Area's elk herd are focus of upcoming Sedro-Woolley meeting

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 16, 2013 

Elk of the Northwest Cascades, formerly known as the Nooksack herd, will be the focus of a public meeting Wednesday, June 26 in Sedro-Woolley.

This gathering, organized and moderated by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, will provide Whatcom and Skagit county residents and other interested persons with an opportunity to express their concerns and opinions about the herd's management.

Major issues open for discussion and suggestions include dealing with the impacts groups of these animals are having on agricultural and timber lands in both counties as well as travel safety on rural state and county roads.

WDFW Manager Russ Link, who leads agency's Wildlife Program in the Region Four, said this meeting also will serve to organize a local citizen's advisory committee that will help the agency refine and update the herd's management plan.

In preparation for this meeting, persons can peruse the current North Cascades Elk herd management document by downloading it from http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/00772/.

Link said such a group for the North Cascades herd would operate similarly to one that was established in the Upper Snoqualmie Valley a number of years ago where elk there had become problematic for timberland owners, residents, businesses and travelers in that rural community.

For more details about this advisory panel, visit http://www.snoqualmievalleyelk.org.

The current population of North Cascades elk herd is estimated by state and tribal biologists to be 1,200 to 1,400 animals down from its zenith around 1984 of 1,700.

They occupy habitats seasonally or year-round ranging from foothills mountain forests in Whatcom and Skagit counties down to valley bottom farmlands from near the Canadian Border south to the Stillaguamish River basin.

This elk meeting will convene at 6:30 p.m. and run to 8:30 p.m. at the Sedro-Woolley Community Center at 703 Pacific Street.

SNAKE REACHES REOPEN

Spring chinook are or will be legal to take again in three reaches of the Snake River.

Closed in May when information available for management fixed the 2013 early king run size at 107,500 fish, these limited openings became warranted when the spring chinook run strength was revised upwards to 115,000 fish earlier this month.

From most of these reopened Snake waters, anglers may take home one hatchery-origin adult and four hatchery-origin jack (specimens measuring less than 24 inches) chinook salmon. All must have a healed bump in place of their adipose fin.

Along the south shoreline of the Little Goose Dam (including "the wall") upstream to the juvenile bypass return pipe, anglers may retain only one adult hatchery chinook salmon and one hatchery jack chinook a day.

Barbless hooks are the order of the day for Snake salmon anglers who must stop fishing when they reach their daily limit of adult chinook salmon.

Chinook with the adipose fin intact, and all steelhead, must immediately be released unharmed. However, beginning Sunday, June 16, anglers will be allowed to keep up to three adipose-clipped hatchery steelhead each day.

Snake River reaches reopening in this opportunity are:

NEAR CLARKSTON

(Starting June 14 and thereafter Fridays and Saturdays each week) From the intersection of Steptoe Canyon Road with Highway 193 in Whitman County, upriver about 12 miles to the Washington state line (identified as a line from the north end of the rock levee on the east side of the Greenbelt boat launch near the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office), northwest across the Snake River to the Washington border and boundary water marker on the north shore.

NEAR ICE HARBOR DAM

(Starting June 17 and hereafter Mondays only each week) Extends from the Highway 12 Bridge (near Pasco) upstream about seven miles to the fishing restriction boundary below Ice Harbor Dam.

NEAR LITTLE GOOSE DAM

(Starting June 18 and thereafter Tuesdays only each week) Texas Rapids boat launch (south side of the river approximately 3.5 miles upstream of the mouth of Tucannon River) to the fishing restriction boundary below Little Goose Dam. This zone includes the area between the juvenile bypass return pipe and Little Goose Dam along the south shoreline of the facility and the walkway area locally known as "the wall" in front of the juvenile collection facility.

Anglers are encouraged to read this fishing rule change, posted on WDFW's website at https://fortress.wa.gov/dfw/erules/efishrules/erule.jsp?id=1319. General fishing regulations for the Snake River are available on page 81 of the 2013-14 Fish Washington sport fishing rules pamphlet that can be viewed and downloaded from http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/regulations/.

Other personal use fishing options in freshwater for chinook salmon currently are available in selected reaches of the lower Columbia, Yakima, Upper Skagit and Snohomish rivers together with certain rivers in Southwest Washington flowing into the Columbia as well as in several north ocean coast mainstream streams on the Olympic Peninsula.

Doug Huddle, the Bellingham Herald's outdoors correspondent, since 1983, has written a weekly fishing and hunting column that now appears Sundays. Read his blog and contact him at http://pbogs.bellinghamherald.com/outdoors.

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