake Aldwell, before and after dam removal began. That’s the river in a shining ribbon, way off from the former shore, amid the acres of gray sediment. Photo by John Gussman
For more of his photography of the changing landscape of the Elwha Valley, have a look at his website.
For the big picture, check out the web cams on the Elwha dam deconstruction.
Meanwhile, if you want to get into the Elwha Valley on the Whiskey Bend Road, better hurry.
The National Park Service is closing the road again as of Tuesday for a month for more repairs. This road is the main access to the trail head leading to Krause Bottom and Hume’s Ranch and other popular destinations, including a beautiful bridge over the Grand Canyon of the Elwha.
The 4.5-mile road connects Olympic Hot Springs Road to the Whiskey Bend trailhead. It will close for “approximately” four weeks, according to the park service.
A portion of the road at milepost 1.7 will be removed and rebuilt and heavy trucks and machinery will be in use. It’s a full closure, by the way, even to pedestrian entry.
The park service has awarded the contract to Cherokee Construction of Vancouver, Washington to repair storm damage that occurred in early 2011. The contract amount is not to exceed $190,000; the final cost will be determined by how much work is needed to complete the repairs.
In January, the Whiskey Bend reopened to vehicles after a year-long
closure caused by extensive storm damage to the road.
February 24, 2012 at 9:00 AM
Orcas in J Pod are being darted with tags under research authorized by the federal fisheries service intended to shed light on the animals’ winter travels. The agency needs better information on where the animals go in part to delineate critical habitat needed for their recovery.
This Dec. 17, 2011, photo provided by NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center shows a new baby orca born to 39-year-old Slick, also known as J-16, in Puget Sound near Seattle. It’s her fifth calf since 1991 and it brings the total number of killer whales in the Southern Resident population to 89. (AP Photo/NOAA Northwest Fisheries Science Center, Candice Emmons)
Up to six members of the Southern Resident population of killer whales will be tagged this year under the research program — probably fewer, due to the difficulty of the operation and restriction on tagging only post-reproductive females and males.
The agency intends to tag up to two orcas in each of the three southern resident pods per year. The first tag was darted in to an adult male in J Pod on Monday in the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
The fisheries service in an announcement and question and answer press release stated one of the orcas in J Pod had already been tagged. The agency also posted a map of the path traveled by the tagged orca.
For more on the tagging operation, take a look at this story by the Seattle AP’s Phuong Le, who talked to researchers worried about injuries caused by the darts, and the possibility of infection.
The agency states that risks to the whales’ health, reproductive success and survival from tagging is so low as to be insignificant. The agency has tagged 250 cetaceans of 16 species during the past six years, so far without indication of serious injury, according to the agency. Marks from the dart are no worse than naturally occurring injuries, such as shark bites, the agency states.
February 23, 2012 at 9:00 AM
Mount Si and Little Si trailheads and trails will remain closed as investigators continue to look into a plane crash in the area last week. Snow has slowed the work, which continues this week.
On Feb. 15, a single-engine airplane crashed in the Mount Si Natural Resources Conservation Area (NRCA), which is managed by DNR and is a popular hiking destination in eastern King County.
Trails on Mount Si and Little Si will remain closed. Photo courtesy DNR.
Immediately after the crash, DNR closed access to the area to better help teams from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and other agencies conduct their investigation.
DNR will provide updates on the status of the Mount Si area on the agency’s web site.
To read about the crash, see our story in the Seattle Times.
February 21, 2012 at 11:00 AM
As dam removal continues on the Elwha River, the landscape above the dams is transforming dramatically. Already, large portions of the lake bed beneath Lake Aldwell are revealed. John Gussman, the photographer making a documentary film about the Elwha, sent me these photos over the weekend from his most recent trip to the Elwha. The before and after at Lake Aldwell is a shocker:
Photographer John Gussman shows the before and after at Lake Aldwell. Photos courtesy of John Gussman
To see more, take a look at these photographs on his website. To me some of the most amazing views are of the gigantic cedar stumps, from old growth giants cut a century ago when Elwha Dam was being built. The first thing to go, of course, were the trees.
The sediment terraces left behind as the water levels drop will be a major revegetation challenge, both for nature, and for crews actively re-planting the area.
The National Park Service blog also has some eye-opening photos. Work continues for two weeks at a time, then is paused for two weeks to let the river work back and forth across the sediment terraces to erode as much material downstream as possible. The goal is to leave a more natural — and stable — landscape behind as the river sluices the material out.
Here’s another amazing view: the now exposed spill gates at Glines Canyon Dam, left high and dry as Lake Mills drops:
The spill gates at Glines Canyon … with no water to spill. Photo from National Park Service blog
Meanwhile at Elwha Dam, there’s … practically no dam. Contractors have already removed nearly all of the landmark structures at the site. The powerhouse, the surge tank, the power lines. Have a look:
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SCREEN GRAB FROM PROJECT WEB CAM
For more on the dam removal project, including revegetation and sediment management, read our special report in the Seattle Times
February 16, 2012 at 9:00 AM
A new report by the U.S. Geological Survey shows the population of mountain goats in the Olympics — where they are not a native species — is growing.
The report just issued by the USGS shows goat populations are up to 344 animals in the Olympic Mountains, a 40 percent increase since the last count in 2004.
The helicopter survey was done in mid- to late July, in flights over the Olympic Mountains. Some peaks, such as Olympus, were found to be home to dozens of goats, while others had just as scattering.
This year’s count was regarded as more accurate, and the 40 percent increase it shows from the last count in 2004 was attributed to differences in survey methods — including counting goats in a larger area of the park. It was the first increase in population noted since the 1980s, when populations peaked.
At the current rate of growth, the goat population could double within about 15 years, according to the report.
February 13, 2012 at 10:00 AM
Valentine’s Day just happens to coincide with the first amorous stirrings in the amphibian world, as salamanders begin emerging from winter hibernation in search of mates.
A long-toed salamander graces the online pages of Wikipedia. These delicate beauties are among the salamanders of the Puget Sound lowlands just now awakening and on the move.
If you’d like to see some of these fabulous creatures for yourself, you are in luck. Naturalist Stewart Wechsler has scheduled two salamander outings this Valentine’s week. Both are for general-interest nature fans and no equipment other than a flashlight is needed. Kids are welcome.
The first program is on Valentine’s Night, from 6:30-8 p.m. Tuesday. The second is from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Saturday. For both, meet in front of the Camp Long Lodge building, on Southwest Dawson Street, just east of 35th Avenue Southwest in West Seattle. The Salamander Love Night adventures are priced from $1-$20, your choice, based on ability to pay.
If you like this sort of thing, the most beautiful book I have ever read on salamanders and all things wetlands is Swampwalker’s Journal, A Wetlands Year, by David M. Carroll (Mariner Books, 1999). Winner of the prestigious John Burroughs Medal for nature writing, Carroll in 2006 won a MacArthur Foundation “genius award” for his writing and illustrations, and for good reason. His accounts of watching spring come alive as he wades a series of woodland wetlands and ponds near his home in New Hampshire are pure poetry. His love of salamanders (and turtles) is most evident.
David Carroll’s ode to wetland creatures is one of my favorite books
February 6, 2012 at 7:00 AM
George Pess at NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle is one of the most experienced scientists at work on the Elwha River restoration effort — with more than a decade of field work under his belt leading baseline monitoring work on the river.
George Pess records data while doing baseline research on a floodplain channel of the Elwha River in spring, 2011. Lynda Mapes, photo
Pess will give a talk at 7 p.m. Feb. 13, free and open to the public, about the Elwha River recovery effort. Come hear about how fish are expected to respond to taking out the dams on the Elwha, and what changes scientists already are noticing.
Pess will talk at the Wilde Rover cafe in downtown Kirkland, at 111 Central Way. The talk is part of the Pacific Science Center’s series of Science Cafe lectures, bringing scientists face to face with the public to talk over big issues of the day in an informal atmosphere.
Meanwhile, for photos of some of the latest work on the river as the dams keep coming down, see the National Park Service blog.
The Elwha River above Elwha Dam, looking in this shot from the web cam Feb. 3 a lot more like … a river again.
To learn more about the Elwha restoration, see our special report in The Seattle Times.
Meanwhile, here’s some food for thought. Documentary film maker John Gussman emailed in this photo today shot from the same vantage point of the landscape above Glines Canyon dam. Look how much it has changed, from September 2010 to now:
Photo by John Gussman
February 2, 2012 at 3:04 PM
The Seattle Aquarium sent over this video just now of Aniak’s pup having her second check up. Born last month, she’s nearly doubled her weight already and is doing just fine
Here she is having her check up and a swim. She needs to be faster at eating treats though if she wants to beat her mother!
Video courtesy of Seattle Aquarium
Aniak gives her pup a ride on her belly on January 31
Selected Northwest animal webcams
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