Occupy Skagit III
The last couple of springs we have gathered at Howard Miller Steelhead park in Rockport to show support for changing the management paradigm for wild Skagit Steelhead. Currently, all of Puget Sound Steelhead are considered by the ESA as one Distinct Population Segment (DPS) and as such are listed by them as threatened to become an endangered species.
The decision can be read here:
The decision covers all of Puget Sound from the Elwah to the Canadian border, every piece of fresh water between these two points that dumps into the sound is affected by this listing. The health of each individual run is not considered on its own merit, but instead the entire area's steelhead are tainted with the aura of “nearing extinction”. While this may be true of many streams affected by the listing it is not true for all of them – the Skagit in particular continues to return healthy escapement numbers. These numbers can be seen to be fluctuating up and down in what many consider to be it's carrying capacity zone.
Scientists can argue over the numbers, their validity and what they mean but here they are in ten year increments:
1978 – 5,757 (the first year that I can find for WDFW escapement numbers)
1983 - 7,732
1993 - 6,900
2003 - 6,818
2013 – 8,800
Last season, 2014, the escapement was 8900+
The projection for 2015 is 9130.
The goal of Occupy Skagit is to restore the Catch and Release Steelhead season on the Skagit that used to run for Feb 1 – April 30.
In order for this season to be granted by NOAA and NMFS, a basin specific Steelhead Management Plan agreed upon by all parties, WDFW and Tribes, needs to be submitted and approved.
Is it possible?
Very much so!
Is it being done?
Well, not exactly. Although the major stockholders are all in verbal agreement that a C&R season will not impact the future of the run, apparently, no one is spearheading a mangement plan. This has to be unacceptable! We started this conversation with them two years ago!
Our goal this time around is to get this Skagit Steelhead management plan officially started. We need to have a WDFW employee attached to this plan. And we need it to happen now.
There is a new director in Olympia, and he needs to hear from Occupy Skagit. Send him and the Commissioners an email.Ask them who is in charge of writing the management plan and how to contact them/him about its progress. If you know how to contact any of the Commissioners personally, ask them the same questions. Push, push, push. Email: [email protected]
Commission Website: http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/
We've never pushed an email campaign before but I think we need to now. Having met the commissioners several times, I know that a hand written letter to them will also go a long ways. Take five minutes out of your day and communicate with these officials.
The Commission hearing from you is the single most important thing you can do at this point.
There are two events scheduled; Rockport is fun, but the real deal is in Olympia.
Occupy Skagit III - April 4th 2015
Howard Miller Steelhead Park in Rockport
Occupy Skagit Commissioners Meeting - April 10th 8:30 am
Natural Resources Building
1111 Washington St SE, Olympia, WA - First Floor, Room 172