Additional trout releases to focus on lakes in Seven Western Washington counties

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is stocking 47 western Washington lakes with 340,000 catchable-size trout this fall.

This is nearly four times more fish than were released last fall in western Washington.

WDFW is currently stocking lakes in Grays Harbor, Island, King, Pierce, Snohomish, Thurston, and Whatcom Counties.

Those lakes, which are scheduled to be stocked between Oct. 12-19, include:

  • Grays Harbor County: Vance Creek ponds 1 and 2;
  • Island County: Cranberry Lake;
  • King County: Angle, Bitter, Deep, Rattlesnake, Shadow, Green, Langlois, Walker, Holm, Fish, Fivemile and Fenwick lakes;
  • Pierce County: Harts, Kapowsin, Bonney and Bradley lakes;
  • Snohomish County: Tye Lake and Gissburg Pond North and South;
  • Thurston County: Long’s Pond, Offutt, Black, St. Clair, Lawrence, Long and Ohop Lakes; and
  • Whatcom County: Fazon Lake.

Other waters that were recently stocked include Island, Lost, Nahwatzel, and Spencer lakes in Mason County; Kitsap Lake in Kitsap County; Rattlesnake Lake in King County; Cascade Lake in San Juan County; and Gibbs, Leland and Teal lakes in Jefferson County.

Additional stocking efforts will focus on different lakes and counties in western Washington and will continue through October and November.

Bonus bag limits will also be allowed on some lakes, doubling angler’s catch limits from five to 10 trout.

A list of lakes to be stocked, those offering the bonus bag limit, and the department’s recently updated stocking plan is available for viewing at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/fall-into-fishing/.

Chris Donley, inland fish program manager, said he expects angling to be great throughout the fall and winter months at all of these lakes. “Most of the trout are 11 to 13 inches long, with a few larger ones in the mix,” he said.

The fall fish plants are in response to anglers’ requests to increase fall and winter trout fishing opportunities in western Washington, said Donley. That effort also includes stocking lakes in southwest Washington for the Nov. 28 Black Friday opener, which offers anglers the opportunity to skip the shopping malls, get outside and enjoy fishing on the day after Thanksgiving.

For those fishing closer to the Puget Sound area, there are thousands of trout available in lakes that can be pursued throughout fall and winter, said Donley. “We encourage anglers young and old, inexperienced or well-seasoned, to get out and take advantage of these great fisheries,” he added.

For up-to-date stocking information this fall, anglers should follow the department on Twitter or Facebook, accessible from http://wdfw.wa.gov, or see the department’s weekly catchable trout stocking report at http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/plants/weekly/.

Anglers must have a current Washington freshwater fishing license valid through March 31, 2015, to participate in these events.

Licenses can be purchased online at https://fishhunt.dfw.wa.gov; by telephone at 1-866-246-9453; or at hundreds of license vendors across the state. For details on license vendor locations, visit the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/licensing/vendors/.

WDFW Commission sets waterfowl seasons, discusses elk with hoof disease

With a record number of ducks counted on the northern breeding grounds this year, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approved migratory waterfowl hunting seasons for this fall and winter during a public meeting in Olympia Aug. 8-9.

The commission, a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), also approved a new regulation that requires hunters to leave on site the hooves of any elk taken in southwest Washington to help minimize the spread of a disease that affects the region’s herds.

Under the waterfowl hunting package, most hunting opportunities in Washington will be similar to last year. That includes a statewide duck season that will be open for 107 days, starting Oct. 11-15 and continuing Oct. 18-Jan. 25. A special youth hunting weekend also is scheduled Sept. 20-21.

Limits for mallard, pintail, scaup, redhead, goldeneye, harlequin, scoter and long-tailed duck will remain the same as last season. But the commission reduced the daily bag limit for canvasback to one per day because of decreasing numbers throughout North America.

Goose hunting seasons will vary among management areas across the state, but most open mid-October and run through late January. Limits for most geese did not change, except the commission did increase the daily bag limit for cackling geese in southwest Washington from three to four.

The commission also increased the overall harvest quota for dusky Canada geese in southwest Washington from 45 to 85 birds. As in previous years, hunters are limited to one dusky Canada goose a season in southwest Washington.

The goose and duck hunting seasons approved by the commission are based on state and federal waterfowl population estimates and guidelines. According to those estimates, a record number of ducks – approximately 49 million – were on the breeding grounds this spring in Canada and the United States.

Details on the waterfowl hunting seasons will be available later this week on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hunting/regulations/.

In other action, the commission approved several land transactions, including the purchase of two parcels totaling nearly 2,900 acres of shrub-steppe in Yakima County. The land, located about five miles west of Naches, serves as critical habitat for a variety of wildlife, and is an important connection between summer and winter range for the Yakima elk herd.

The two parcels will be acquired through a partnership with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Cowiche Canyon Conservancy and the state Department of Ecology (DOE). The 2,588-acre property will be purchased for $1.38 million, while a 305-acre property will cost $170,000.

DOE and the Kennewick Irrigation District are providing the funding to acquire the two parcels to mitigate for the loss of shrub-steppe habitat that was converted to agricultural land. The properties will be managed as part of WDFW’s Oak Creek Wildlife Area.

The commission also received a briefing on a scientific panel’s determination that the disease that leaves elk in the St. Helens and Willapa Hills areas of southwest Washington with misshapen hooves likely involves a type of bacterial infection.

Members of the panel, composed of veterinarians and researchers throughout the state, agreed that the disease closely resembles contagious ovine digital dermatitis in sheep. The panel’s diagnosis is consistent with the findings of the USDA National Animal Disease Center and four other independent diagnostic laboratories that have tested samples of elk hooves submitted by WDFW since last year.

For more information on elk hoof disease, see WDFW’s recent news release at http://wdfw.wa.gov/news/jun2314a/ and the department’s wildlife health webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/health/hoof_disease/.

In other business, the commission conducted public hearings on the 2015-2021 Game Management Plan and proposed updates to the state Hydraulic Code.

The commission also received briefings on the department’s legislative proposals for 2015, proposed 2015-2017 operating and capital budget requests, and new potential revenue sources.

In addition, the commission was briefed on the impacts of a possible reduction in state General Funds. The potential cuts are in response to Gov. Jay Inslee’s directive to state agencies to prioritize their activities and identify reductions totaling 15 percent.

‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ in Washington this Fourth of July Holiday

Americans love to celebrate the Fourth of July with family, friends, food and fireworks, but too often alcohol turns the party into a tragedy, making this iconic holiday one of the most deadly days of the year on the nation’s roads.

That’s why this June and July Thurston, Gray’s Harbor, Cowlitz, and Lewis Counties are stepping up police presence throughout the entire southwest Washington region as part of the “DUI Summer Kick-Off”enforcement crackdown to catch and arrest impaired drivers who put themselves and others at risk.

“Local police will be out in force throughout this Independence Day, on the lookout for motorists who have had too much alcohol to be behind the wheel of a vehicle,” said Grays Harbor County’s Target Zero Manager Susan Bradbury.  “Police will have zero tolerance for drivers who drink and drive this July 4th, putting themselves and everyone else on our roads at risk of life and limb.”

While death and injury are of course the most serious of possible consequences of drunk driving, there are other negative considerations that can affect lives for many years, including loss of a driver licenses, vehicle impound, jail time, lawyer fees, court costs, insurance hikes, just to name a few.

Be safe while you’re having fun this summer.  If you’re impaired, use a taxi or call a sober friend or family member. And if you happen to see a drunk driver on the road, don’t hesitate to contact local police.

Wildlife Department plans to survey elk with hoof disease, euthanize those with severe symptoms

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) plans to conduct a broad-based survey this summer of elk with hoof disease in southwest Washington and will likely euthanize those with severe symptoms of the crippling ailment.

To help with the survey, state wildlife managers plan to enlist dozens of volunteers to assist them in assessing the prevalence and geographic distribution of the disease in the St. Helens and Willapa Hills elk herds.

To minimize the spread of the disease, WDFW is also proposing new regulations requiring hunters to leave the hooves of any elk taken in the affected area on site.

WDFW announced its plan two weeks after a 16-member scientific panel agreed that the disease most likely involves a type of bacterial infection that leaves elk with missing or misshapen hooves.

Members of the panel, composed of veterinarians and researchers throughout the state, agreed that the disease closely resembles contagious ovine digital dermatitis in sheep.

Dr. Kristin Mansfield, WDFW epidemiologist, said the panel’s diagnosis is consistent with the findings of the USDA National Animal Disease Center and four other independent diagnostic laboratories that have tested samples of elk hooves submitted by WDFW since last year.

Mansfield said treponeme bacteria have been linked to an increase of hoof disease in sheep and cattle in many parts of the world, but have never before been documented in elk or other wildlife.

Nate Pamplin, director of WDFW’s Wildlife Program, said the diagnosis limits the department’s management options, because there is no vaccine for the disease and no proven options for treating it in the field.

“At this point, we don’t know whether we can contain this disease,” Pamplin said, “but we do know that assessing its impacts and putting severely crippled animals out of their misery is the right thing to do.”

Since 2008, WDFW has received increasing reports of elk with misshapen hooves in Cowlitz, Pacific, Lewis, Clark, Wahkiakum and Grays Harbor counties, all within the range of the two elk herds.

Scientists believe the animals pick up and transmit the disease through wet soil, characteristic of the lowlands of southwest Washington.

“There is no evidence that the bacteria are harmful to humans, and tests have shown that the disease does not affect the animals’ meat or organs,” Mansfield said. “But treating infected animals has posed a real challenge for the livestock industry for nearly 30 years.”

Some livestock producers bathe the hooves of infected sheep and cattle in an antibiotic solution, but many become re-infected and are ultimately sent to market, Mansfield said.

“In any case, daily footbaths are not a realistic solution when you’re dealing with thousands of free-roaming elk,” she said.

The primary focus of WDFW’s work this summer will be to assess the geographic spread of the disease and the proportion of the herd that is affected, Pamplin said. The department will enlist the help of volunteers to run survey routes and report their observations.

Information gathered from the survey will be compared against sightings of diseased elk reported by the public since 2010 using WDFW’s online reporting system, he said. Reports can be filed at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/health/hoof_disease/reporting/ .

Next winter, WDFW will capture and fit elk with radio-collars to determine how the disease is affecting area elk populations, survival rates and calving. Wildlife managers will likely remove elk showing severe symptoms of hoof disease to end their suffering, Pamplin said.

In a separate measure, the department has proposed new regulations requiring hunters to leave the hooves of any elk taken in the affected area on site. The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission is scheduled to hear public comments and take action on that proposal in August.

Pamplin noted that hoof disease is one of a number of illnesses without a cure affecting wildlife throughout the nation. Chronic wasting disease, epizootic hemorrhagic disease and tuberculosis all take their toll on elk and deer each year in other states.

“Bacterial hoof disease in elk presents a huge challenge for all of us,” Pamplin said. “We will continue to work with scientists, hunters and local communities to assess its toll on area elk herds and determine our course of action.”

Washington heightens scrutiny of timber harvests near geological hazards

Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark has announced new requirements for proposed timber harvests near potential landslide hazard areas. Applicants for harvest permits will be required by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which Commissioner Goldmark administers, to provide a detailed site review by a qualified geologist when DNR determines that a timber harvest near unstable slopes could affect public safety.

 

“When questions began to be asked if a timber harvest conducted before I took office may have contributed in some way to the tragic Oso Landslide, I promised that DNR would thoroughly investigate these concerns using sound science and take appropriate action,” said Goldmark. “While that investigation is ongoing, DNR is taking the added precaution of requiring site-specific geologic review of any harvest application involving potential geological hazards that is in close proximity to public safety considerations. This added scrutiny provides more information to help properly identify potential hazards and avoid impacts.”

 

“This is part of my commitment to ensure that Washington State has a scientifically rigorous and ecologically sustainable regulatory environment for timber harvest,” said Goldmark. Since Goldmark took office in 2009, the State Forest Practices Board, which is chaired by Commissioner Goldmark’s delegate, has eliminated loopholes that allowed non-specific and outdated Watershed Analysis prescriptions for landslide areas, improved harvest protections for riparian zones, strengthened protections for cultural resources, and convened a special northern spotted owl conservation advisory group.

 

Commissioner Goldmark is acting on recent recommendations from the independent science and policy program, the Adaptive Management Program, which is in place to evaluate Washington’s Forest Practices Rules. A study of 2007 landslides in southwest Washington resulted in recommendations delivered in February, 2014 from the Program’s multi-stakeholder policy committee. No changes to current Forest Practices Rules were recommended, but the group recommended that DNR develop additional documentation requirements and make other improvements, such as seeking funding from the legislature to acquire higher-quality LiDAR topography data.

 

DNR’s new requirement that a “geotechnical report” be prepared is consistent with the policy committee’s recommendations. Geotechnical reports are already required for applications that propose to harvest timber on potentially unstable topographic features. DNR’s action extends that requirement where public safety considerations exist in the area, even when the application itself does not include potentially unstable features.

WDFW will hold two public meetings on hoof disease in S.W. Washington

OLYMPIA – State wildlife managers believe they are close to determining the cause of hoof disease in southwest Washington elk and plan to hold two meetings in April to share results to date and answer questions from the public.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has scheduled public meetings at the following times and locations:

  • Vancouver – April 15, 6-8 p.m., Community Room, 1200 Fort Vancouver Way.
  • Chehalis – April 16, 6-8 p.m., V.R. Lee Community Building (Recreation Park), 221 S.W. 13th Street.

Sandra Jonker, WDFW regional wildlife manager, said department staff will discuss results to date of ongoing tests designed to identify the cause of deformed or missing hooves in elk, primarily in Cowlitz, Pacific and Wahkiakum counties.

Since 2009, WDFW has collected tissue samples from 43 elk for testing at diagnostic laboratories at Washington State University, Colorado State University, the University of Wyoming, the USDA National Animal Disease Center and the University of Liverpool in England.

Jonker said recent tests of diseased hooves point to the presence of treponeme bacteria, which have been linked to hoof disease in cows and sheep in many parts of the world.

“It’s premature to announce a final diagnosis, but tests from three independent diagnostic labs appear to show an association between the diseased hooves and the presence of treponeme bacteria,” Jonker said. “That’s a real concern, because the options for treating the disease are extremely limited.”

Kristin Mansfield, WDFW epidemiologist, said treponemes have been linked to an increasing incidence of hoof disease in livestock for two decades, but have never been documented in elk or other wildlife.

There is no evidence that these bacteria are harmful to humans, she said, noting that tests indicate the disease is limited to hooves and does not affect the animals’ meat or organs.

Mansfield said scientists believe animals pick up and transmit the disease through wet soil, characteristic of the lowlands of southwest Washington. Livestock infected with treponeme bacteria may respond to repeated courses of antibiotics, but frequently become re-infected once they are returned to pasture, she said.

“Unfortunately, there is no vaccine for this disease,” she said. “Livestock that don’t respond to treatment or become re-infected after treatment are usually sent to market and slaughtered.”

For purposes of comparison, WDFW has collected elk from areas both affected and not affected by the disease, Jonker said. Testing of tissues taken from 11 elk in January will help determine whether treponemes are the primary cause of the disease or opportunistic bacteria that invade hooves that are already damaged, she said.

“Test results taken from those samples are due this summer, and should help us answer an important question about this disease,” Jonker said.

Meanwhile, WDFW is developing a management approach based on input from WDFW staff and two advisory groups created to help guide the department’s course:

  • A 14-member technical advisory group, established to recommend diagnostic approaches, will assess findings of the diagnostic laboratories and advise on disease control options. The group is composed of veterinarians from universities, government agencies and local veterinary practices in Washington and other states.
  • An 18-member public working group, made up of people from southwest Washington, is working with WDFW to share information and discuss management and research needs. The advisory group includes county commissioners, public and private landowners, hunters, sportsman groups, local business owners, and others concerned about the area elk herd.

“As with many wildlife diseases, there are no easy answers to this problem,” Jonker said. “But we need to be ready to take action, because doing nothing is not an option.”

As a precautionary measure, WDFW will ask the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission to adopt a new regulation requiring hunters to remove the hooves of any elk taken in southwest Washington and leave them in the area to prevent the disease from spreading.

In addition to the two public meetings sponsored by WDFW, wildlife managers will also participate in meetings sponsored by county officials concerned about hoof disease. Those meetings are scheduled at the following times and places:

  • Longview – March 27, 6-8 p.m., Cowlitz County Conference Center, 1900 7th Ave.
  • Cathlamet – April 2, 6 p.m., River Street Meeting Room, 25 River St.

To learn more about hoof disease or report a sighting, see WDFW’s website at
http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/health/hoof_disease/.

New biosolids land application site proposed in Elma

OLYMPIA – A Southwest Washington company proposes a 130-acre biosolids land application site in Elma.

The site, near 1715 W. Main St. consists of five fields. It would accept biosolids from the city of Elma wastewater treatment plant. Biosolids from Elma would be the only biosolids applied to this site.

The public is encouraged to comment on the proposal by Fire Mountain Farms Inc. of Onalaska through April 25.

The Washington State Department of Ecology will hold a public meeting April 22 in the Pavilion Meeting Room at the Grays Harbor County Fairgrounds, 32 Elma McCleary Road.

  • At 5 p.m. there will be an open house during which people gain information and can ask one-on-one questions of Ecology staff.
  • At 6 p.m. there will be a formal public meeting and hearing.

 

Ecology will equally consider all public comments, regardless of the method used to submit them, and respond in a document that will be available on Ecology’s website for the proposal.

After that, Ecology will make changes to the Site Specific Land Application Plan requirements as appropriate, and issue Fire Mountain Farms’ final letter of coverage documenting the agency’s decision.

The Site Specific Land Application Plan and related documents can be reviewed online at Ecology’s website for the proposal.

 

Documents also are available for review in-person at Ecology’s Southwest Regional Office, 300 Desmond Drive, Lacey, by appointment (360-407-6300).

 

Here’s how to submit comments:

  • Mail them to Jamie Olivarez, P.O. Box 47775, Olympia, WA 98504
  • Email them to jamie.olivarez@ecy.wa.gov
  • Provide oral or written comments during the April 22 hearing

Operation Safe Harbors nets nearly 100 arrest in Southwest Washington

Eighty-nine fugitive felons, including 10 sex offenders were arrested in a three-day roundup by the U.S. Marshals Service, police and deputies in Grays Harbor, Pacific and Mason counties this week. “Operation Safe Harbors was a multi jurisdictional sex offender compliance and violent offender [operation] targeting Grays Harbor, Pacific, and Mason Counties.
David Miller with the US Marshals Service said at a press conference in Montesano yesterday; six teams of officers tracked down felons wanted on arrest warrants throughout. “We had some great results, the first day was sex offender compliance checks, over 100 check on Level 2, and Level 3 sex offenders.
Operation Safe Harbors concluded yesterday with training for officers and others on child safety related to sex predators and online communications.

WSDOT: Cleaning of three southwest Washington bridges could affect traffic

It’s not quite spring, but starting Monday, Feb. 3, Washington State Department of Transportation crews will be doing some heavy cleaning on three steel bridges in Cowlitz and Lewis counties.

The State Route 4 Peter Crawford, State Route 433 Lewis and Clark, and the northbound Interstate 5 Cowlitz River bridges will all get a scrubbing over the next two months.

Over time, bridges accumulate various substances that can damage the structure, including dirt, mildew, road spray, chemicals, and bird and animal feces. A regular washing cycle can reduce damage and help improve the efficiency of WSDOT’s rigorous bridge inspection program.

“Cleaning off the grime means we get less rust, paint lasts longer and the bridge stays in better shape overall,” said WSDOT Bridge Supervisor Mike London. “Clean bridges are also easier to inspect, which helps us keep them in good repair and safe for drivers.”

Bridge washing timelines and traffic impacts

SR 4 Peter Crawford Bridge
   • Mondays-Thursdays, Feb. 3-20
• Single-lane closures from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

SR 433 Lewis and Clark Bridge
   • Mondays-Fridays, Feb. 10-March 20
• Narrow lanes, no over-width loads from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
• Delays of up to 30 minutes

Northbound I-5 Cowlitz River Bridge
   • Saturdays and Sundays, March 1-16
• Single-lane closures from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The 63-year-old Peter Crawford Bridge carries SR 4 over the Cowlitz River in Kelso. Crews will clean debris from the structure by hand and then use a low pressure, high volume water hose to wash the bridge from top to bottom.

The 84-year-old SR 433 Lewis and Clark Bridge between Longview and Rainier, Ore. was recently painted and does not need to be hand-cleaned. WSDOT crews will wash all of the steel elements in and below the bridge deck. The superstructure – the latticed steel above the roadway – will not be washed this year.

Two side-by-side structures carry I-5 over the Cowlitz River in southern Lewis County. This year, crews will wash only the northbound bridge. Like the Peter Crawford Bridge, the 61-year-old northbound I-5 Cowlitz River Bridge must be hand-cleaned before it can be washed.

Through its comprehensive bridge program, WSDOT cares for nearly 3,500 bridges and structures statewide. Crews regularly inspect and perform spot cleaning and repairs, and regular overall cleanings help further protect taxpayers’ investments in our state transportation system.

Strong storm to impact Southwest Washington region

South Bend, WA – The National Weather Service (NWS) in Portland has issued a High Wind Warning for the South Washington Coast. The strongest storm system so far this winter will bring strong wind to our region. The warning is effective from 4:00 p.m. tonight to 10:00 p.m. Saturday. The NWS is forecasting sustained south winds of 35-40 mph, with gusts to 60-75 mph.

The National Weather Service (NWS) in Portland has also issued a High Surf Warning for the South Washington Coast in effect from 4:00 p.m. Saturday to 10:00 a.m. Sunday. The peak surf Saturday evening coincides with high tide and there is potential for some minor coastal flooding.

Precautionary/Preparedness Actions:

A High Wind Warning means that a hazardous high wind event is expected or occurring. Sustained winds of 40 mph or more or gusts of 58 mph or more can lead to property damage.

A High Surf Warning means that dangerously high surf will batter beaches in the advisory area, producing deadly rip currents and minor beach erosion.  Dangerous surf may move large debris items like logs up to beaches. Avoid walking on jetties, rocks, coastal cliff, and along the water’s edge.

Please visit the NWS website at http://www.weather.gov/portland for the most up to date weather information. This page brings up all advisories, watches, and warnings for the Southwest Washington area.