Squaxin Island Geoduck Test-Plot Progress

"Planted" Geoduck Tubes
Geoduck tubes were removed from small test-plots on Squaxin Island in early January.  These tubes were put in prior to planting to help protect the baby geoduck from predation.  Generally tubes are removed after approximately 1 year as the clams have dug deep enough to avoid most predators.  Many individuals from Squaxin Island Natural Resources were present and helped make this night of beachwork  go smoothly.  Thanks for all the help!
John Konovsky Pulling Tubes

John Konovsky Pulling Tubes


Scott Steltzner Pulling Tubes

Scott Steltzner Pulling Tubes

Eric Sparkman Discussing Clam Biology With Daniel Kuntz and Sarah Haque

Eric Sparkman Discussing Clam Biology With Daniel Kuntz and Sarah Haque

Private Tideland Digs In Hammersley Inlet

Figure 1.  Oakland Bay With Hammersley Inlet Private Tidelands Area Shown By Red Arrow
Figure 1. Oakland Bay With Hammersley Inlet Private Tidelands Area Shown By Red Arrow

During the summer of 2008 Squaxin Island Natural Resources Shellfish employees conducted shellfish population surveys on several privately owned tidelands in Hammersley Inlet (Figure 1).  This area had previously been closed to harvesting due to some form of pollution (see http://www.doh.wa.gov/ehp/sf/default.htm for more information on area closures).  The recently upgraded approved status allowed us to identify the area and determine if a commercial density of clams occurred in this area.


Figure 2.  Green And Red Shaded Areas Indicate Closure Areas For Oakland Bay and Hammersley Inlet www.doh.wa.gov

Figure 2. Green And Red Shaded Areas Indicate Closure Areas For Oakland Bay and Hammersley Inlet www.doh.wa.gov


Other private Tidelands fall within a pollution closure area and are not safe for commercial harvest and subsequent consumption (Figure 2).  This is why we can harvest clams from some beaches and not from others in this particular area. 

            Harvesting from private tidelands is different than harvesting from areas like Squaxin Island or state held beaches like “the Dikes” or “the Westside”.   While a lot of planning must go into all commercial clam harvests, planning a private tideland dig takes extra work.  In some cases we communicate and coordinate with growers that the tideland owner has hired to “manage” their beach.  Sometimes we coordinate the digs with the owner.  Either way, a lot of planning must go into the event to ensure that all parties are informed.  Squaxin Island Tribe has rights to half of all naturally occurring shellfish on these particular tidelands.  Our goal is to ensure that we harvest our treaty share, while maintaining good relations with homeowners and hired growers.  Private tideland digs are also different because we must treat each private tideland as a separate beach (Figure 3).  Each beach has defined boundaries (property lines), and each tideland has a different available biomass (amount of clams we can harvest). 

Figure 3.  Individual Tidelands Depicted By Yellow Shading
Figure 3. Individual Tidelands Depicted By Yellow Shading

 This is why it is so important that we only dig in certain areas (within marked boundaries) and only dig the predetermined amount of clams on each separate tideland.  Harvesting outside of these boundaries is something we do not want to do, as that action could lead to legal problems for the tribe and ultimately less revenue for the tribe and tribal members.

            Conducting treaty harvests on private tidelands has the potential to be a valuable asset to Squaxin Island Tribe.  As shellfish growing areas become approved within our Usual and Accustom area, we could potentially harvest our treaty share in those areas.  More clam resources equal more revenue for tribal members and that is something we are promoting through these clam digging opportunities.


’08 Squaxin Treaty Net Fishery in The Books, ’09 Fishery Planning Set to Begin

The Squaxin Net Fishery had its ups and downs in 2008.  Preseason forecast projected average Chinook returns, below average coho returns and a above average chum run.   Chinook returns to deep South Sound ended up being higher that projected with 10,777 adult Fall Chinook returning to Tumwater Falls Hatchery and Squaxin catch  of 10,400 Deschutes origin fish.  ’08 Forecast for Deschutes Fall Chinook was 13,400.  Squaxin Coho fishery resulted in a respectable 35,800 catch (excluding Carr Inlet), projected  Squaxin Net Pen forecast was 29K.   Chum catches, although seeing lower returns and closing the fishery to reach escapement for Totten, resulted in a 56K chum catch for 2008.  Escapement goals appear to be met in Eld, Totten, and Skookum Inlet watersheds.

2008 salmon market was favorable with peak prices for Chinook reaching $4 per pound, coho at $1.80 and chum $0.75.   Total number of licensed Squaxin Fishermen was 112.

With the ’08 season behind us brings the 2009 Preseason Fisheries planning.  Forecast begin to be shared by the end of January, with the North of Falcon process , salmon fishery negotiations between Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and Tribes,  in the following months.   At the end of April all of the 2009 Washington State Treaty and Non-Treaty fisheries will be  set.

2009 Deschutes Flood

Lower Deschutes Falls on January 8, 2009

The January Deschutes flood has some similarities and differences with the flood of record on January 9, 1990.  The total volumes of water moving through the system in 24 hours were similar, but the peaks and durations of the flood flows were quite distinct.

In 1990, the peak flow at Rainier was much higher (9,600 cfs) but the duration was shorter.  In 2009, the peak was lower (~6,850 cfs) but lasted longer.  The net result is the similarity in water volumes–the mean daily storm flow was 6,000 cfs in 1990 and ~5,600 cfs in 2009.

The 1990 storm was a very intense event that dumped alot of water over a relatively small area in a short period of time.  The situation was exacerbated by the inability of several old wooden culverts in the upper watershed to adequately pass the water.  When they eventually gave away, it sent a torrent of water down the valley at resulted in the highest peak flow in the nearly 60 years of record.

The 2009 storm was much more widespread and was more of a rain on snow event that lasted for a much longer period of time resulting in a longer duration of high water.  When the waters recede, we will survey the damage to fish and wildlife habitat.  Fisheries are still suffering from the sediment that entered the river in the 1990 storm.