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PostFri Jun 16, 2017 6:09 pm 
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Thursday June 15, 2017 14:22 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

Sturgeon fishing closes in lower Columbia, opens June 23 for one day in Bonneville Pool


OLYMPIA – The retention fishery for white sturgeon in the Columbia River estuary closed today at 2 p.m., but anglers will get an additional day to catch and keep sturgeon upriver Friday, June 23 in the Bonneville Pool.

Fishery managers from Washington and Oregon approved both actions after comparing catch-to-date to the harvest guidelines for sturgeon fisheries in both areas.

As of today, the cumulative catch by anglers fishing from the Wauna power lines downstream to the mouth of the Columbia is expected to reach – or slightly exceed – the 3,000-fish harvest guideline for the lower river.

As a result, both states agreed to cancel a final day of fishing in previously scheduled Saturday, June 17, said Ron Roler, a fishery manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

"The combined catch in the lower river rose somewhat more quickly than expected," Roler said. "We knew this would be a popular fishery, and that's definitely turned out to be the case."

The fishery, open three days a week since June 5, marked the first time in three years that anglers have been allowed to catch and keep white sturgeon below Bonneville Dam. Closed in 2014 to allow stocks to rebuild, the fishery opened on a limited basis this year based on indications that the area's sturgeon population has grown each year since then.

The lower Columbia River remains open to catch-and-release fishing.

Meanwhile, fishery managers agreed to open the Bonneville Pool on Friday, June 23 for one more day of summer retention fishing. The catch assessment shows that 144 sturgeon are still available for harvest under that area's 325-fish harvest guideline.

Anglers are limited to one sturgeon per day, measuring 38 to 54 inches from their snout to the tip of their tail.

For more information, see the WDFW's Fishing Rule webpage at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/

-WDFW-

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PostFri Jun 16, 2017 6:11 pm 
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Tuesday, June 13, 2017 17:13 PDT

WDFW restricts target shooting on the Wenas Wildlife Area

OLYMPIA – To reduce the risk of wildfires, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will again restrict target shooting on the Wenas Wildlife Area near Yakima and Ellensburg.

The restriction, which will be in effect June 15 through Sept. 30, will limit target shooting to the hours between sunrise and 10 a.m., when the risk of starting a wildfire is less severe.

Public notice of the limited hours will be posted at all entry points and at other target shooting sites in the wildlife area.

The department has restricted target shooting every summer since 2012, and closed the wildlife area to all shooting in the summers of 2014 and 2015 due to extreme fire danger, said Cindi Confer Morris, manager of the WDFW wildlife area.

"With vegetation drying out and temperatures heating up, conditions are prime for sparking a fire," Confer Morris said. "These fire restrictions are necessary to help protect public recreation lands and wildlife habitat."

State land managers ask that all visitors to the wildlife area take precautions to avoid igniting a wildfire. Information about local fire danger is available at https://fortress.wa.gov/dnr/protection/firedanger/

WDFW adopted the rule in cooperation with the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which owns lands within the 114,150-acre wildlife area.

This spring, WDFW formed an advisory group to recommend any changes needed to target shooting strategies within the Wenas Wildlife Area. The advisory group consists of 20 members, who represent diverse interests including affected landowners, hunters, target shooters, horseback riders, mountain bike riders, hikers, wildlife watchers, bird dog trainers, and motorized users.

More information about the advisory group, along with a schedule of meetings, can be found on WDFW's webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/advisory/wtsc/

Campfire restrictions are already in place at the Wenas in addition to the Colockum, L.T. Murray, Oak Creek and Sunnyside-Snake River wildlife areas through Oct. 15, and at the Columbia Basin Wildlife Area through Oct. 31. Fireworks and incendiary devices – including tracer rounds and exploding targets – are also prohibited to reduce wildfire risks.

For more information on WDFW wildlife areas, see the department's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/wildlife_areas/

-WDFW-

(see also two recent news releases from this week just above ^ )

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I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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PostTue Jun 20, 2017 5:30 pm 
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Tuesday June 20, 2017 16:41 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW invites public to June 27-28 listening sessions on target shooting at the Wenas Wildlife Area


YAKIMA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will hold listening sessions June 27 and 28 for the public to provide input on target shooting at the Wenas Wildlife Area.

Public feedback from the listening sessions will be shared with the Wenas Wildlife Area Target Shooting Advisory Committee to help inform their deliberations and eventual recommendations on how to provide recreational target shooting opportunities at the wildlife area.

Public listening sessions are scheduled for:

Tuesday, June 27, 6 to 9 p.m., in the Manastash Room at the Ellensburg Fairgrounds.
Wednesday, June 28, 6 to 9 p.m., at the Selah Civic Center, 216 S 1st St.

Additional public listening sessions will be scheduled in the fall.

More information about the Wenas Wildlife Area can be found on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/wildlife_areas/wenas/

For more information on the Wenas Wildlife Area Target Shooting Advisory Committee, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/advisory/wtsc/

-WDFW-

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Chico
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PostTue Jun 20, 2017 6:04 pm 
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Same as other places. Exploding targets are more of an issue there than the wet side however.

Typical issues:

Shooting across roads and trails (there have been any number of close calls with hikers and equestrians.)
Leaving garbage behind.
Shooting in prohibited areas (this has gotten better).

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PostTue Jun 27, 2017 6:31 pm 
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Tuesday June 27 2017 17:11 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW restricts fires and other activities on eastern Washington lands


OLYMPIA – The arrival of hot, dry weather has prompted the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to restrict fires and other activities beginning June 30 on agency-managed lands in eastern Washington.

Cynthia Wilkerson, manager of the WDFW Lands Division, said the department is taking steps to reduce the risk of fire in its wildlife areas and access areas.

"Following fire restrictions and exercising common sense are the most important steps people can take to preserve public recreation lands and wildlife habitat," Wilkerson said.

The department has issued an emergency order that imposes restrictions beginning June 30 on agency lands east of the Cascades. The new rule prohibits:

Fires or campfires, including those in fire rings, although personal camp stoves and lanterns fueled by propane, liquid petroleum or liquid petroleum gas are allowed.

Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle.

Welding and the use of chainsaws. Operating a torch with an open flame and all equipment powered by an internal combustion engine is prohibited.

Operating a motor vehicle away from developed roads. Parking is permitted within designated parking areas, including developed campgrounds and trailheads; and in areas without vegetation that are within 10 feet of roadways.

Fireworks are prohibited year-round at all 33 WDFW wildlife areas and 700-plus water access sites around the state. Throwing a lit cigarette or any other burning material from a motor vehicle on a state highway also is prohibited year-round.

WDFW owns and manages over 700,000 acres in eastern Washington. The restrictions in these areas will remain in effect until conditions improve and the risk of wildfires decreases, Wilkerson said. Any changes will be posted on the department's website: http://wdfw.wa.gov.

For more information about fires and fire prevention on public lands, visit the Washington Department of Natural Resources' website (http://www.dnr.wa.gov) or the U.S. Forest Service website (http://www.fs.usda.gov).

-WDFW-

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PostWed Jun 28, 2017 11:08 am 
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Wednesday June 28 2017 09:31 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

State government shutdown would force WDFW to close fisheries across the state


OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will be required to close or delay the opening of fishing seasons throughout the state if lawmakers are unable to enact a state budget before July 1.

"We are optimistic that lawmakers will resolve their differences and avoid a shutdown, but it's possible they will not succeed," WDFW Director Jim Unsworth said today. "We are providing this information to inform the public of the potential effects of a shutdown, so they can revise their plans if necessary during the busiest recreation season of the year."

Most WDFW facilities and programs would close or cease operations for the duration of a shutdown. The WDFW license sales network would be shut down, so hunting and fishing licenses and the Discover Pass would not be available from the department or its statewide network of retail vendors.

The department operates 83 fish hatcheries across the state, and Unsworth said the department would do everything possible to operate all of them during a possible shutdown.

"We are required by federal law to keep open the 42 hatcheries where we produce fish protected under the Endangered Species Act," he said. "At this time there is no clear authority to keep the remaining 41 hatcheries open, but we are exploring options to avoid closing any of them," he said.

The department would temporarily lay off about 1,800 employees if the shutdown occurred, while about 70 staff members would remain on-duty.

Unsworth said WDFW would be legally required to take the following steps in the event of a shutdown:

Close non-tribal fishing seasons on lakes, rivers, and saltwater marine areas throughout the state. The only exception would be the commercial and recreational Dungeness crab fisheries currently in progress off the Washington coast.  All other fisheries would be closed, including those on the Columbia River, Puget Sound, and on rivers, streams, and lakes across the state. The coastal crab fishery can stay open because the necessary funding does not require legislative appropriation.

Delay the start of several fishing seasons that are scheduled to open in early July, including recreational crabbing in parts of Puget Sound and the popular sockeye salmon fishery at Baker Lake in Whatcom County. WDFW staff would not be available to process rule changes required to open other fisheries, including the potential sockeye fishery at Lake Wenatchee in Chelan County.

Close all WDFW boat launches and water access sites. The department operates about 700 access sites. No maintenance activities would take place.
Stop the sale of WDFW fishing, hunting and other licenses, including the Discover Pass, through the system that supports online transactions and retail vendor sales. The license system would shut down at midnight June 30.

Stop processing Hydraulic Project Approval permits, required for construction projects in or near state waters, and shut down the department's online application system.
Stop receiving or processing public disclosure requests under the state's Public Records Act.

Close all state, regional and local offices.  WDFW is headquartered in Olympia and has regional offices in Ephrata, Mill Creek, Montesano, Olympia, Spokane, Vancouver, and Yakima, and local offices in many other communities.

Rely on other agencies to respond to crime reports or dangerous wildlife complaints, including poaching and other incidents. A handful of staff members would monitor the WDFW Police radio dispatch system and refer emergency responses to other agencies.

Leave the department's 33 wildlife areas unstaffed. These areas would remain open to the public but would not be maintained. Restrooms and other facilities would be closed.

-WDFW-

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"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. 
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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PostWed Jun 28, 2017 8:40 pm 
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Wednesday June 28, 2017 14:12 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

Trail cameras show first evidence of fishers born in the South Cascades


OLYMPIA – Grainy images of a young female fisher with her kit provide the first evidence that this rare forest carnivore is reproducing in the South Cascades, where state, federal and non-profit organizations are working to reintroduce them.

The pictures show a female fisher in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest coming down her den tree headfirst, carrying a large kit.

"She is hopefully the first of many female fishers we photograph attending a den site and caring for kits in the South Cascades," said Jeff Lewis, a wildlife biologist with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

The adult female fisher is only two years old, the youngest a fisher can be to give birth to kits, said Lewis.

"Reproductive success of a female this young and this new to the South Cascades is a positive sign that the reintroduction area can support a self-sustaining fisher population," said Tara Chestnut, an ecologist with Mount Rainier National Park.

"This is an inspiring milestone that shows how public, private, tribal and non-profit partners can together make big conservation wins happen, restoring our natural heritage and building a wilder future in our state," added Dave Werntz, science and conservation director for Conservation Northwest.

The female fisher was released in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest in February 2016 as part of an effort to restore fishers to the state. Fishers, a housecat-sized member of the weasel family, were eliminated from Washington by the mid-1900s through over-trapping and habitat loss. They have been listed as a state-endangered species since 1998.

WDFW, the National Park Service and Conservation Northwest are leading the Cascades fisher reintroduction project. Sixty-nine fishers have been released in the South Cascades to date. Fisher releases in the North Cascades will begin this fall.

Documentation of fisher offspring is only one indication of success in the Cascades, said Lewis. Project partners estimate that 77 percent of the fishers released in winter and spring of 2015-16 survived their first year and 64 percent of females established a home range.

Project partners also worked together from 2008 to 2010 to release and monitor 90 fishers in Olympic National Park. Monitoring efforts there have shown that the released animals have distributed themselves throughout the Olympic Peninsula and are successfully reproducing.

Fishers are related to otters and wolverines and are native to the forests of Washington, including the Cascade Mountain Range. Fishers prey on various small mammals – mountain beavers, squirrels and snowshoe hares – and are one of the most effective predators of porcupines.

Re-establishing viable populations of fishers in the Olympic and Cascade Mountains are important steps to down-listing the species in Washington State. The state recovery plan and implementation plan for fisher reintroduction in the Cascades can be found at: http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/fisher/reintroduction_cascades.html.

Sources of funding for the reintroductions include WDFW, the National Park Service, Conservation Northwest, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington's National Park Fund, the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Doris Duke Foundation, Defenders of Wildlife, and those who purchase Washington State personalized license plates, among others.

Fisher recovery efforts in Washington also rely on the support of the British Columbia Ministry of Environment, the British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, the British Columbia Trapper's Association, British Columbia trappers, and the private forest landowners that participate in conservation agreements for fishers.

Image available here: http://wdfw.wa.gov/news/attach/jun2817b.jpg

-WDFW-

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I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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PostFri Jun 30, 2017 4:37 pm 
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I've seen spots of hand plant Doug fir with a lot of porcupine damage. Is someone out in the industrial forest world asking if assisting fishers would have a financial payback? In the past they've been concerned with spring bear damage.
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PostThu Jul 06, 2017 4:36 pm 
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Thursday July 06 2017 13:59 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW monitors surviving pygmy rabbits after wildfire overruns breeding enclosure


EPHRATA – Wildlife managers are monitoring 32 endangered pygmy rabbits evacuated from a state-managed breeding facility scorched by a wildfire last week in Douglas County near Quincy.

Two of those rabbits were found today by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) biologists, who continue to search for survivors of the blaze.

They estimate that about 70 other rabbits died the night of June 28 when the Sutherland Canyon wildfire overran the 10-acre Beezley Hills breeding compound operated by WDFW on property purchased by a private landowner to support the species' recovery.

Partners in the project include the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Nature Conservancy.

Matt Monda, WDFW regional wildlife manager, said state biologists and reserve firefighters from the Wenatchee field office of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) worked side-by-side to save as many rabbits as they could the day after the wind-fanned wildfire burned through the area.

Three researchers from the University of Idaho also participated in the rescue effort.

"The BLM reserve fire crew was amazing," Monda said. "While waiting to be assigned to fire duty, they joined our staff to rescue the survivors, which escaped the flames by retreating into their burrows."

Many of those rabbits were found the next day in a small patch of sagebrush still standing on the charred landscape. Monda credits Jon Gallie, WDFW's lead biologist at the facility, for his quick thinking in protecting those plants as the fire drew near.

"Jon retrofitted the compound's irrigation system to saturate that patch of vegetation to keep it alive," Monda said. "Sagebrush provides both food and cover for pygmy rabbits, so it's essential to their survival."

The survivors have been transported to two other WDFW breeding compounds, both within about 20 miles from Beezley Hills. In all, Monda estimates that WDFW is now sheltering about 100 pygmy rabbits at those facilities.

"The fire was a setback for our restoration program, but we can start making up for those losses next year," Monda said. "Wildfires are a fact of life here in sagebrush country, which is a major reason why we don't keep all of the rabbits in one place." 

The Sutherland Canyon fire, sparked by a lightning strike, burned nearly 30,000 acres in Douglas and Grant counties before it was contained July 3.

Small enough to fit in a person's hand, pygmy rabbits lived in the shrub-steppe of central Washington for more than 100,000 years. But the species' population has declined dramatically over the past century, due primarily to the loss of native habitat.

By 2001, there were only 16 known pygmy rabbits in Washington state. The species was listed as endangered under state law in 1993 and under the federal Endangered Species Act in 2003.

Since 2011, WDFW has released hundreds of pygmy rabbits into the wild as part of a restoration effort involving USFWS, universities, zoos and conservation organizations such as the Nature Conservancy. The goal of these efforts is to restore the species' population to sustainable levels.

Eric Rickerson, state supervisor for USFWS, said that partnership is essential to the success of those efforts.

"Recovering wildlife such as the pygmy rabbit is a team effort, and we would not have been able to accomplish as much as we have without the continued support of WDFW, Washington State University, the Oregon Zoo and many others," he said. "The expertise, dedicated work force, and scientific contributions of our partners are vital, and a fire will not shake our determination to recover this endangered species."

WDFW is accepting donations to help support recovery efforts for pygmy rabbits in Washington state. Checks designated for "pygmy rabbit restoration" may be sent to  Fiscal Office, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, PO Box 43160, Olympia WA 98504-3160.

Photos:

A pygmy rabbit rescued from the Beezley Hills facility eats owl clover in its new enclosure. Photo by Kourtney Stonehouse, WDFW http://wdfw.wa.gov/news/attach/jul0617a_01.jpg
WDFW biologists Brian Zinke and Ella Rowan care for a pygmy rabbit at the Beezley Hills facility. Photo by Kourtney Stonehouse, WDFW http://wdfw.wa.gov/news/attach/jul0617a_02.jpg
Right to left: WDFW technician Jenna Outwater, University of Idaho student Austin Dupuis and an unidentified BLM firefighter search burrows for surviving pygmy rabbits.  Photo by Devon Comstock, WDFW http://wdfw.wa.gov/news/attach/jul0617a_03.jpg

-WDFW-

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I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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PostThu Jul 06, 2017 4:37 pm 
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so.... do they taste like chicken?  wink.gif

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PostMon Jul 24, 2017 6:17 pm 
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Monday July 24, 2017 15:39 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

State seeks input on Teanaway Community Forest recreation; Survey available through Aug. 24


OLYMPIA – The public is invited to participate in a survey about recreation in the Teanaway Community Forest as part of the State's long-term recreation planning process.

The Teanaway Community Forest is an important source of water and wildlife habitat, as well as a statewide recreation destination in the heart of the Cascades with opportunities for fishing, camping and taking in expansive views of the Teanaway Valley.

The 50,241-acre forest, located in the Yakima River Basin headwaters, is managed through a partnership between the state departments of Natural Resources (DNR) and Fish and Wildlife (WDFW). The departments want input from the forest's many visitors and nearby neighbors on current and future recreation priorities.

"Whether you've pulled off I-90 for the views or were lucky enough to snag a first-come, first-serve spot at one of the camping areas during a summer weekend, we want to hear from you—and all who help make up the shared story of Teanaway Community Forest," said Glenn Glover, acting statewide recreation manager.

The agencies, along with a 20-member advisory committee, value public feedback as they develop a recreation plan intended to guide long-term recreation priorities in the community forest.

"It's crucial we hear from people who value the Teanaway as we develop a recreation plan consistent with the watershed protection and conservation objectives that were key to establishing this community forest," said Mike Livingston, WDFW south central regional director.

To take the survey, visit http://bit.ly/TeanawaySurvey before close of business Thursday, Aug 24.

Teanaway Community Forest: An enduring partnership

The forest is managed through a partnership between DNR and WDFW, with input from the advisory committee, the local community and interested stakeholders. The plan will lay a foundation for the preservation and development of recreation opportunities consistent with watershed protection, the Teanaway Community Forest Management Plan and other priorities identified by state lawmakers.

The 2013 acquisition of the community forest was the single largest Washington state land transaction in 45 years and reflected more than a decade of collaboration.

The property is Washington's first state-managed community forest under the terms of legislation enacted in 2011. That law empowers communities to partner with DNR to purchase forests to preserve land in danger of conversion, and to support local economies and public recreation.

Acquisition of the Teanaway was one key step in implementing the Yakima Basin Integrated Plan - an initiative developed by a coalition of public and private organizations to safeguard the basin's water supply, restore fisheries, conserve habitat, preserve working lands and enhance recreational opportunities.

-WDFW-

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PostTue Aug 15, 2017 10:44 am 
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Ski wrote:
Tuesday June 20, 2017 16:41 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW invites public to June 27-28 listening sessions on target shooting at the Wenas Wildlife Area


YAKIMA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will hold listening sessions June 27 and 28 for the public to provide input on target shooting at the Wenas Wildlife Area.

Public feedback from the listening sessions will be shared with the Wenas Wildlife Area Target Shooting Advisory Committee to help inform their deliberations and eventual recommendations on how to provide recreational target shooting opportunities at the wildlife area.

Public listening sessions are scheduled for:

Tuesday, June 27, 6 to 9 p.m., in the Manastash Room at the Ellensburg Fairgrounds.
Wednesday, June 28, 6 to 9 p.m., at the Selah Civic Center, 216 S 1st St.

Additional public listening sessions will be scheduled in the fall.

More information about the Wenas Wildlife Area can be found on the WDFW website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/lands/wildlife_areas/wenas/

For more information on the Wenas Wildlife Area Target Shooting Advisory Committee, see http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/advisory/wtsc/

-WDFW-

Followup on Yakima Herald

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PostFri Aug 25, 2017 2:45 pm 
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Friday August 25, 2017 14:07 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

Wildfire prompts partial closure  of Scatter Creek Wildlife Area


OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) has closed the south side of the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area in Thurston County until further notice after a wind-blown wildfire swept through that area earlier this week.

State wildlife managers are currently assessing the damage caused by the fire, which flared up the afternoon of Aug. 22 in a nearby residential area of Rochester, then raced across 345 acres south of Scatter Creek in the wildlife area.

The fire destroyed several houses in the neighborhood and prompted the temporary evacuation of nearly 100 other residences. In the wildlife area, a historic homestead built in 1860 and a barn were also destroyed.

Fire crews from several neighboring counties helped to control the blaze, as did the Washington Department of Natural Resources, which is leading an investigation of the fire.

Owned and managed by WDFW, the Scatter Creek Wildlife Area provides a sanctuary for several threatened and endangered wildlife species, including Taylor's checkerspot and mardon skipper butterflies and the Mazama pocket gopher.

In addition, the wildlife area is a popular destination for hiking, birdwatching, dog training and upland bird hunting in the south Puget Sound area, said Brian Calkins, regional WDFW wildlife manager.

"This fire is truly a tragedy," Calkins said. "We put our heart and soul into restoring this remaining piece of rare native prairie, and we know a lot of people are going to feel this loss as much as we do."

Due to safety concerns, the southern portion of the wildlife area will remain closed until the department can assess and address hazardous conditions on the charred prairie landscape, Calkins said.

Calkins said fire damage will likely affect some activities scheduled in the burned, southern unit of the wildlife area, including upland bird hunting this fall. However, the 435-acre section of the wildlife area on the north side of Scatter Creek was largely unscathed by the wildfire and remains open to the public.

Calkins noted that WDFW has conducted prescribed burns on the wildlife area to improve habitat conditions in past years, but said no such burns have been conducted in 2017.

"These are clearly not the kind of conditions where we would conduct prescribed burns," he said. "The combination of dry grass and strong winds propelled the flames straight across the south side of the wildlife area."

Calkins said WDFW will immediately begin work to restore the burnt landscape south of Scatter Creek. Based on a preliminary estimate, that work will cost more than $1 million.

"We're invested in the future of this area, and we're already starting to plan recovery efforts to protect the prairie for use by animals and people," Calkins said. "We will be putting a lot of effort into weed control and replanting."

Scatter Creek is one of 33 state wildlife areas managed by WDFW to provide habitat for fish and wildlife as well as land for outdoor recreation.

-WDFW-

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I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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PostFri Aug 25, 2017 4:31 pm 
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Friday August 25, 2017 16:26 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

WDFW seeks input on draft status review for the Columbian sharp-tailed grouse


OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is taking public comments on its recommendation to keep the Columbian sharp-tailed grouse on the state's threatened species list.

The department periodically reviews the status of protected species in the state. The public can comment through Nov. 25, 2017, on the listing recommendation and recently updated status report for the Columbian sharp-tailed grouse.

The draft review on the Columbian sharp-tailed grouse is available online at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/endangered/status_review/

WDFW staff members are tentatively scheduled to discuss the review and recommendation with the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission at its Dec. 8, 2017 meeting. The commission is a citizen panel appointed by the governor to set policy for WDFW. For meeting dates and times, check the commission webpage at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/

In the 1800s, the Columbian sharp-tailed grouse was the most abundant game bird in eastern Washington. Historically, the highest densities of sharp-tailed grouse were in relatively moist grassland and shrub-steppe vegetation. The species is now restricted to parts of Douglas, Okanogan, and Lincoln counties, and the Colville Reservation. The 2017 state-wide population estimate, which is based on lek counts, was 564 birds.

The sharp-tailed grouse was listed as a threatened species in Washington in 1998. The remaining populations of sharp-tailed grouse in Washington are small, relatively isolated from one another, and may not persist unless they increase in size. Recovery of this species will require making improvements to grouse habitat, and expanding and connecting sections of habitat. WDFW continues its habitat restoration work as well as efforts to augment the state's grouse population.

Written comments on the review and recommendation can be submitted via email to TandEpubliccom@dfw.wa.gov or by mail to Hannah Anderson, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, P.O. Box 43141, Olympia, WA 98504-3200.

Forty-three species of fish and wildlife are listed for protection as state endangered, threatened or sensitive species.

-WDFW-

* see also notice posted immediately above *

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PostTue Aug 29, 2017 7:25 pm 
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Tuesday August 29, 2017 12:22 PDT

WDFW NEWS RELEASE

Snake River steelhead fishing limited to catch-and-release Sept. 1; daily limit reduced on tributaries


OLYMPIA – Beginning Sept. 1, anglers will be restricted to catch-and-release fishing on the Snake River due to an extremely low forecast of fish expected back this season.

State fishery managers also are reducing the daily catch limit for steelhead on tributaries of the Snake River, including the Grand Ronde, Touchet and Tucannon rivers, as well as on the Walla Walla River. Anglers fishing any of those rivers will be limited to retaining one hatchery-marked steelhead beginning Sept. 1.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) also will lift the rule requiring anglers to retain hatchery steelhead while fishing any of those four rivers. WDFW also is closing tributaries of the Grand Ronde and Touchet rivers beginning Sept. 1.

Fishery managers recently downgraded the forecast of early-run (or A-run) steelhead returning to the mainstem Snake River to 54,000 from 112,100 fish.

The catch-and-release only restriction is on the mainstem Snake, from the mouth of the river near the Tri-Cities to the Idaho/Oregon state line. The Snake River, from Bridge St. Bridge in Clarkston to the Oregon/Idaho border, which is currently closed to steelhead fishing, will open Sept. 1 to catch-and-release steelhead fishing.

"We knew we had to protect both wild and hatchery steelhead moving up the Snake bound for Idaho," said WDFW regional fish biologist Chris Donley of Spokane. "It's a first in my recollection."

The steelhead in the Grand Ronde, Touchet, Tucannon, and Walla Walla rivers are not Idaho-bound, explained WDFW district fish biologist Jeremy Trump. Based on tag returns of those fish, he said, allowing one hatchery fish a day in those waters will still leave enough for Washington hatchery broodstock needs and adequately protect weaker stocks of wild steelhead.

All other rules, including the requirement for barbless hooks to allow successful release of fish, remain in place. More information about these rule changes can be found on WDFW's website at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/

Fish managers will continue to monitor the steelhead run, and if additional harvest opportunity can be offered without negatively affecting wild steelhead or hatchery broodstock abundance, rules may be adjusted in coming months.

-WDFW-

( * emphasis added. 112,100 - 54,000 = 52% decrease. *)

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