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Have you checked out Fish First ? An all volunteer organization. Here is their mission statement.

The FishFirst mission statement: “More and better fish in the Lewis River System”, communicates that the organization is focussed on the quality and quantity issues of the species and the habitat. FishFirst has begun and will maintain a coalition of land owners, big business, small business, government groups, fisheries, fish enhancement groups, commercial fisherman, sports fisherman and other interested parties to bring back selected streams and ecosystems to their fullest potential possible for current and future generations. This is being done by targeting Federal, State, and local programs that match donated funds; targeting projects that augment existing Federal, State and local programs; and enhancing habitat through education and hands-on improvement and reclamation programs. FishFirst focuses on results through hands-on participation and very selective undertakings.
<font size="2" face="verdana,arial,helvetica">How about joining Southwest Washington Anglers

I will be emailing both groups to find out if they are involved in this process. If they aren't, they should be.

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There has been a lot of talk about the Lewis River now. After what happened on the Cowlitz River.

http://www.tribnet.com/sports/outdoors/story/3354657p-3385551c.html Or, read it below.

Some big changes are in store for anglers on the popular Cowlitz River in southwestern Washington, where fish managers are shifting from production of hatchery fish to production of wild fish.

It probably will mean less time on the river for anglers. But it won't happen soon.

"A lot of people don't realize how complicated fishery projects are on the Cowlitz," said Mark LaRiviere, senior fisheries biologist for Tacoma Power.

"You're dealing with four dams in the midbasin area, and populations of anadromous fish above and below the dams," he said. "The upper dam (Cowlitz Falls) belongs to the Lewis County Public Utility District. The three lower dams - Mayfield, Mossyrock and the barrier dam - belong to Tacoma Power."

All of the structures except the barrier dam, which prevents migrating fish from swimming upstream past the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery, produce hydroelectric power.

In exchange for the privilege of producing that power, the utilities must mitigate for damage their dams have caused to fish and wildlife.

As a part of the mitigation program, the utilities truck more adult fish around dams than does any other transportation program in the state.

The efforts of Tacoma Power and the Lewis County PUD are "additive," LaRiviere said. Their goal is to restore naturally spawning stocks of anadromous fish to the 240 miles of spawning habitat available in the upper Cowlitz River Basin, which includes all waters upstream of Mayfield Dam.

Aiding that effort is the fact that most of the fish already in the basin derived originally from local stocks, and only such fish are trucked above the dams.

When outmigrating smolts produced by those adults move toward the sea, workers capture them at two collection sites, one at Cowlitz Falls, a few miles above Riffe Lake, and the other at Mayfield Dam, at the lower end of Mayfield Lake.

Mayfield primarily collects smolts coming out of the Tilton drainage, which joins the Cowlitz near the upper end of Mayfield Lake, and Cowlitz Falls collects those from the Cowlitz drainage above Riffe Lake. Tacoma Power transports them downstream past the barrier dam to "stress-relief" ponds at the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery.

The PUD is trying to improve the efficiency of its collection facility at Cowlitz Falls, said Mike Kohn, a biologist who works for the utility and for the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). The BPA built the facility under an agreement with Lewis County at a cost of $18 million, completing it in 1997.

"A lot of the smolts we don't collect go through the turbines and end up in Riffe Lake and (become) landlocked," he said. "Our highest collection was 434,000 (of all species), in 2001. Had we collected 100 percent, it would have been over a million fish."

The utilities mark some of the outmigrating juveniles so when they return as adults, managers can determine whether they are hatchery fish and what to do with them.

"At the barrier dam, all returning adults are routed up the ladder into the (hatchery) separator," LaRiviere said. "Every single returning adult has to be examined and a decision has to be made what to do with that individual fish."

Each fish is returned to its area of origin.

"It's a huge amount of work," LaRiviere said, "in a year like last year, when we had a 125,000-fish return."

Tacoma Power began federal relicensing efforts in the mid-1990s, and reached a settlement agreement in 2000 with Lewis County, state and federal fisheries agencies, private fish-conservation groups and the Yakama Indian Tribe. The agreement wrought some fundamental goal shifts.

"The settlement agreement recognizes harvest as an important component on the Cowlitz," LaRiviere said. "It's just not the major goal. And therein lies the challenge for the future, because it's such a change from the past."

Formerly, production was primarily for harvest.

The agreement also establishes other goals, such as habitat and wildlife protection and a flow regime that accommodates recreational boaters, although those are not stated as explicitly as the goals of fish restoration and harvest, LaRiviere said.

As a part of an evolving fish-management philosophy, Tacoma Power plans to honor "the spirit of reform" in Washington hatchery management, he said, by incorporating new rearing methods for a part of its production. Those will include lower densities of fish in the hatcheries and efforts to mimic the size and timing of naturally produced smolts.

The utilities also intend to foster what LaRiviere calls "volitional passage" of fish upstream and down.

The licensing agreement requires Tacoma Power to determine whether fish can "self-sort" correctly to the Cowlitz, to the Tilton and to the hatchery for spawning.

If they can, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will decide at year 14 of the license whether to require the utility to spend the $15 million it was required to set aside for enhancing fish passage at the barrier dam and Mayfield Dam.

Enhancements would consist of constructing a fish ladder at Mayfield and building a fish ladder at the barrier dam or removing the barrier dam. Fish would be able to swim upstream unassisted as far as Mossyrock Dam, which would continue to be impassable.

"This would allow fish to pass the hatcheries, pass over Mayfield and go up the Tilton if they chose," LaRiviere said. "If they chose not to, they would go up the Cowlitz arm and end up at the base of Mossyrock Dam. There's no way to construct a way over that. So it would be a repeat of the upstream transportation program for fish headed for the upper basin" of the Cowlitz.

The result?

"All this work is hopefully going to increase the naturally produced fish in the Cowlitz River," LaRiviere said. "Concurrent with that, there will be a reduction in fish produced out of the hatcheries.

"The goal would be no net reduction in total numbers of fish," he said, "but we recognize they would be a different kind of fish. If we're producing natural or wild fish out of the Cowlitz River Basin, those fish won't be available for harvest. So that's where lies a very large change."

Selective fishing for hatchery fish would allow some angling, LaRiviere said, and if managers can develop a strong enough run of natural fish, some of those also could be harvested.

"But in order to get to that point it might take some pretty severe harvest restrictions," he said.

Unnoticed by many South Sound residents, two public power utilities move hundreds of tons of anadromous fish upstream and down each year on Lewis County's Cowlitz River, hauling them about 40 miles by truck past otherwise impassable hydroelectric dams.

The downstream movement is of smolts. The upstream movement is of returning adults.

While the primary goal of the effort is to establish runs of naturally producing steelhead and salmon above the dams, a secondary goal is to boost the quality of sport fishing in the upper watershed. In this, the utilities have been notably successful.

"We haul fish upstream year-round, every week of the year," said Mark LaRiviere, senior fisheries biologist for Tacoma Power. "At some times of the year every day, and at the peak of the season several times a day."

These consist of spring chinook salmon, fall chinook, coho salmon and winter-run steelhead. Some of them are hatchery fish and some are naturally produced.

"In 2002, almost 2,000 spring chinook adults went into the upper Cowlitz," LaRiviere said. "Fall chinook, we put over 6,000 upstream above Mayfield (Dam), and most of them went into the upper Cowlitz above Cowlitz Falls Dam. Coho, over 80,000 adults.

"This fall, the projection is for double last year."

The utilities - Tacoma Power and the Lewis County Public Utility District - also moved 4,500 steelhead past Mayfield Dam and into various sub basins of the upper Cowlitz watershed, and three out of the four release sites have public access for anglers, LaRiviere said.

"On the Tilton River system it's Gust Backstrom Park in the city of Morton," he said. "On the upper Cowlitz, a majority are released into Lake Scanewa at the Lewis County Public Utility District day-use site. At times ... we release some directly into the Cispus River above Yellowjacket Creek, on U.S. Forest Service land."

Last winter, the utility also released about 300 adult steelhead or salmon a week into the upper Cowlitz at Packwood, near the Skate Creek Bridge.

Most of the releases occur on Lake Scanewa, LaRiviere said, to allow the fish to "self-select" which sub basin they will go into - either the Cispus or the upper Cowlitz.

"There's been quite a fishery that's developed right at Lake Scanewa," he said. "Some of the guides have even moved up ... and guide clients right on the lake. At the peak of the season, in the fall, we're running six trucks a day into Lake Scanewa."

The fish are primarily coho, but the lake also receives steelhead and chinook.

It makes for a long fishing season. Coho run on the Cowlitz from late August to mid-February, LaRiviere said, sometimes even to early March.

Other angling opportunities also present themselves.

"We have an obligation for 50,000 pounds of resident trout through 2004," he said.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife rears the resident fish at its Mossyrock Hatchery and in net pens in Mayfield Lake, and they go primarily into Mayfield Lake.

"That's not our only resident-fishery program, that's just our largest planting," LaRiviere said. "Riffe Lake has been known for years for its good resident fishery. This spring, it's been excellent on resident coho."

The coho come from the upper basin and residualize in the lake, he said, where they grow to about 16 inches. Some steelhead and cutthroat trout also live there. Best fishing there is in May and June, and Tacoma Power maintains several access areas on the lake for fishermen.

The upper watershed is not the only place to find good fishing. The summer-run steelhead fishery in the lower river, below the state salmon hatchery barrier dam, is outstanding, LaRiviere said.

"What you've got below the barrier dam is 30 miles of flowing river just the way it was when Lewis and Clark were here," he said.

The summer-run fish are not indigenous to the Cowlitz, he said. So while managers will emphasize their production - they will confine them to the lower part of the river.

Not so for winter-run hatchery fish. They are likely to be "constrained or even eliminated," LaRiviere said, because the hatchery strain of the winter fish is not native to the Cowlitz, and managers are concerned they conflict with the native late-winter steelhead that return January through May, peaking in February.

Such a change would be several years away, but - if winter hatchery fish are eliminated - would greatly reduce sport fishing during a part of the winter, even though a hatchery component of the late-winter fish would be available for harvest.

"And the sea-run cutthroat program in the lower river, based out of the hatchery, is huge," LaRiviere said. "It's the only sea-run hatchery program left in Washington. Last fall we had 22,000 of them return to the Cowlitz Trout Hatchery."

Mike Kohn is a biologist who works for the Lewis County Public Utility District and the Bonneville Power Administration. The Lewis County PUD operates a facility about 100 yards below Cowlitz Falls that he describes as "an $18 million trap.

"It's a huge facility," Kohn said. "It's got a collection gate, flume system, separators. It's a volitional trapping system, where they're enticed by attraction flows into four gates."

Cowlitz Falls is the uppermost dam on the river, which the public utility district operates. Tacoma Power operates the three lower dams - Mayfield, Mossyrock and the barrier dam. Mayfield and Mossyrock, like Cowlitz Falls, produce hydroelectric power. The barrier dam prevents fish from moving upstream of their own accord past the utility's Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery.

Workers at Cowlitz Falls check downstream fish for fin clips, to get a handle on survival rates.

"With steelhead, if they have an adipose fin (intact) or have a right ventral (fin) clip, then we know they're ours," Kohn said.

Those with all fins intact were produced by natural spawning upstream or were released upstream as fry, and are intended for natural spawning themselves. Those with a ventral clip are intended for catching in the sport fishery.

The utility releases the fin-clipped fish as pre-smolts four to six weeks before they begin their journey to salt water, to give them a chance to imprint on the upper river. Anglers will catch some as returning adults, others will spawn naturally.

Managers usually release steelhead fry in September, and chinook fry from March through May.

"We used to do coho fry releases also," Kohn said, "but we have so much natural production now, we don't have to do it."

The public utility district also provides about 25,000 resident rainbow trout per year - which it buys from a private producer - for a put-and-take recreational fishery in Lake Scanewa that usually starts on June 1.

Perhaps the biggest impact the utility has on sport fishing is through the transportation upstream of returning adult coho salmon, Kohn said.

Close to nine out of 10 are adipose-clipped, he said, identifying them as hatchery-produced and in addition to those that resulted from natural spawning.

"It creates one great fall fishery, starting in October," he said.

Are they a potential threat to naturally produced fish by possibly interbreeding?

No, because both hatchery-produced and naturally produced coho in the Cowlitz come from the same genetic stock, Kohn said. And the hatchery fish provide not only sportfishing opportunity, but also important nutrients to the watershed when they die after spawning and decompose.

"The whole ecosystem is better off because of those fish being up there," he said.


This here is from cowlitzfisherman at piscatorialpursuits.comI e-mailed him and asked him if I could post this hear and he said sure, go for it.

Well now that the cat is out of the bag about how we all have gotten screwed on the Cowlitz River Settlement Agreement, and everybody now knows that the hatchery production of "harvestable fish" has been cut way back, where will "you go" to harvest your next fish?

Will it be the "Lewis River". . . I don't think so!

That is the next biggest hatchery producer, other then the Cowlitz that fishermen have been used to count on for their harvest opportunity of hatchery fish.

Do you fishermen know that the Lewis is going through a "relicensing process" just as the Cowlitz has done in 2000?

Many, if not all, none- governmental organizations and the State and Federal agencies are the same people, and organizations who had created the "doomsday" Settlement Agreement for the Cowlitz River. They are also the same people who will be drafting the fishery "Settlement Agreement" for the Lewis River! The deals are coming down now that in all likelihood will make the Lewis River Settlement a carbon copy of the Cowlitz Settlement Agreement when it comes to "hatchery production" and harvest.

Are all of you fishermen willing to accept the same screwed up kind of settlement agreement that we got stuck with on the Cowlitz? If not, you better bust your butts now because they are talking settlement soon! American Rivers and TU will surely be the major non governmental players who will claim to represent the interests of the fishermen once again.

If you do not believe that these groups represent you, or you're fishing interests, you better start complaining "yesterday"! You can start now by emailing your complaints and concerns to "Stofiel, Veronica" [email protected]

Tell her that you are not happy with the Settlement that was done on the Cowlitz and that you want to make sure that the Lewis is not handled in the same way!

If you need more information and you need the State and Federal peoples email and names, just make your request on this thread, and I will try to give you the names and emails that I have access to.

You can go read the rest of it at piscatorial pursuits.

I'm still learning about this. I would hate for them to mess up the Lewis River system now. Anyone know what to do to stop this?

Some of you don't have any ideas on what happend to the Cowlitz river, well heres to sum it up for you. LOT less if any hatchery fish.
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