After tense meeting, agencies to continue ‘load shaping’

AHSAKA — Officials from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bonneville Power Administration pledged this week to continue a voluntary halt to flow regimes from Dworshak Dam that mimic daily energy demand.

The agencies, however, would not commit to a long-term ban of the practice, known as load shaping or load following, during a tense meeting with salmon and steelhead managers Thursday.

The agencies employed the practice during the last week of January. Daily flows varied between 1,600 cubic feet per second and 9,700 cubic feet per second. Fisheries managers protested, saying the dramatic flow swings disrupted tribal and sport angling, could potentially harm emerging juvenile fall chinook, complicated hatchery operations and threatened to flush kokanee from Dworshak Reservoir. They submitted a formal request to the Corps and BPA asking the agencies to abstain from the practice.

That request was discussed during a Technical Management Team meeting, a regional forum of state, federal and tribal fish and water managers. Water and power managers from the Corps and BPA objected to the request as overly broad. They pledged to coordinate with the fish managers from state, tribal and federal agencies before implementing the practice but would not say what coordination meant or when and where it would happen.

Online event to look at water birds and spring migration

OLYMPIA — The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will highlight water birds and spring migration during an online, interactive event at 10 a.m. Saturday.

“As part of the Pacific Flyway, we are incredibly well located for those who want to enjoy the migration of waterfowl coming through the state. At this event we’re going to virtually take participants to three different sites to show people how they can experience water birds and waterfowl, plus the wetland habitat conservation partnerships that help make it possible,” said Kyle Spragens, waterfowl manager for the agency.

The department, Audubon, Ducks Unlimited and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are working together to visit world-class birding locations, including the Olympic Peninsula, the McNary National Wildlife Refuge near the Tri-Cities and the Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge, south of Cheney.

Participants may visit zoom.us/j/95133923218 at approximately 9:55 a.m. Saturday to take part.

A recording of the live event will be available on YouTube within a few days following the event.

Aerial bighorn sheep capture begins in the Yakima area

YAKIMA — The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has started two rounds of aerial bighorn sheep captures in an effort to control the spread of Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae, a pneumonialike illness that can devastate wild sheep herds.

The pathogen has been present in the herd for more than a decade and is likely transmitted by asymptomatic carriers, according to a news release from the agency. Similar situations in the past have required entire herds to be removed to avoid the risk of spread to other herds.

Captured sheep will be tested for the illness, and those identified as carriers will be removed from the herd. The process has been used successfully in herds that live in the Hells Canyon Region, including in the Asotin herds.

Annual salmon forecast meeting to be held next Friday

OLYMPIA — Fisheries managers with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife will hold the agency’s annual salmon forecast meeting from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. next Friday.

It is one of a dozen scheduled to be held online as part of the process to set salmon fishing seasons. Those interested in observing the meeting can obtain log-in information at bit.ly/3bgNIhj.

The agency will present initial forecasts derived by state and tribal fisheries biologists.

Shooting group to hold military rifle match Saturday in Lapwai

LAPWAI — The Lewis-Clark Wildlife Club will hold a Civilian Marksmanship Program-sanctioned M1 Garand and Modern Military Rifle match Saturday at its range along Tom Beall Road off of U.S. Highway 95.

Rifle examples include M1 Garand, 1903 Springfield, M1 carbine, M1A, AR15, AK47 and SKS. Signup starts at 9 a.m., and shooting starts at 9:30 and will last until about noon on the 18-bench side of the range. The entry fee is $20 per shooter.

More information is available by contacting club officials at the range today by calling (208) 843-2987 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

The six-bench portion of the range will be available for use by nonmatch shooters in the morning, with targets out to no more than 100 yards, and the entire range will be open to public shooting after noon.

Public welcome to attend meeting on fish passage rules

OLYMPIA — The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is working to create new rules surrounding fish passage and screening improvement work.

The public is invited to an online meeting from 1-2 p.m. Thursday, to learn more about the topic and provide input.

The rulemaking effort is rooted in recommendations from Gov. Jay Inslee’s Southern Resident Orca Task Force. The agency drafted the first version of rules for comment. More information is available at bit.ly/3dqOGdK. Log-in information for the meeting is available at bit.ly/2NELTm8.

People with limited internet access can call the agency’s habitat program at (360) 902-2534 to learn how to participate by phone and request print materials.