Grants support grassroots fish and wildlife projects

FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALDNovember 30, 2013 

Citizen-inspired fish and wildlife projects lacking either kick-start money have a potential source from which to draw.

A portion of the revenue produced annually by the state-owned tide lands is portioned out each year by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's ALEA (Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account) grant program to qualifying volunteer grassroots efforts.

WDFW officials say that for the 2014 grant year there will be about $258,000 to distribute.

The application period for 2014 ALEA grants runs from Sunday, Dec. 1 through Feb. 28.

Highly sought-after ALEA funds may partly underwrite or reimburse individuals or groups for certain costs of fish- or wildlife-related work in habitat, research, education/outreach, facility development or artificial production projects. Projects falling outside these key groupings can still be considered, however.

In past years, ALEA funds have paid for fish feed to raise winter run-steelhead smolts for release into the Nooksack or defrayed some costs of stream or waterfowl habitat restoration or enhancement work.

ALEA monies may not pay salaries, wages or stipends, nor are they likely to be awarded to projects that are not consistent with WDFW's general goals and objectives.

Projects proffered money are ones that encourage significant community involvement and commitment of many volunteer hours. Also, they're operated under a clear, unambiguous budget. Projects also must be poised to start immediately after state money is released with all necessary permits in hand as well as an organizational structure that ensures the work to be finished in the field season of the grant's term.

Funded activities also must either conserve and protect fish and wildlife or provide opportunities for public enjoyment of them.

A broad variety of causes and proponents from individuals, informal neighborhood collaborations and conservation groups to non-profit organizations, tribes, public and private educational institutions and public utility districts are encouraged to apply if they have ideas for efforts benefiting fish and wildlife that need money.

State and federal agencies may not receive ALEA funds.

Persons, groups and organizations can obtain application forms and information through at wdfw.wa.gov/grants/alea/. For an ALEA grant compact disc, call 360-902-2700 or e-mail alea@dfw.wa.gov.

PANELISTS SOUGHT

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking candidates for appointment to its Puget Sound Salmon Sportfishing Advisory Group.

As many as 15 of these applicants will be appointed to two-year stints on the panel, which meets up to four times a year. Its members also are expected to participate each March and April in the annual North of Falcon state/tribal negotiations process, during which the coming summer/fall salmon fishing seasons are hammered out.

Appointees should have broad experience and understanding of greater Puget Sound fresh- and saltwater recreational salmon fishing opportunities and the issues surrounding them. They'll participate in this committee's activities without compensation.

Any group or individual can submit a nomination, and self-nominations also are accepted. Nominees do not need to be affiliated with an organized group.

Nominations must include the candidate's address and telephone number as well as his or her affiliation, if any, plus the name, address and telephone number of the organization making a nomination. Also a concise but thorough summary of their background, experiences, references and reasons for wanting to serve must be included.

Submit a letter of interest and the resume by Saturday, Dec. 6 to Ryan.Lothrop@dfw.wa.gov or Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Attn: Ryan Lothrop, 600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA, 98501-1091. Lothrop also can be reached at 360-902-2808.

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

DECEMBER CALENDAR

Freshwater fishing: Angling for adipose clipped winter run steelhead kicks into high gear with the annual arrival. WDFW hatchery steelhead production programs operate on the four major North Puget Sound river systems including the Nooksack, Skagit, Stillaguamish and Snohomish. The Samish River and other smaller area streams no longer receive cultured origin fish, with some of their lower sections only open for the taking of stray hatchery steelhead. For smaller fare, the last of the hooligans might still be had in the lower Nooksack and whitefish are biting in the North Fork just after Thanksgiving.

Saltwater fishing: Marine Area 7 reopens on the first of December for the off-season blackmouth fishery targeting feeder chinook. All wild chinook must be released. Hatchery-bred keeper kings must be at least 22 inches long. Adjacent marine zones encompassing Skagit Bay and the east end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca also are open for salmon, but halibut, lingcod and the rockfishes are off-limits.

Late deer and elk: The late season options for muzzleloaders and archers are open in selected western Washington game management units and elsewhere around the state. Closing dates of these GMUs are staggered, so it's important to check first to make sure an intended hunt area is open and when it closes. Core Cascade foothills units including GMU 418 (Nooksack) are closed, but for deer there are considerable opportunities in GMUs 407, 410-17 and 437 depending on weapons choice. Primitive weapons users may kill either male or female animals, but check for gender/age restrictions.

Ducks and geese: Waterfowl hunting also ramps up in December, when ample amounts of foul fowling weather are added to the mix. Public lands for duck and goose pursuits are available on the Whatcom Wildlife Area's Terrell, Tennant, Nooksack and Alcoa/Intalco units and the Skagit Wildlife Area's Headquarters, Samish and Leque units to the south. Access to additional private farm lands for limited-entry 'quality' experiences in the two-county area can be had as well.

Upland birds: The 2013 hunt for forest grouse is in its last month and remains the key option now that most westside pheasant and quail opportunities have closed. Some Whidbey Island pheasant release sites stay open until Dec. 15 for residual ring-necks. Of the two grouse species here, ruffeds are the main quarry now that snow blankets the high-country inhabited by blues.

Crabbing: Plumbing, bobbing, dipping or snaring of Dungeness and red rock crabs remains open in most Washington inland waters through the end of December. Besides a basic fishing license, fall/winter catch record cards and a Puget Sound crab endorsement are needed on these outings. This season could close earlier if pressure and harvest rise, but it is penciled in to last until Dec. 31.

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