• Weekender Report: Enjoy Valentine’s Day together fishing for salmon, watching elk

    Temperatures are warming, birds are singing and spring chinook salmon are starting to move into the lower Columbia River.

    Spring is still a ways off, but February offers plenty of opportunities to enjoy the outdoors with a friend or loved one – maybe even on Valentine’s Day.

    “I suggest that couples looking for a uniquely Northwest experience head to the San Juan Islands for blackmouth salmon,” said Steve Thiesfeld, Puget Sound salmon manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “Fishing, antique shops, nice restaurants – there’s something for everyone.”   

    Not that couples can’t find other great get-aways in other parts of the state. While the bulk of the spring chinook run usually doesn’t arrive until March, opportunities abound to enjoy the outdoors right through the month of February. Options include:

    • Counting birds: The Great Backyard Bird Count runs Feb. 18-21 throughout North America, where birders of all levels are invited to record the birds they see in a 15-minute period. Participants can conduct their count anywhere they choose – including their own backyards – for the annual survey. 
    • Catching steelhead:   Starting Feb. 16, anglers can catch and keep one wild steelhead for the license year on eight rivers on the Olympic Peninsula – the only rivers in the state where retention of wild steelhead is allowed. Meanwhile, anglers continue to catch hatchery-reared steelhead on the Columbia River and its tributaries.
    • Digging razor clams: If marine-toxin results are favorable, Twin Harbors beach will open for razor-clam digging Feb. 17-19 and four other ocean beaches will open Feb. 18-19. Watch the WDFW website for confirmation that the dig has been approved.
    • Fishing Lake Roosevelt: Anglers are reeling in kokanee, walleye, burbot and rainbow trout from the big impoundment in northeast Washington.
    • Jigging for squid: Winter is prime time to fish for squid in Puget Sound. Good spots include the Elliott Bay Pier in Seattle and the Edmonds Pier.
    • Watching elk and bighorn sheep: WDFW’s winter-feeding program is in full swing at the Oak Creek Wildlife Area 15 miles northwest of Yakima. Watch hundreds of hungry elk and bighorns gather to dine on alfalfa hay and pellets. 

    For more information about these and other fishing and wildlife viewing opportunities, see the regional reports below:


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  • Ecology Seeking Public Comment on Updates to State Shoreline Rules

    OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) is seeking public comment on a proposal to change five state Shoreline Management Act rules – including new guidance designed to address controversy surrounding commercial geoduck aquaculture in the intertidal, or shallower, areas of Puget Sound.

    “The proposed geoduck aquaculture rule simply makes permit processes consistent across all jurisdictions – hopefully creating a fair and equitable playing field for our state’s vital shellfish industry and shoreline residents,” said Gordon White, Program Manager for Ecology’s Shorelands and Environmental Assistance Program.

    White said the new draft geoduck aquaculture rule is based on a 2007 legislative mandate directing Ecology to provide guidance to local governments on addressing commercial geoduck aquaculture in their shoreline master programs.

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    ABERDEEN, Wash. – A team of teachers from Stevens Elementary School in Aberdeen learned Tuesday, March 2, that they have won $10,000 from the Qwest Foundation Teachers and Technology Grant Program. 
    The team from Stevens School includes fourth-grade teachers Martha Lennier and Sara Schultz, fifth-grade teacher Sheryl Woodruff and sixth-grade teacher Dana Persson-Zora.
    Since 2007, the Qwest Foundation has funded nine awards each year, each worth $10,000, to effective teachers in Washington state who propose unique projects that integrate real-world technologies.
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  • Ecology penalties total $629,740 in the third quarter of 2009

    The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) issued $629,740 in penalties of $1,000 or more in the third quarter months (July, Aug. and Sept.) of 2009.
    Ecology issues individual news releases for penalties of $10,000 or greater, and links to the news release are included in the table. A particular penalty may be fully satisfied at this time or in the process of an appeal or settlement discussions.
    Ecology works with thousands of business and individuals to ensure compliance with laws written to protect Washington’s air, land and water resources. Penalties are issued in cases where non-compliance continues after Ecology has provided technical assistance or warnings, or for particularly serious violations.
    The money owed from penalties may be reduced from the issued amount due to a ruling by the Pollution Control Hearings Board or a negotiated settlement. Ecology doesn’t benefit from penalty payments. The final penalty amount owed and collected is deposited in special accounts that pay for:
    • Environmental restoration and enhancement projects.
    • Research and development.
    • Permitting and regulatory programs.
    • Education and assistance.
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  • WSDOT Stimulus News of the Week

    WSDOT advertised a Spokane area highway project using surplus funds from low bids on stimulus projects. Contractors broke ground on the I-5 HOV lane expansion in Pierce County as construction began on the state’s largest Recovery Act highway project to date. Prime contractors for state highway Recovery Act projects have exceeded the goals for Disadvantaged Business Enterprise participation to date and three projects have been awarded to DBEs as prime contractors. WSDOT applied for a Recovery Act-funded energy grant and is preparing grant applications for high speed passenger rail projects.

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  • Brace for winter and enjoy Wasington Wildlife

    For Washingtonians, the start of the new year is prime time to fish for winter steelhead, dig razor clams and enjoy the annual spectacle of bald eagles, snow geese, elk and other wintering wildlife.


    Other possibilities include sturgeon fishing, which opens Jan.1 from the mouth of the Columbia River to McNary Dam, and hunting for ducks and geese during seasons that run through Jan. 30 in most areas of the state.


    But winter weather is an important consideration wherever you go. Ice fishing can be a dicey proposition in most parts of the state and heavy rains can render a river “unfishable” – even dangerous – virtually overnight.


    “Preparation is essential for any outdoor activity, especially in winter,” said Mike Cenci, deputy enforcement chief for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). “Check the weather conditions, river conditions and road conditions – and let people know where you’re going before you head out.”


    And, of course, wear warm, waterproof clothes. “We don’t get a lot of T-shirt weather in January,” Cenci said.



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  • Child Seat Belt Patrols Return to Grays Harbor County

    Grays Harbor County – From March 17 to March 23, extra grant-funded law enforcement patrols will be on the lookout for unrestrained or improperly restrained children in vehicles. The law enforcement officers who are participating in the emphasis patrols have been through intensive child passenger safety training, some of whom are certified car seat technicians.

    Participating in this first-ever effort to reduce child car seat violations and improve child passenger safety are the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office, and the Aberdeen, Montesano, Hoquiam and Elma Police Departments.

    These patrols are part of a pilot project focusing on child car seat violations in four counties throughout Washington State. The Grays Harbor Traffic Safety Task Force received an $83,500 grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission to conduct a pilot project to publicize Washington’s child car seat law and fund additional law enforcement patrols of the law.

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  • Brave fall weather to hunt elk, catch salmon or dig razor clams

    Big-game hunters are shifting their sights from deer to elk, while bird hunters look forward to new flights of ducks and geese.  Anglers, meanwhile, are reeling in an assortment of coho, chinook and chum salmon from waters around the state, and crab fishing is reopening in Nov. 1 in two areas of Puget Sound.

    Temperatures are dropping and more rain is in the forecast, but that is welcome news for many hunters around the state, said Don Don Kraege, waterfowl manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

    "Hunters did well during the first couple weeks of the season because the weather distributed the birds throughout the area," Kraege said. "There’s more blustery weather in the forecast, and that should continue to improve hunting prospects on both sides of the Cascades."

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  • WSDOT Completes 50th Project Funded by American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

    WSDOT and local governments have now completed 50 highway projects receiving American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. A ribbon cutting ceremony will celebrate the completion of two Recovery Act projects and one state-funded project in Moses Lake on October 22. Nationwide, over 8,000 highway projects are now approved for federal stimulus funding and nearly 4,700 are under way.

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