February 3rd, 2017 by Scott Steltzner Comments Off on 2016 South Sound Science Symposium Presentations Now Online
The 2016 South Sound Science Symposium http://southsoundscience.org/ was held at the Little Creek Event Center on September 20th. There were over 450 attendees making 2016 the largest event yet for South Sound.
Nisqually Community Forest – process, analysis of ownership, how it can be used as a salmon recovery tool
Active tectonics in South Puget Sound
Landslides, Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Volcanic Eruptions: They all happen in Washington. Why? What does it cost? What can we do?
Sea level rise, Budd Inlet
Shoreline armoring data
An updated groundwater model for regional planning – Chambers-Clover Creek Watershed, Pierce County
Modeling trophic interactions in South Sound
Beach spawning, forage fish monitoring
LOTT’s Reclaimed Water Study: What we have learned so far about residual chemicals in our local waters
New science documenting toxic impacts on salmon and other aquatic species
Exploring drivers of fecal coliform pollution trends in South Puget Sound
Nisqually Community Forest VELMA modeling
In addition to the speakers there were 23 poster presentations.
June 29th, 2016 by Scott Steltzner Comments Off on Shelton Harbor Restoration
We are pleased to announce the kickoff of a project designed to restore the Goldsborough and Shelton Creek estuaries in Shelton Harbor. When complete the project area and other high quality habitat in the harbor will be placed into permanent protection.
Conceptual design for the completed project.
The overall project involves-
Landowners: Simpson Lumber, Sierra Pacific Industries and the Port of Shelton.
Partners: South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group, Mason Conservation District, Capitol Land Trust and the Squaxin Island Tribe.
Funding obtained to date has been provided by the Washington Department of Ecology National Coastal Wetlands Conservation Grant Program (information here) and the Salmon Recovery Funding Board (SRFB, information here). Significantly, all of the Lead Entities present in South Puget Sound contributed to the project enabling the SRFB to increase the amount of money available.
The project is large in scope and when complete will:
remove 811 creosote pilings
remove 1/2 mile of armored shoreline
remove 1/4 mile of inter-tidal dikes
restore 47 acres of saltmarsh
restore 1/2 mile of shoreline riparian
conserve 51 acres of tidelands and over 14 acres of riparian upland
The partners are currently in the permitting phase and anticipate construction to begin in the summer of 2017. To keep informed of the project status we have created a website sheltonharbor.org. Check in regularly for updates.
June 2nd, 2016 by Joseph Peters Comments Off on Kindergarteners Burfoot Park Field Trip, Puget Sound Sea Life, Scuba Divers too!
It’s that time of year when classrooms take a day to go on an end of the year field trip, somewhere fun, but somewhere educational. On Tuesday May 24th, Griffin School and Olympia Regional Learning Academy (ORLA) kindergarten classes planned a trip to Burfoot Park along Budd Inlet, where they were greeted by Squaxin Island Tribe Natural Resources staff in scuba gear and two wading pools full of sea life. “It’s always fun to do this for the students. To see the excitement in these young learners faces when we come to shore in all our scuba gear is priceless,” says Joseph Peters, Natural Resources Policy Representative for Squaxin Island Tribe.
This is the second year that Griffin School kindergarten classes have coordinated with Squaxin Island Tribe Natural Resources to have a “touch tank” of sea life for the class to learn about. It was great that we could extend this to be a full day event so ORLA could participate in all the fun. The hope is that we can make an impression on these young students about the importance of the Puget Sound and the life it contains.
Joe Peters and Scott Steltzner of Squaxin Island Tribe Natural Resources answer questions about Puget Sound sea life.
“Watching them interact with the sea stars, crabs, moon snails, and other sea creatures is amazing. We like to keep our eye on those kindergarteners that stay around the touch tank the longest. Those kids are our future marine biologist or scientists”, boast Peters. There are plans to do this again next year with Griffin and ORLA. Squaxin Island Tribe Natural Resources does a number of educational outreach activities throughout the year. Over three days in late April the Tribe and Shelton School District conducted the First Grade Field Experience. First graders from Evergreen, Mountain View, and Bordeaux Elementary visited Arcadia Point where Squaxin Island Tribe set up three exploration stations and traditional story telling station. Explorations stations included touch tank, watershed demonstration, and scavenger hunt.
Candace Penn, Joe Peters, & Scott Steltzner of Squaxin Island Tribe Natural Resources discuss Puget Sound sea life with Kindergarteners.
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February 16th, 2016 by Joseph Peters Comments Off on Even more bad news coming for South Puget Sound salmon returns
This year’s forecasts for coho coming back to the deep South Sound show the lasting impact of poor marine survival caused by the recent Pacific Blob, a large area of warm ocean water. For example, this coming year, only 1,800 coho that originated from the Squaxin Island Tribal net pens program are expected to return.
Usually over 25,000 Squaxin net pen coho return yearly from 1.8 million released. Historically, the net pen program’s survival has been as high as 3 percent in recent decades, but has dipped down to 1.1 percent the last few years. This year, the fish produced by the program will likely only have a 0.117 percent survival rate.
“When young salmon come out to sea and the water is warm, they need more food to keep their metabolic rate up, yet there is less available food and they have to work harder,” said Elizabeth Daly, an Oregon State senior faculty research assistant with the Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies, a joint program of OSU and NOAA.
“Our long-term data set contradicts the long-held assumption that salmon eat less during warm-water regimes,” Daly added. “They actually eat more. But they still don’t fare as well. When the water is warm, salmon are smaller and thinner.”
During the last two years, an unusually large, warm body of water has settled into the ocean off the Pacific Northwest that scientists have dubbed “The Blob,” which is forecast to be followed this winter by a fairly strong El Niño event. Though recent spring Chinook salmon runs have been strong due to cooler ocean conditions in 2012-13, the impact of this long stretch of warm water on juvenile fish may bode poorly for future runs.
“So far this year, we’ve seen a lot of juvenile salmon with empty stomachs,” Daly said. “The pressure to find food is going to be great. Of those fish that did have food in their stomachs, there was an unusual amount of juvenile rockfish and no signs of Pacific sand lance or krill.
“Not only does this warm water make it more difficult for the salmon to find food, it increases the risk of their own predation as they spend more time eating and less time avoiding predators,” she added.
El Niño is generally a warming of the Pacific Ocean that will likely last at least through this spring.
Last year’s returns of pink and coho salmon showed the devastating impacts bad marine survival can have on fisheries. Squaxin tribal fishers spent several frustrating weeks last fall landing fewer coho that were undersized as well.
Many of the fish we caught were about half the size of the fish we usually see. This was hard on our fishermen because for the same effort, their landings had much less value.
Poor marine survival threatens the return of hatchery fish too, and will continue to hurt the tribe’s fishing-based economy and local sport fisheries. The Squaxin net pens program releases 1.8 million coho each year. When these fish returning as adults, they contribute to both sports fisheries through out Puget sound as well as tribal fisheries.
This decline in coho is devastating for both tribal and state-managed fisheries.
Comments Off on Even more bad news coming for South Puget Sound salmon returnsTags:netpens · Salmon
November 20th, 2015 by Scott Steltzner Comments Off on Collier Boat Ramp and Jetty Restoration
The Squaxin Island Tribe, working with our partner the South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group http://spsseg.org/, recently completed a project to remove a boat ramp and large concrete structure that had been used as a boat basin.
Both of these structures blocked the natural movement of sediment down the beach. Why is this important? This beach materiel is used by sand lance and surf smelt to lay their eggs. These, and other fish, are called Forage Fish because they provide a critically important food base for salmon and other creatures in Puget Sound. Blocking natural sediment movement causes the beach to cut down decreasing the available space for forage fish to spawn.
Before: Boat ramp with marine railway. The concrete blocks sediment from moving as shown by the elevation difference on either side.
Before: Boat basin that had been used as a “dry dock” by the previous owner. This structure blocked sediment from moving down the beach.
The energy generated from waves breaking along the beach at an angle moves sand and sediment along the shoreline. We call areas where this happens over long stretches of beach Drift Cells as the sediment tends to drift or move in one direction. Structures located on the beach can block this sediment movement causing the beach to pile up on one side and down cut on the other.
In the early 2000’s the Tribe initiated a project to identify and rate beach sediment sources within Totten Inlet. The drift cell along the project area was found to be one of the longest in all of South Sound. This drift cell was rated as having a good sediment supply, called feeder bluffs as they feed sediment to the drift cells, and was found to be in generally good shape. Three structures were identified that blocked sediment movement down the beach. The first of these, the Arcadia Point boat launch, was fixed in 2011 when a solid concrete ramp was replaced with one that had channels that allow sediment to flow through.
Arcadia Point Boat Launch. Sediment channels are placed between concrete planks allowing sediment to flow through from left to right.
The other two structures were the Collier boat ramp and jetty. Sediment can now move unimpeded on this over five mile long drift cell.
After: The boat basin has been removed. Sediment can now flow down the beach unimpeded.
You can watch a YouTube video showing the construction project here:
August 20th, 2015 by Candace Penn Comments Off on A Walk Down Squaxin Islands Climate Change Road
Some of you might be wondering what we as a tribe are doing about climate change? How is Climate Change effecting our first foods like shellfish, salmon, and harvestable plants? As the Climate Change Ecologist Trainee for the Tribe these are things I think about quite often. I have collected various graphs, charts,and images that I hope will resonate with you about what climate change is and how first nations are being affected. You will see two Links below, The first is a short video about indigenous people and climate change. I have also attached a presentation that I presented to our tribal council and I felt as though I left them wanting more information about Climate Change here in the Pacific Northwest. I hope you as well are left wanting more information, I would be happy to email anyone more links and media that illustrate issues related to climate change or just sit down and talk about Climate Change. Stay tuned for my next exciting post about Ocean Acidification!
July 28th, 2015 by Scott Steltzner Comments Off on Each dock counts towards hurting salmon
How much progress are we really making in restoring Puget Sound?
On one hand, community partners get together with us here at the tribe and at local governments to push forward a few habitat restoration projects a year. At the very most.
But, on the other end, dozens and dozens of shoreline development projects seem to sail through the local permitting process. Each of these projects is small on its own (a new bulkhead there, a dock here), so no one is bound to complain.
But, these tiny projects all put together are having a massive impact on Puget Sound, and its ability to produce salmon.
Nearshore habitat provides a critical nursery for juvenile salmon as they prepare to make their seaward migration, and also serves as migration corridors for returning adult salmon.
Here’s the short course on how these tiny developments can add up:
One way things like bulkheads and docks damage the environment is by disconnecting land and marine ecosystems. This disconnection prevents things like logs and bugs from entering and moving along the water, which ultimately alters the food chain and eliminates important habitat.
Another impact from shoreline modification is that it affects currents, which change where and how much sand is deposited. This in turn harms habitat of forage fish and invertebrates that are an important source of food for young and returning adult salmon.
But, I see dozens of these projects go through, with no mind paid to what the total impact of all the projects ever permitted is having.
Every letter we receive from Pierce County about yet another bulkhead or dock somewhere in Puget Sound includes language like this:
What does that mean in everyday language?
The County insists that this dock (or bulkhead on its own) isn’t a problem. But, they’re not going to actually look at its individual impact. Also they are not going to look at cumulative impacts to find out if this is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Or, in this case, Puget Sound’s back.
And, what does that look like on the ground?
Here’s a visualization of Horsehead Bay (you can see a larger version here), which in its natural state would be great rearing habitat for juvenile salmon. But, when you add a few dozen docks, the value to salmon plummets.
Comments Off on Each dock counts towards hurting salmonTags:habitat · Salmon