Role of WSMZ

Discussion in 'Steelhead' started by Smalma, Jan 2, 2013.

  1. Smalma Active Member

    Posts: 2,831
    Marysville, Washington
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    In the "How much lass (sic) crowded is the penisula vs the S rivers" thread the issue of Wild steelhead/salmonid management rivers/zones can up. I thought that it is too important of an issue to be buried in another thread so am startting this one.

    Rich Simms in the other thread stated -
    "I would love to see the Skagit go the same direction as the Sol Duc, .... I would love to see a few hundred folks testifying at the upcoming Commission hearing to make the Skagit the next wild steelhead managed stream in the state of Washington."

    Later he stated -
    "I personally would like see one entire system in Puget Sound become managed has a wild steelhead managed river, in my opinion the Skagit would be the best candidate."

    In response I stated -
    "I see and get the appeal of moving the management of the Skagit more in the direction of the Sol Duc. However with the large Wild Salmonid Management Zones (WSMZs) on the Skagit (All of the Sauk, the Cascade above the lower bridge, and the Skagit itself above the mouth of the Cascade) I feel pretty strongly that the managment structure on the Skagit is much more conservative and responsive (to) the resource diversity needs."

    Hopefully the above will serve as a pring board for more discussion on this very important concept/managment approach. Clearly the nuances between wild steelhead management and wild salmonid management will be key.

    Curt
  2. Chris DeLeone Active Member

    Posts: 526
    Monroe, WA
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    The only problem with having the Skagit as a WSMZ is the elimination of the Steelhead hatchery would eliminate the Steelhead angler - as its stated now, no hatchery and hatchery fish to utilize in that basin's resource - NO FISHING. If they took a true management approach and allowed - co manger (Indians) to take their 200-300 fish and allowed for C&R angling - I would be a HUGE supported. We all should know by now its not the hatchery fish hurting the Skagit wild Steelhead (they don't help) - its ocean conditions and the piss poor knowledge of what happens to the smolt when they hit PS - we are seeing less than a 1000 hatchery fish come back to the Skagit - I guess I would live with the 1000 hatchery fish and the impacts as smolt on the out migration to fish - I would love to see the elimination of hatchery smolt, the Skagit managed as a WSMZ and C&R angling - I think it would be a great study and really help our Wild Steelhead in the Skagit.
  3. Smalma Active Member

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    In regards to establishing a whole Puget Sound system being managed as a wild steelhead management river (no planting of hatchery fish). that has been done currently the Nisqually and Cedar have not been planted with hatchery steelhead for nearly two decades. Recently the Samish, Dosewallips, and Hamma Hamma have been added to the list of Puget Sound systems not planted with hatchery steelhead. While those systems should never be confused with the Skagit they are entire systems that are no longer planted with steelhead.

    The lke the Sol Duc on the larger Quillayute system major portions of significant Puget Sound rivers are no longer planted with steelhead. Examples inlcude the Sauk on the Skagit; the North Fork and South Fork Skykomish, Pilchuck River, and other tribs on the Snohomish sustem; South and Middle forks of the Nooksack, etc.

    There are all serveral examples of where planting of Chambers Creek hatchery winters have been replaced with rescue programs based on wild steelhead.

    In short progress has been made in the developewment of WSMZs though a better understanding of what WSMZ should or could be and how wide spread the application of such zones should be needs better definition and clarification.

    Curt
  4. cuponoodle breakfast Active Member

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    Arlington
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    What exactly is the definition of a WSMZ? What are the criteria? It has to be more than an absence of hatchery plants.
  5. Smalma Active Member

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    Marysville, Washington
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    Cupnoodle -
    An excellent question and directly on point.

    WDFW's Statewide Steelhead Management Plan in its definition section defined a WSMZ as:

    "A network of wild steelhead stock populations across the state where stocks are not planted with hatchery steelhead and are largely protected from the effects of hathcery programs (ie gene bank)."

    Like you I think that the concept should be much larger and I guess that were the similar but significantly different ideas of Wild Steelhead Management Zones (WSMZs) and Wild Salmonid Management Areas (WSMAs) come into play. The difference between the current regulations on the Sol Duc and the Sauk clearly illustrate the differences between the two and why I prefer the approach on the Sauk/Skagit (WSMA) over that on the Sol Duc/Quillayute (WSMZ).

    On the Sol Duc the issue of hatchery steelhead was addressed. While on the Sauk (with the regulation becoming CnR for all species (except hatchery steelhead) with selective gear rules) the approach includes not only addressing the hatchery issue but is multiple species and multiple life histories .

    Curt
  6. Chris Johnson Member: Native Fish Society

    Posts: 1,792
    Bellingham Wa.
    Ratings: +316 / 1
    1. Work with tribal co-managers to establish network of Wild Salmonid Management Zones (WSMZ)1 across the state where wild stocks are largely protected from the effects of same species hatchery programs. The Department will have a goal of establishing at least one WSMZ for each species in each major population group (bio-geographical region, strata) in each ESU/DPS. Each stock selected for inclusion in the WSMZ must be sufficiently abundant and productive to be self-sustaining in the future. Fisheries can be conducted in WSMZ if wild stock management objectives are met as well as any necessary federal ESA determinations are received.

    1 Wild Salmonid Management Zone is equal in meaning and application to the term of ‘Wild Stock Gene Bank’ as used and defined in the Statewide Steelhead Management Plan.

    This is all I could find on the WDFW website
  7. Charles Sullivan dreaming through the come down

    Posts: 2,307
    bellingham wa
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    Here's the deal. The issues with the Skagit are either in the PS or in the big ocean.

    Eliminating hatchery fish may help w/ PS isssues. It's a basically flawed argument to say because other rivers w/o hatcheries have not seen a rebound it's not the hatcheries. Hatchery impacts in the sound could be from plants on other rivers.

    Why could we not transfer impacts from a failed hatchery season to a C&R season?


    Go Sox,
    cds
  8. freestoneangler Not to be confused with Freestone

    Posts: 4,121
    Edgewood, WA
    Ratings: +786 / 1
    My experience has been that both clipped and un-clipped fish take flies and provide great sport. Also that some believe they know the reasons for declining stocks and have the answers for restoring them...they don't. WSMZ is, IMO, just a continuation of the science project started 118 years ago.
  9. Charles Sullivan dreaming through the come down

    Posts: 2,307
    bellingham wa
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    https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/erule.jsp?id=1258

    Seems like the Cascade steelhead program is worth it (t.i.c).

    The only positive of it is that it allows for a season, of sorts. The other positive is that it's such an abject failure that there aren't a whole lot of fish to impact adult spawners. Any effects on juveniles are really unknown and it seeems assumed to be absent.

    Hoestly, the cascade steelhead program makes the famed bridge to nowhere seem to be a sound use of taxpayer money.

    Go Sox,
    cds
  10. Rich Simms Active Member

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    Occupy Hearings!
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    For the record, here was my response:
    Curt, I agree regarding the place to get into discussion, this thread has changed course. I personally would like see one entire system in Puget Sound become managed has a wild steelhead managed river, in my opinion the Skagit would be the best candidate. Again my opinion, The Puget Sound Hatchery Action Advisory Committee appears to be inconsistent in their procedure in determining which rivers to designate as wild, bending politically to keep hatcheries in tact no matter the cost to the tax payer, how ineffective and ultimately the cost to wild steelhead and their recovery.

    Chris, Your thoughts are interesting as a which came first the chicken or the egg paradox. Right now there is no real C&R season on the Skagit to target wild steelhead, just incidental catch during poor hatchery runs that is potentially impacting the wild run due to introgression and competition for habitat. Since there in no real C&R season, what if you quite planting hatchery fish in the entire system and see if it responds? What do we have to loose and perhaps something to actually gain with some initial pain. I hear folks talk all the time that said they would be willing hang up their rod if it would help wild steelhead.

    The depressed Wind River wild steelhead responded after the discontinuing the planting of hatchery summer runs and in the end responded and now offers a C&R season for wild steelhead.

    The Toutle responded after the eruption of St. Helens, but, it crashed after we started planting again.

    I don't believe as well as many other folks way smarter than me that the Elwha will be better off in recovery if we fill it with hatchery fish.

    Of all of the Puget Sound proper streams I believe the Skagit with its habitat and current wild steelhead run compared to other streams in Puget Sound has the best chance to responded, in the end, all of this is my humble opinon and providing something to think about, I'll leave it at that.
  11. Derek Day Rockyday

    Posts: 567
    Olympia
    Ratings: +146 / 0
    This is how WSMZs are being defined by the Puget Sound Partnership and the Action Agenda. I don't know why they're targeting recreational fisheries in the recovery plans. Scary, bad, bad policy.

    "Steelhead Recovery Plan. Complete development process for a Puget Sound steelhead recovery plan by 2015. PSP will assist and facilitate the Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Council in the initial steps needed in order to submit a draft Puget Sound steelhead recovery plan to NOAA for federal review by December 2014. These plans will be inclusive and integrated and will look at various implementation actions to achieve recovery, including actions like the designation of Wild Steelhead Management Zones where consistent with the objectives identified in the watershed specific recovery plans. WDFW and the tribes, by agreement of the co-managers, will work to establish 3 streams (one in each Technical Recovery Team identified Major Population Group) where no juvenile hatchery steelhead would be released, no recreational fisheries for steelhead would occur, and habitat protection and restoration actions would be accelerated. This early steelhead recovery action would consider information already compiled for the Steelhead Recovery Plan that is under development."
  12. Chris DeLeone Active Member

    Posts: 526
    Monroe, WA
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    "Chris, Your thoughts are interesting as a which came first the chicken or the egg paradox. Right now there is no real C&R season on the Skagit to target wild steelhead, just incidental catch during poor hatchery runs that is potentially impacting the wild run due to introgression and competition for habitat. Since there in no real C&R season, what if you quite planting hatchery fish in the entire system and see if it responds? What do we have to loose and perhaps something to actually gain with some initial pain. I hear folks talk all the time that said they would be willing hang up their rod if it would help wild steelhead."

    Rich - you alway miss the point on this - recreational C&R fishing does not significantly impact the runs, NOAA, the State and everyone else understands that - that is one main reason - I have give little financial support to that philosophy over the past five years or so - some guys seem to think hanging up our rods "initial pain" will bring the fish back. I think they should manage the resource - by limiting means of the angler - no boats, no bait, barbless hooks - lowering our impact by limiting our productivity.
    They plant (approximately) over 200,000 Steelhead hatchery smolt in the Skagit and they get less then a 1000 back - something is happening to them in PS and the open ocean and stopping us from fishing will not help the fish "respond" to that issue.

    We have everything to loose Rich - in my opinion, when anglers have lost fishing opportunities, the fish loose their voice.

    Please don't get me wrong - I know many of our Eco-Fish Groups have done some great things for Steelhead in WA and I thank you for your personal time as President of WSC, not many men can look back and say they made that kind of commitment to a resource - This hang up our rods thing just gets to me and I always hoped you guys would be like DU - Conservation driven, but hunter focused.

    Happy New Year Rich
  13. Charles Sullivan dreaming through the come down

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    Thank you for that DD. Where can we send our letters? Are there regular meetings that can be attended?

    Go Sox,
    cds
  14. Charles Sullivan dreaming through the come down

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  15. Smalma Active Member

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    Any discussion on WSMZs probably should include the grand daddy of WSMZs in the PNW - that would be Deer Creek on the North Fork Stillaguamsh. That has been in place for approx. 75 years. Except for a short term wild brood stock more than 60 years ago the basin has been closed to all fishing and has not recieved plants fof hatchery steelhead. In addition to the Deer Creek being closed to fishing the fishing on the North Fork has been Wild steelhead release for 30 years and the main river nearly that long. Genetic testing of the Deer Creek juveniles found that the Deer Creek summer steelhead are unique with the closest related population being the North Fork wild winters. In addition there was no indication of genetic introgression between the Deer Creek fish and hatchery stocks. Yet somehow the Deer Creek summer steelhead are in as poor shape as most of the Puget Sound steelhead stocks.

    Rich -
    I did include your desire for an ENTIRE PS basin being a WSMZ. I'm not sure that the rebound of the Wind river steelhead can be directly attributed to the end of the hatchery plants. Over the last 30 years on the North Fork Stillaguamish there has been 5 different times that more conservative fishing regulations put into place on the system. In each and every case there was an imediate reduction of wild winter escapements. Are we to conclude that conservative management is bad for wild steelhead?

    Derek-
    I would be find with PSP idea of systems with no fishing if they were willing to also put into place the other piece of the puzzle. That of course would setting aside basins with no habitat adverse impacts - no logging, no hydro development, no development, no water withdrawals (including wells), etc. In fact it would be interesting to set aside several basins with no fishing and several similar sized basins with no habitat impacts. Any bets on which basin would rebound faster and to higher levels?

    Somehow I think PSP will be hesitate to go down that path. Easy to pick on the recreational angler - little tougher to take on the big boys which of course the rub.

    Anyway something more to think about.

    Curt
  16. KerryS Ignored Member

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    Sedro Woolley, WA, USA.
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    I would think any discussion of the Deer Creek steelhead and their inability to recover might include something about mechanized logging and the almost complete destruction of the Deer Creek watershed by mechanized logging practices and a total disregard for road building practices and drainage along those poorly built roads which resulted in siltage of the Deer Creek steelhead spawning grounds. Towards the end of the seventies and into the eighties the Deer Creek watershed looked like a nuclear bomb had been tested up there.
    Jonathan Stumpf likes this.
  17. Rich Simms Active Member

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    Happy New Years and thanks Chris, I guess I need some help to understand which point I am missing, I think we agree more than we think, which includes loosing opportunity, means loosing advocates for the resource.

    Curt, What would be your opinion regarding the Wind's successful turn around?
  18. Smalma Active Member

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    Marysville, Washington
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    Kerry - you are dead on. The only thing going on in the Deer Creek basin was logging. All during the 1970s and early 1980s the basin was slowly coming part. The Deforest slide over the winter of 1983/84 pushed the basin over the edge. The single slide put more than a million cubic yards into the creek yet that was only 1/2 of the sediment input. The stream channel widen, lost most of its stream side cover leaving extensive gravel bars, and every high water put the bottom into motion. By 1985 even during the lowest flows of the summer it was rare to find more than a inch or two of visisbility, all the pools had been filled in with sand and gravel (one was hard pressed to find any water more than a couple feet deep). Summer stream temperatures would spike well into the 70s during the days and by late August even the night time temps would be in the middle 60s. The warmest I ever saw the day time stream temps was 81 degrees.

    Most of us thought that the Deer Creek summer steelhead would never survive to see the new century yet somehow they are still there today. More of a testiony to their resilency than anything man did. The recovery of the basin's habitat has been very slow - maybe because logging continues on State and private lands (the USFS stopped logging on their lands in the mid-1980s - they own approximately 1/2 of the basin).

    BTW -
    The Deer Creek basin would be a great area for the Puget Sound Partnership to suggest that all logging end - yeah right we'll see that.

    Curt
  19. Chris Bellows The Thought Train

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    The Salt
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    what i find interesting is that we are being serious that a tributary of a river that receives 200K + plants a year can be considered a WSMZ. there have been articles and studies for 20+ years on the ecological impacts from hatchery plants and we often forget that hatchery impacts do not begin and end with genetics. a true WSMZ would have zero hatchery plants from saltwater to headwaters. while our current WSMZ's are better than doing nothing they are cannot be truly managed for wild steelhead with the downstream river impacts from plants.
    Charles Sullivan likes this.
  20. Charles Sullivan dreaming through the come down

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    Seems pretty simple to me too. I would even go a step farther and say the impacts could be in the salt water too. This would be especially likely if he river in question emptied into a protected water body that was an ecosystem of it's own. It would be even more likely if the reason for decline was thought to be mortality in that near shore salt water area.

    I'm sure that hatchery and wild fish don't comingle, share habitat or have effects on one another in lower portions of rivers, near shore environments and the Puget Sound. How could they? It's not like they smolt and outmigrate at the same time right?

    Go Sox,
    cds