Millie Judge, keynote speaker

We’re recording Milly’s talk, but here are some quick notes. Just a reminder, you can watch the live-stream all day at this link:

From the talk:

  • Are some areas of improvement. There is more to be done and habitat is still the driver.
  • Forest cover continues to decline. Where development happens, habitat declines.
  • If we don’t get a handle on habitat, especially forest cover, we aren’t going to get to salmon restoration.
  • Despite the best shoreline regulations in the nation, we’re still seeing declines in shoreline habitat. This is true outside of shoreline protection.
  • Funding for salmon recovery projects is even too low. We’re hitting a ceiling. Only 31 percent of the funding we actually need. Its actually a $1 billion project.
  • Funders like funding projects, not people or capacity to “do the work.” You can’t develop projects without people to do the work. So the bottleneck in restoration is people, not project money.
  • The problem with the growth management act is that is always plans for growth. There’s never an “enough is enough” step that creates shortages and forces people to move elsewhere.
  • Scientists should keep on saying what’s going on. Its hard when the status quo is criticized. She was told that if she criticized funding, it would be cut off. She doesn’t buy that.
  • We need to do a better job influencing people who hold the purse strings.

From the Q&A:

1. Can we redirect litigation funds to restoration funds? The idea behind the growth management hearing board is that it wasn’t supposed to be a legal process. But, it turned out to be a legal process.

2. In response to a question about possibly cutting operational funding, Judge says that one of the major things we do is outreach to legislators.

3. Do you agree that legislators don’t want to hear science, as opposed to what impacts people in their districts? Yes, unless its a crisis, the lawmakers want to hear good stories. Hire wonks.

Squaxin Chinook and Coho Fishery Update

Fishing has been under way for the past few months, with what looks like a fair Chinook season and an above average coho season.  As of October 15th, our 88 licensed Tribal fishers have harvested 4,375 Chinook and 48,748 Coho.

Chinook and Coho Fish Management

This year the Budd Inlet Chinook fishery yielded 4,375 fish, below the ten-year average. Squaxin’s projected catch for Chinook is based on average catches from previous years, the predicted returning run-size to Tumwater Falls Hatchery, and the 3,500 Chinook escapement needed for the hatchery.  Escapement needs for the hatchery program were met this year. While other fisheries to the north harvest Deschutes fish, tribal and sport fisheries must contend with listed Chinook stocks of concern and are limited to a ceiling harvest rate.  Some tribes get only one to two days of fishing for their Chinook fisheries. Overall the run size was lower than expected and the Tribal fishery was down as well.

Squaxin coho catch is based on the previous year’s average harvest rates of net pen Coho. The harvest rate of Squaxin net pen Coho by Tribal fishers ranges from 94%-98%.  During the Coho fishery there are weekly in season update conference calls with the tribes and state to discuss regional catches and test fisheries from the straights and northern Salish Sea.  It is during these calls that an in-season update is made based on actual fishery results.    If a run size increases or decreases, the allocation of fish to tribes and the state change.

Squaxin Coho fisheries are unique in that the vast majority of the fish caught in 13D are net pen Coho with limited impacts on natural Coho due to the protected areas in the inlets.  By staying out of the inlets natural Coho have a better opportunity to escape into the creeks to spawn.  The Coho fishery through October 15th has harvested 48,748 Coho worth over $670,000. This is an above average outcome and suggests that there has been better ocean survival than previous years.


The results from this year’s fisheries will be used to plug back into fishery management decisions for next year. In the months of February through April, Squaxin Natural Resources takes part in the North of Falcon process, part of the Pacific Fishery Management Council.  This series of meetings gathers state, federal, and tribal fishery managers to plan Washington coastal, Strait of Juan de Fuca, and Puget Sound recreational and commercial salmon fisheries. Tribal and State fisheries managers negotiate and agree on harvest impacts on forecasted returns, as well as scheduled fisheries.


Johns Creek conditions after the Powerline 2 fire

Joe Puhn, resource technician with the tribe, walks through the burn area near Johns Creek. View more photos here:

Earthfix has the news on the aftermath of the Powerline 2 fire on the Johns Creek watershed:

“The fire burned all the way down to the water,” says John Konovsky, environmental program manager for the Squaxin Island Tribe. “It’s in a steep ravine and you look up the hillside and all you see is all this ash, this blanket of ash. It looks like a snowstorm actually.”

There’s rain expected this weekend. That could be bad news for the tens of thousands of summer run chum salmon that are spawning in the creek right now.

Konovsky worries that the ash will irritate their gills and smother the eggs.

Powerline 2 Fire

The Powerline 2 Fire has burned the riparian buffer on the north side of Johns Creek and around the cold water tributary just upstream of the old hatchery.  Will investigate in the field this week and report back.