Yakima Basin Fish & Wildlife Recovery Board News & Announcements
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July 8 - Technical Advisory Group Meeting

July 17 - Cle Elum Hatchery Open House

July 23 - Citizen's Committee Meeting

Aug 6 - YBFWRB Board Meeting

Sept 15-17 - Salvelinus confluentus Curiosity Society Meeting

Calendar >>

June 2 - U.S. floats conservation measures for threatened bull trout 

June 2 - Federal bull trout recovery plan ready for public review

June 3 - Water and Climate Change: Solutions on the Yakima River

June 4 - Federal officials propose plan to aid bull trout

June 8 - Washington climatologist already foresees warm winter

June 8 - Bracing for new normal

June 12 - KID has first cut in Yakima River water

June 17 - Why can't KID access Columbia River water?

June 20 - Federal agencies spent over $700 million on habitat restoration

June 24 - Groups clash in court over Columbia Basin salmon plan


YBFWRB Board Meeting - August 6
Our board meetings are always open to the public - please RSVP to Heather if you plan to attend.  The next meeting will be held at the Swauk-Teanaway Grange in Cle Elum on Thursday, August 6 from 2:00 - 4:00 p.m. preceded by a tour of projects in the Teanaway led by WDFW and DNR.  If you would like to join the tour and lunch, please meet at the grange at 10:00 a.m. 

Project Highlight - Wilson and Naneum 

Kittitas County is leading the charge on a much needed effort to figure out how to address floods, infrastructure, fish habitat needs, and irrigation in streams and ditches north and east of Ellensburg. By looking at a map of the project area, it is easy to see the maze of streams from the headwaters down to the City of Ellensburg, then on to the Yakima River. Intertwined with the streams are irrigation canals, ditches, and critical road infrastructure. Finding a route to target for upstream and downstream passage of steelhead, spring chinook, coho, and rainbow trout has been a challenge that groups have tried to address for years.

Providing fish passage into the Naneum headwaters is a significant opportunity as there are approximately 40 miles of high-quality perennial stream above the mouth of Naneum Canyon.  Further east, Cooke Creek and Caribou Creek include 20 miles of perennial streams.  Although these are smaller streams and smaller watersheds, they also present good opportunities to increase available habitat.  All of the streams in the watershed offer opportunities for rearing in the lower reaches. Possible projects in all these areas need to be inventoried and prioritized in order to make the best use of funding and time.
Installing a stream gage on Wilson Creek at the Naneum-Wilson split
Using a Salmon Recovery Funding Board grant, Kittitas County recently began a flood hazard and habitat assessment of the Naneum, Wilson, and Cherry Creek watersheds. This is the first phase in producing a watershed plan that will be used to guide future projects to improve irrigation reliability, reduce the impact of irrigation facilities on streams, reduce flood hazards, improve water quality, and improve fish passage, use and productivity within the three watersheds. 

The purpose of Phase 1 is to develop a baseline understanding of the existing condition of each stream as it relates to flooding, fish, irrigation, and water quality in order to plan and prioritize future projects. The estimated schedule for Phase 1 is approximately 2.5 years - with completion by November 2016.
Because most of the land within the watershed is privately owned, landowner participation and input is critical. All landowners that choose to participate will be part of the Landowner Advisory Group. Landowners can participate by attending meetings, reviewing website updates, and providing information. A meeting schedule and public participation plan is under development and information will be sent to all landowners and creek water users this winter.  If you would like to participate, contact Christina Wollman, Floodplain Manager with the Kittitas County Department of Public Works at 509.962.7051 or

Kittitas County Flood Control Zone District is the lead agency and will manage the project. The Kittitas County Conservation District (KCCD) will support the project and focus on stream assessments and irrigation efficiencies. Funding for the project is provided by the Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board (SRFB), the Kittitas County Flood Control Zone District (FCZD), and in-kind services and funding by KCCD, the United States Bureau of Reclamation-Yakima River Basin Water Enhancement Project (USBR), and the Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group (MCFEG). Additional support will be provided by Washington Water Trust.

Kittitas County Public Works recognizes the complexity and challenges associate with this multi-phased, inter-disciplinary approach to gather data and identify all of the issues and common goals for managing the resource, but they also recognize the significant public benefit can be realized once this effort is complete.

A Different Kind of Record Year

We’ve been spoiled by several years of record fish runs, but this year is breaking different kinds of records- for low flows and hot temperatures! It’s the first real drought in a decade, and it’s putting real stresses on both agriculture and fish. The Yakima River above Union Gap still has plenty of flow thanks to the need to deliver irrigation water from upstream reservoirs. It’s a different story below in the mainstem below Union Gap, in the Naches, and in our tributaries- all of which are running at a third or less of average for this time of year. While the Naches and the Yakima River above Union Gap have stayed in the 60s- decent temperatures for salmon and trout- down near Benton City at the Kiona gage, the river has gotten as warm as 84 degrees!

This year the key to survival for smolts headed for the ocean was to get out early. For juveniles spending the summer in the Yakima and headed to the ocean in future years, the story is mixed- there’ll probably be advantages to moving up higher in tributaries or down into the mainstem above Union Gap, but there should be refugia in most parts of the basin. To know how they fare, we’ll have to wait and see how the smolt outmigrations add up in the next two years.

Adult steelhead and salmon coming back in the next months can wait in the cooler Columbia before moving upstream. The biggest question will be how the newly restablished sockeye run fares: do they wait till cooler temperatures in later August or September to come up the Yakima, or can they try to dart up in cooler days during the summer? The sockeye run is coming over Bonneville right now and working up the Columbia, so we should start to see how that plays out over the next few weeks…

If it's hot today, what will 2080 be like?

Want to know how hot your favorite stream might be in 2080 based on current climate change predictions? The USDA Rocky Mountain Research Station’s NorWeST project has pulled together existing stream temperature data, maps, GIS layers and more showing current stream temperatures and projected 2040 and 2080 temperatures. It’s a great resource for stream temperature info, past present and future. Hopefully, data like this can help us figure out how our habitat protection and restoration efforts can sustain our cold-water fish populations into the future.

Handy Mapping Tool

Want to understand what an area you’re talking about looks like quickly, without booting up ArcMap? Looking for a real topo map? I was recently introduced to Acme Mapper and have found it to be my new go-to tool when wondering what a project area or stream looks like. There’s a Satellite view with good aerial imagery, but you can also click on the Map view and check “Terrain” to get a great hillshade, or click on Topo to see the actual USGS topographic map, with the section numbers, place names and all the rest it can be hard to find in google maps. While it doesn’t replace a GIS program, I’ve been surprised how much I’ve used it to scout things out. Here’s an example- see how this big old landslide across Oak Creek just pops out in the hillshade?
Copyright © 2015 Yakima Basin Fish and Wildlife Recovery Board, All rights reserved.

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