Outdoors

ALEA funds stake volunteer fish, wildlife projects

Volunteer citizen groups and individuals seeking money to start or complete funding packages for fish and wildlife projects have a potential source for part of the money they may need.

In a competitive process each year overseen by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife ALEA (Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account) funds are awarded to qualifying grassroots volunteer efforts.

WDFW officials say that for the 2015 grant year (funds for project work done after July 1, 2015) they expect to have between $1.1 and $1.3 million to allocate to variety of worthy works.

The 2015 ALEA grant application period runs from Sunday, Dec. 1, 2014 to Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015. Monies granted must be spent between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016.

ALEA funds may be used to reimburse individuals or groups for certain costs (mainly materials or equipment expenses) of fish — or wildlife — focused efforts falling into five main categories: habitat, research, education/outreach, facility development or artificial production. Projects outside these key groupings can still be considered but will rank below others in the core quintet.

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

Past projects here in Whatcom County for which ALEA monies have been awarded include buying fish food to raise winter run-steelhead smolts for release into the Nooksack (artificial production) and covering construction equipment costs for stream or wetland habitat improvements (habitat).

Matching privately sourced funds, in-kind donations of equipment, goods and services as well as robust contributions of volunteer labor demonstrate the breadth of community support and involvement as well as strengthen a proposal’s likelihood of being selected to get a grant.

By rule ALEA monies can’t pay salaries, wages or stipends. Projects that are not consistent with WDFW’s general goals and objectives also may not receive grants.

Projects that are awarded these funds are ones that:









Managers of selected projects must register their volunteers and report all hours they work. Quarterly summaries of progress must be filed and original receipts for qualifying expenditures must be submitted for reimbursement.

Many different 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 may apply if they have ideas for efforts benefitting fish and wildlife that need money.

State and federal agencies may not receive these ALEA funds.

Persons, groups and organizations can obtain more information on ALEA through WDFW’s Web portal at http://wdfw.wa.gov/grants/alea/. Other sources are detailed on the agency’s grants and incentives homepage.

ALEA applications are now submitted electronically via an interactive form on-line at the Web-portal www.alea.fluidreview.com. The deadline is Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015.

For a CD with ALEA grant application details and worksheets, call 360-902-2700 or e-mail alea@dfw.wa.gov.

CASCADE LIMIT RAISED

On the Cascade River, running through Monday, Feb. 15, recreational (personal use) anglers now may keep up to three hatchery-origin steelhead a day from waters at or downstream of Marblemount Hatchery.

Steelhead of hatchery-origin are recognizable by virtue of the absence of their adipose fin, which was clipped off before they were released as smolts. A healed bump will be present in its place.

The emergency rule raising the daily take applies only to the lower Cascade River from its mouth upstream to the Rockport-Cascade Road bridge (about a mile).

The bag limit increase, up from two hatchery fish a day, is being allowed because the state's fish production facility on the lower Cascade will not be spawning steelhead this year so all returning fish are considered available for harvest.

The Skagit steelhead program was ended also as a result of the out-of-court settlement of the Wild Fish Conservancy suit against the state fish and wildlife commission and agency director that asserted the state was operating hatchery programs in a steelhead and chinook recovery zone without federal ESA authorization.

In the remainder of the Skagit basin's reaches open under permanent regulations to steelheading, the two-fish-a-day bag limit remains.

EASTSIDE RING-NECKS

The whole of pheasant bearing lands east of the Cascades remains open to hunting during a general season that runs from Oct. 18 to Jan. 11. Scattered throughout four fish and wildlife department regions are more than 25 sites or complexes situated on public property such as Army Corp of Engineers lands where pheasants are regularly released.

Differing from the westside’s, the eastside limit is three roosters only a day to a maximum of 15 in possession. Another departure from with a 2014 small game license ($40.20) as the required documentation instead of a permit.

The Eastern Washington Pheasant Enhancement Program’s suite of sites is depicted in an on-line available catalogue at http://wdfw.wa.gov/publications/01644/wdfw01644.pdf.

Besides these sites, the department has negotiated with other real estate holders, through its Private Lands Access Program, for public pheasant hunting on more than 300,000 additional acres of agricultural and CRP lands.

Locations of the Feel-Free-To-Hunt, Register to Hunt and Hunt with Written Permission parcels and acreages across Eastern Washington can be found on the department’s interactive on-line trip planner GoHunt at http://wdfw.wa.gov/mapping/gohunt/. Be advised that you need certain Internet connection and browser capabilities to effectively work with the graphics on this Web-portal.

Washington hunting regulations protect eastside hen pheasants to conserve their breeding populations as well as spare other protected lookalike species. Upland bird hunters must be aware of the possible presence of native — and protected — desert (sage or sharp-tailed) grouse when hunting certain dry-land locales (farm or shrub-steppe habitat) such as those in northern Douglas County.

Several species of quail plus gray (Hungarian) and chukar partridge also are on the overall eastside’s hunting bill-of-fare well into mid-January.

With appropriate tribal agency hunting permits, it’s possible for non-members to hunt upland and some waterfowl birds on sections of the Colville Tribe’s reservation in the Okanogan as well as the Yakama Nation in the south central part of the state.

MORE LATE HUNTING

All three Whatcom Wildlife Area units previously involved in September-November ring-neck releases do remain open after the first of December for further web-footed bird, deer and small game hunting.

Waterfowling on the open water and wetlands at all three units (each has a blind or blinds at which to hunt) is allowed through the last week of January while deer are fair game for archers and muzzleloaders hunt through portions or all of December.

On the department’s Nooksack Unit east of the river between Marine Drive and Slater Road, the sharecrop corn harvest is complete and there is a fair amount of standing maize left south of Slater Road to sustain waterfowl.

Walk-in (north end) or boat-in (south end) accesses off the two aforementioned county roads are open, however there is no public access to the site allowed via Shady Lane on the east side off Rural Avenue.

Rabbit hunting lasts the longest of the remaining seasons. With the assistance of dogs, its season — for the low elevation cottontails here — closes Sunday, March 15.

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