Treaty Fishing on the Stillaguamish

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Jason Griffith, Sep 27, 2012.

  1. Greg Holt

    Greg Holt Active Member

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    To all with interest:

    There is a fairly recent study/report on the accumulating sediment load in the Stillaguamish river over the last several decades that should be must reading. I'm sure Jason is well aware of it. I don't have the link at my fingertips, but a search should turn it up.

    Disclosure: Nonscientific conjecture to follow--

    I've often wondered whether sediment load accumulation in a river bed is as natural a process as an alpine lake becoming a meadow over geologic time, but flood control structures in a river which prevent the river being able to "vomit" its sediment load onto the adjoining flood plain likely accelerate the sediment accumulation. In any case, it eventually overlays the spawning beds in low gradient sections of the river. Thus flood control and healthy spawning habitat may be at cross purposes in some systems.
     
  2. Tom O'Riley

    Tom O'Riley Member

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    Mike Kinney lives in Oso and is the right person for first hand info on whats happenig and for the local vibe. Try to get him involved
     
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  3. Jason Griffith

    Jason Griffith Active Member

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    Deer Creek is in the process of healing after decades of too much timber harvest. Flying over it last year I was struck by how well the USFS land is greening up, surprised even. The upper watershed is looking pretty good these days. The private and state lands are still probably harvested more than we would like, but they are buffering streams fairly adequately. The lower floodplain could use some armoring removal and tree planting, but we would need to acquire numerous properties along Deer Creek Rd. to make that happen.

    That is the thing with salmon restoration, it isn't cheap. When the land was settled by white folks like me, we did a good job of clearing and taming the landscape. Good for farmers, but not so good for fish as productive fish habitat is rarely conducive to modern land uses. So we are left with needing to acquire parcels along the river before we can remove armoring, houses, and roads and plant trees (we are about to close on 6000' of NF river frontage in the next month). So, to be honest, the best thing you can do for fish is to share the importance of habitat with your friends and relatives and contact your elected officials to stress the importance of salmon recovery. We sent men to the moon, and can surely save salmon if society is willing. However, right now, I'm not sure if society really cares that much. We have our work cut out for us, but we won't rest!

    That said, I will certainly let folks know if we have any opportunities for volunteers to help with restoration projects. The offer of help is much appreciated!
     
  4. Salmo_g

    Salmo_g Active Member

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    Jason, it's 98% landscape change and 2% climate change. There, I just saved you and EPA a bunch of grant money. Kidding, kinda'. If anything, an even more resilient landscape is necessary to absorb the effects of climate change on aquatic habitat. Unfortunately, society has already voted, and high quality lip service for habitat won hands down over conservation and restoration.

    Sg
     
  5. Andrew Lawrence

    Andrew Lawrence Active Member

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    Excellent response. Thanks!
     
  6. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    Deer Creek is a classic illustration of how long salmon recovery efforts take. The USFS placed a moratorium on logging on their lands (about 1/2 of the basin total) in the Deer Creek basin in 1984. It is good to hear that the basin is in the process of healing but clearly it will process that will stretch over many decades.

    Not sure if folks have a grasp of how much sediment was finding its way into Deer Creek at the worst. In the earl/mid-1980s when the Deforest slide was most active the amount of sediment was mind boggling. It was estimate that the Deforest Creek slide was supplying 1/2 of the sediment entering Deer Creek. At the peak of the Deforest Creek slide during 1983 and 1984 it would take 100 10 yard dump trucks dumping sediment in the creek every day for nearly two years to equal the amount coming off that single slide.

    The fact that the USFS opted to discontinue its logging in the basin show that if folks get involved they can make a difference. Anglers (primarily two folks - Bob Arnold and Alec Jackson) were a major force in bring that decision about. Those kinds of efforts are very time consuming and largely go unnoticed.

    Finally I have been struck the last couple years how much of the material have moved downstream. The North Fork of the Stillaguamish downstream of Deer Creek t o my eye has more usualable spawn gravel and spawning salmon than any time since the early 1980s. Even the magnitude of excessive bed load movement see from Deer Creek has a silver lining. As that material has made its way to the Sound a surprising amount of new estuarian habitat outside bay front dikes. In the last few decades a significant poriton of the historic acreage has been created outside those dikes.

    Jason -
    Thanks for joining us in these discussions - you have brought a lot to the table.

    curt
     
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  7. stilly stalker

    stilly stalker Tuna sniffer

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    Well, all the suitable gravel in places is great, but there are once beautiful runs between Oso and Cicero completely choked with silt. Salmon like chum can benefit from the downstream gravel, but for Deer creek fish its awful. As far as I know chum are the only mainstem spawners downstream of Deer creek, and their #s are in the toilet too. All the kings, steelhead, and Coho spawn higher in the watershed or in tributaries.
     
  8. Hillbilly Redneck

    Hillbilly Redneck wishin i was fishin

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    I saw chinook and pinks spawning this fall well below Deer Creek. Below Cicero actually.
     
  9. Andrew Lawrence

    Andrew Lawrence Active Member

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  10. stilly stalker

    stilly stalker Tuna sniffer

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    I forgot about the pinks. Im actually very suprised that there were chinook spawning so low in the system. Most I know of in the NF venture up well above deer creek to a section of river associated with another smaller, yet equally beautiful creek.
     
  11. Be Jofus G

    Be Jofus G Banned or Parked

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    So, if a private person decided he wanted to shift some investments into riverfront property... who would that person contact on your end to have one of your people evaluate the parcels and put together a restoration plan? Or is this a "we won't touch it unless it's tribal land" sort of thing?
     
  12. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

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    From Rocky Creek down into the North Fork Canyon (a distance of about 2 miles) I saw a total of 11 Chinook redds this fall. Pretty decent numbers for that low in the system and easily the most I have seen that part of the river in 30 years. Also saw a handful of even year pinks. I agree that the habitat in neither the North Fork below Deer Creek nor Deer Creek itself are what we all would hope to see but the fact remains it is improving.

    Andrew -
    Talk about a "blast from the past"!

    In the mid-1980s with Deer Creek summer steelhead numbers below 100 adults and juvenile numbers dropping every generation it was generally felt that they would be extinct by the year 2000. With at least 460 adults in the creek in 1994 and more than 1,000 in 1996 (remember finding more than 350 steelhead in a single pool) the fish proved all of us wrong! A true statement to the resiliency of the spieces.

    The Deer Creek fish were on the rebound until that abrupt down turn in marine survivals in the region. With the slow improvement in basin's habitat if we ever see a rebound in the marine survival we may actually see fsihing the "old timers" talk about.

    Curt
     
  13. FT

    FT Active Member

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    Curt,

    Thanks for mentioning Bob Arnold (who is a very good friend) and Alec Jackson. The two of them, as you know, put in loads of time to get something done about Deer Creek and the DeForest Creek slide. I strongly suspect that things would have gotten even worse if not for their efforts. Bob's writing ability and Alec's knowledge of forestryalong with their knowledge of the NF and Deer Creek fish helped immensely. I didn't live in WA State when they were doing this work (I was living in Montana), nor did I know them personally (like I got to once I moved to WA State in 1991); but I knew about the two of them and the work they were doing on behalf of the Deer Creek fish from things I was reading when I was living in Montana.

    Bob told me he never expected the kind of response he got from sportsfishers when he put together his first public meeting at the Oso firehouse. Bob also credits a USGS forester, you, and a tribal biologist with getting the forest service to halt logging in the upper Deer Creek watershed.

    And like you, I've noticed the NF having improved instream habitat with some of the sand, clay, and gravel getting moved with each flood or near flood. I also remember George McLeod telling me 15 years ago of the changes he has witnessed in the NF since he started fishing it with his father Ken as a youngster. I also remember having decent fishing in the 90's before the general steelhead crash occured.

    I look forward to imroved ocean conditions because when they do, I foresee a large increase in the number of Deer Creek fish.
     
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  14. Be Jofus G

    Be Jofus G Banned or Parked

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    BTW how much of that 6000' of shorline is going to be posted private property - no trespassing? How much of the funding for the purchase came from federal and state money going to the tribes? Who's name is on the deed?

    All I hear is more bullshit lip service. You've already had guys here volunteer to work or put together significant muscled work parties. Some of them I know and they come with heavy machinery and/or bankrolls. Some are just regular guys ready to put in some hard work days. You said you're always working on restoration projects to improve habitat as you said in one of your first posts..and when people say "hey, we'll help!" you come up with the same bullshit we hear from WDFW and the rest of the tribes. I admire you for jumping on the PR bandwagon and I would advise people in my network to do the same, but all I've heard so far is nothing but the same krap we've heard from other tribal and wdfw PR trolls here. I would love to believe you guys are ready to drop the BS and actually get to work on solving problems. Sounds like your upper management is as useless as a limp dick in a whorehouse just like ours and the rest of the tribes.

    And don't give me the boilerplate "it's very complicated" shit you guys like to spit out. It's not. It may be to you, but to some of us it's not. You'd be suprised at the brainpower with problem solving abilities floating around here. Larger problems have been solved by a less intelligent and motivated audience than you are talking to.
     
  15. Jason Rolfe

    Jason Rolfe Wanderer

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    Just out of curiosity, BJG, what larger problems have been solved by a less intelligent and motivated audience than us?