Tulalips, Forterra to preserve land near Wallace River for salmon


By Chris Winters, The Herald

GOLD BAR — A 1.25-mile stretch of forested land along the Wallace River will now be protected forever as salmon habitat.

The land, covering 121 acres on five parcels, was purchased by the environmental nonprofit Forterra in July for $490,000. Forterra, formerly known as the Cascade Land Conservancy, transferred the property to the Tulalip Tribes in November for future management.

A conservation easement ensures the property will never be developed.

“There’s a stewardship plan that we’ll be working on with the Tulalips” to maintain the tract’s value to the watershed, said Michelle Connor, Forterra’s executive vice president of strategic enterprises.

The property on the north bank of the Wallace River consists of five parcels that are a mix of wetlands and mature second-growth forests. It was last logged several decades ago.

“The trees have grown back nicely and the land is actually in pretty good shape,” said Daryl Williams, the Tulalip Tribes’ natural resources liaison.

The tract is located just west of Gold Bar and close to the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, the Wild Sky Wilderness and other protected lands managed by the state Department of Natural Resources.

The land lies across the Wallace River from a state salmon hatchery, and provides habitat for bull trout as well as four types of salmon: chinook, coho, pink and chum. The land is also home to black bear, elk, deer and beaver.

Williams said the land is likely to remain in its present state, as it already provides ideal habitat for fish in the water as well as for land mammals.

“Right now we don’t have any money to do anything with the property,” Williams said. “Perhaps we’ll thin some of the trees to allow some of the others to grow faster.”

The deal came together when Forterra learned the owner of the parcels, a property investment firm called Robinett Holdings, soon would put them up for sale, Connor said.

“When we first learned the property was coming on the market, we contacted the Tulalip Tribes to see if (the land) would be conservationally significant,” Connor said.

That turned out to be the case, she said.

“The property itself has historical oxbows and natural features that in and of themselves are very, very important,” she said.

It also fit in with the Tulalips’ efforts to restore the watersheds associated with the Snohomish, Skykomish and Snoqualmie rivers.

“We’ve been spending a lot of time and effort trying to restore areas on the watershed,” Williams said.

“With new development and redevelopment, we’re losing habitat faster than we’re replacing it,” he said. “We need to do a better job with what we have.”

The deal marks the second large habitat protection project the Tulalips have undertaken. Last year the tribes breached the levees and restored tidal influence to the Qwuloolt Estuary in Marysville. The 315-acre tract took 20 years to convert from farmland to a salt marsh and cost nearly $20 million.

The transfer of the Wallace River tract is also consistent with Forterra’s goals in working with local Native American tribes on preservation, Connor said.

Last year Forterra carried out a similar property transfer with the Makah Tribe involving 240 acres near Lake Ozette on the Olympic Peninsula that is considered critical salmon habitat.

“We see that repatriation of indigenous lands is an important part of our conservation mission,” Connor said.

Snohomish County was the primary provider of funds for the land purchase and transfer, providing $280,000 in Conservation Futures funds toward the purchase, and toward other costs associated with obtaining the conservation easements and transferring the property to the tribes.

County Parks Director Tom Teigen said the Conservation Futures Advisory Board often tries to strike a balance between acquiring land for active recreation, agriculture and habitat preservation, but this particular exchange stood out for its potential benefits to salmon.

“At the end of the day, preserving that property and getting that much acreage as well as the riverfront is significant,” Teigen said.

Forterra also received $250,000 from the state Recreation and Conservation Office toward the property purchase.

Tulalip turning tide on diminishing salmon


 KING5 News


It has been 100 years since water flowed in this now former farmland along Ebey Slough. The place is unrecognizable from what it was just four months ago.

“A lot of things are going to change really fast in here,” said Todd Zackey, as he and a team of researchers from the Tulalip Tribes navigated the waters Monday.

In August, the Tulalip, along NOAA and Snohomish County breached a levee along the slough, flooding the land and returning its natural state.

Now, researchers are casting nets into the water to see what fish are showing up. The goal is to create a salmon spawning habitat to help in increase their numbers around Puget Sound.


Researchers are casting nets into the Ebey Slough to see what fish are showing up.(Photo: Eric Wilkinson / KING)

Researchers are casting nets into the Ebey Slough to see what fish are showing up.
(Photo: Eric Wilkinson / KING)


Right now, though, there are far more questions than answers.

“Can we punch a hole in the dike and have the salmon respond in a positive way?” asked researcher Matt Pouley. “Are we going to see a population response over a reasonable amount of time?”

So far only a few salmon have been spotted, but that’s to be expected for this time of the year. There are plenty of other fish, though, and that’s a good sign.

No one is in a hurry. This is a long term project. It will likely take a century for full restoration of these waters.

And this project is about more than strengthening the fish supply. It’s about a way of life that goes back thousands of years for the Tulalip, and preserving that tradition for generations to come.

“The tribe is, in essence, losing part of its culture,” said Zackey. “Restoring salmon is restoring the culture of the tribe.”

U.S. Should Honor Billy Frank’s Dream

Being Frank”


By Lorraine Loomis, Chair Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission


Billy Frank Jr., longtime chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, received many awards during his life and continues to be honored since his passing in 2014.

His life was celebrated last month when President Barack Obama posthumously awarded him the Medal of Freedom. It is the nation’s highest civilian award.

Billy would have been delighted to receive the medal, but even more delighted by the attention that such an award can bring to the issues he fought for every day: protection of tribal cultures, treaty rights and natural resources.

We hope the United States will honor not only Billy’s life, but also his dream, by taking action on the Treaty Rights at Risk initiative that was the focus of his efforts for the final four years of his life.

Salmon recovery efforts cross many federal, state and local jurisdictions, but leadership is lacking to implement recovery consistently across those lines. Billy believed that the federal government has a duty to step in and lead a more coordinated and effective salmon recovery effort. The federal government has both the legal and trust responsibility to honor our treaties and recover the salmon resource.

That’s why he called on tribal leadership to bring the Treaty Rights at Risk initiative to the White House in 2011. It is a call to action for the federal government to ensure that the promises made in the treaties are honored and that our treaty-reserved resources remain available for harvest.

Tribal cultures and economies in western Washington depend on salmon. But salmon are in a spiral to extinction because their habitat is being lost faster than it can be restored.

Some tribes have lost even their most basic ceremonial and subsistence fisheries – the cornerstone of tribal life. Four species of salmon in western Washington are listed as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act, some of them for more than a decade.

“As the salmon disappear, so do our tribal cultures and treaty rights. We are at a crossroads, and we are running out of time,” Billy wrote not long before his passing.

Over the past four years under the Treaty Rights at Risk initiative, we have met often with federal agency officials and others to work toward a coordinated set of salmon recovery goals and objectives. Progress has been slow, and at times discouraging, but we remain optimistic.

An important goal is to institutionalize the Treaty Rights at Risk initiative in the federal government through the White House Council on Native American Affairs, created by President Obama in 2013.

Economic development, health care, tribal justice systems, education and tribal natural resources are the five pillars of the council. With one exception – natural resources – subgroups have been created for each pillar to help frame the issues and begin work.

That needs to change. A natural resources subgroup is absolutely essential to address the needs of Indian people and the natural resources on which we depend. A natural resources subgroup would provide an avenue for tribes nationally to address the protection and management of the natural resources critical to their rights, cultures and economies.

We are running out of time to recover salmon and we are running out of time for the Obama Administration to provide lasting and meaningful protection of tribal rights and resources. Recent meetings with federal officials have been encouraging. We are hopeful that the natural resources subgroup will be created in the coming year.

The creation of a natural resources subgroup for the White House Council on Native American Affairs would truly be a high honor that the United States could bestow on Billy’s legacy.

State Again Tries to Deny Tribal Treaty Rights



Source: Northwest Treaty Tribes


Once again denying tribal treaty-reserved fishing rights – and the many federal court rulings that have consistently upheld those rights – the state of Washington is appealing its latest defeat in a case brought by western Washington tribes in 2001 to force repair of hundreds of salmon-blocking culverts under state roads.

Oral arguments for the appeal will be heard tomorrow, October 16 in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Seattle. The appeal stems from a 2013 ruling by Judge Ricardo Martinez, who issued a permanent injunction requiring the state to repair more than 800 state-owned fish-blocking culverts over the next 15 years. Also at issue is a 2007 decision in favor of the tribes in which Martinez ruled the state’s obligation to fix culverts stems from the treaty right to take fish. The tribes, state, and federal government tried for several years to settle the case, but were unable to reach agreement.

“Our treaty-reserved right to harvest salmon includes the right to have those salmon protected so that they are available for harvest, not only by the tribes, but by everyone,” said Lorraine Loomis, chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission. “Our treaty rights are at risk because we are losing salmon habitat faster than it can be restored. Without habitat, we have no fish. If we have no fish, we have lost our treaty right, and our culture and economies will be destroyed.”

Tribes reserved the right to harvest salmon in treaties with the United States government more than 150 years ago, in exchange for which the tribes ceded the vast majority of their homeland to allow non-Indian settlement. The treaty fishing right was upheld in U.S. v. Washington, the 1974 ruling that recognized the tribal right to half of the harvestable salmon returning to state waters and established the tribes as co-managers of the resource with the state.

In great part due to loss of habitat, salmon populations have rapidly and continually declined for the past several decades. As a result, both Indian and non-Indian fishermen have suffered from greatly reduced harvests. “We all stand to lose if we cannot protect the salmon’s habitat,” said Loomis. “We were disappointed by the state’s choice to appeal the district court’s decision, especially when restoring salmon benefits Indians and non-Indians alike.”

Blocking culverts deny salmon access to over a thousand miles of good habitat in western Washington streams, affecting the fish in all stages of their life cycle and reducing the number of adult salmon returning to the state by hundreds of thousands of fish. State agencies have consistently told the Legislature that fixing problem culverts is a scientifically sound, cost effective method for increasing natural salmon production. Even so, the state’s sluggish rate of culvert repair meant it would have taken more than 100 years to fix known blocking culverts even as salmon populations continued to decline throughout western Washington.

The injunction forces the state to accelerate the pace of repairs to blocking culverts. Over the past two years, the state agencies have been cooperative in working with the tribes, Loomis said. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, State Parks and Department of Natural Resources have made good progress toward correcting the existing fish blocking culverts, which the injunction requires be fixed by next year. The Washington Department of Transportation is responsible for the majority of failing culverts, which the injunction requires be corrected by 2030. WSDOT’s correction rate is still far too slow, but the Tribes are encouraged by the agency’s recent efforts to re-prioritize funding to bolster culvert corrections and the state Legislature’s increased funding to the agency. Repairs will be funded through the state’s separate transportation budget and will not come at the expense of education or other social services.

The 20 treaty Indian tribes in western Washington always prefer to collaborate rather than litigate to restore and protect salmon and their habitat, Loomis said. “But the state’s unwillingness to work together and solve the problems of these salmon-blocking culverts in a timely manner left us with no alternative except the courts. We hope the Ninth Circuit will fully uphold the district court ruling and that we can move beyond litigation to work cooperatively with the State to protect the salmon resource,” she said.

Low levels of oil pollution harm herring, salmon, study finds

Researchers find oil can harm herring and salmon at much lower levels than once thought. The work raises questions about Puget Sound pollution.


By  Hal Bernton, Seattle Times 

Federal scientists based in Seattle and Alaska have found that oil — by impairing heart functions — can cause serious harm to herring and pink salmon at far lower concentrations than previously documented.

The research, published Tuesday online in Nature’s Scientific Reports, could help unravel the mystery of why herring stocks in Prince William Sound collapsed after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. Their work also has implications about the effects of low levels of chronic oil pollution in Puget Sound and elsewhere in the world.

“What this study shows is that in very, very low concentration of oil, embryonic fish … get born with a mild heart defect,” said John Incardona, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration toxicologist at a Seattle fisheries science center. He is one of 10 co-authors of the study.

Those fish may look OK on the outside, but the heart defect makes them less fit, so they can’t swim as fast. They may succumb to predators at higher rates than other fish and may be more vulnerable to infections, according to Incardona.

The findings reflect years of studies that explored the effects of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, compounds released by crude oil spills, but also contained in many other forms of fossil-fuel pollution such as tailpipe emissions from Puget Sound motorists that condense and are carried into the water by runoff.

The research examined the effects on fast-growing zebrafish, and then replicated the heart damage in more complex experiments that exposed embryonic herring and pink salmon to oil.

The researchers found that oil’s effects are greatest in cold-water environments, where fish embryos are less able to metabolize the pollutants. And herring, with much smaller eggs than the pink salmon, suffered the most severe effects from the polycyclic aromatics.

In the aftermath of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill that dumped nearly 11 million gallons of crude in Prince William Sound, Alaska became the first — and so far only state — to create a water-pollution limit for the polycyclic aromatics, according to Incardona.

That Alaska state limit is 10 parts per billion, but the researchers found herring embryos could be affected at levels 10 to 50 times lower than that. At those levels, herring that returned to spawn in Prince William Sound in 1989 as well as subsequent years could have produced offsprings with damaged hearts.

Those offspring would have hatched, but few may have survived long enough to reach spawning age. That could be a big reason spawning stocks of Prince William Sound herring crashed four years after the 1989 spill.

“The thresholds for developmental cardiotoxicity were remarkably low, suggesting that the scale of the Exxon Valdez impact in shoreline spawning habitats was much greater than previously appreciated,” the researchers wrote.

In the more than quarter century since the Exxon Valdez spill, Prince William Sound herring stocks have failed to recover even as oil pollution has declined to levels unlikely to affect them.

The study published Tuesday does not try to explain the herrings’ current problems, although Incardona says once fish stocks get knocked to a very low level, recovery can be very difficult.

The situation is very different in Puget Sound, which has the highest levels of polycyclic aromatics of any estuary due to ongoing chronic pollution, according to Incardona. The Puget Sound levels are not that far below those found to have effects in the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez, and raise questions about whether this pollution is harming Puget Sound’s struggling herring stocks.

Incardona, who said that federal researchers hope to work with Washington state biologists to try to answer that question.

As salmon vanish in the dry Pacific Northwest, so does Native heritage

By Darryl Fears, Washington Post 


Young salmon called "smolts" are loaded into a floating net suspended on a barge at Mare Island, Calif. (Rich Pedroncelli/AP)

Young salmon called “smolts” are loaded into a floating net suspended on a barge at Mare Island, Calif. (Rich Pedroncelli/AP)


As a drought tightens its grip on the Pacific Northwest, burning away mountain snow and warming rivers, state officials and Native American tribes are becoming increasingly worried that one of the region’s most precious resources — wild salmon — might disappear.

Native Americans, who for centuries have relied on salmon for food and ceremonial rituals, say the area’s five species of salmon have been declining for years, but the current threat is worse than anything they have seen.

“I grew up always having salmon,” said Lorraine Loomis, fisheries director for the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, whose culture is so intertwined with the migrating fish that they’re called the “People of the Salmon.” Salmon feasts once marked every phase of life on the reservation north of Seattle — naming ceremonies, weddings, funerals, memorials to the dead. Now they are few, she said.

“We’re very worried,” said N. Kathryn Brigham, chair of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission in Portland, Ore., which helps manage fisheries for the Yakama Nation and the Warm Springs, Nez Perce and the Umatilla tribes in Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

An estimated quarter-million salmon, more than half of the spring spawning run up the Columbia River, perished, probably because of a disease that thrives in warm water and causes gill rot, officials said. Normally cool streams in the river basin are 13 degrees warmer than the 60 degrees preferred by salmon, Brigham said.


The carcass of a Chinook salmon, an apparent victim of high water temperature, is shown on the bank of the Clackamas River in Oregon. Oregon wildlife officials are restricting fishing on most of the state’s rivers in an unprecedented effort to aid fish populations dying off from high water temperatures as the state suffers ongoing drought conditions. (Reuters/Rick Swart/Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)

The carcass of a Chinook salmon, an apparent victim of high water temperature, is shown on the bank of the Clackamas River in Oregon. Oregon wildlife officials are restricting fishing on most of the state’s rivers in an unprecedented effort to aid fish populations dying off from high water temperatures as the state suffers ongoing drought conditions. (Reuters/Rick Swart/Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)


Salmon in the Northwest come in a variety — chinook, pink, coho, sockeye and chum — and that diversity has helped them survive for eons. When they hatch, some babies stay in place to eat and grow before migrating to the Pacific Ocean. Others swim to the ocean right away.

Adults stay in the Pacific for three to seven years before returning to streams where they hatched by swimming through Puget Sound in Washington or up the Columbia River, which runs from Alberta, Canada, to Oregon.

But as the climate warms, more salmon are starting to move farther north to Canada, experts say. Swimming to cooler waters in the north signals a major shift in behavior for the fish, and public officials are watching the trend with dread.

In addition to their significance to Native American communities, the salmon are worth more than $1 billion annually to each state’s sport fishing and tourism industries, which support tens of thousands of jobs.

Oregon and Washington officials recently closed dozens of recreational and commercial fishing spots. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service trucked 160,000 salmon 100 miles from a hatchery in central Oregon to a cooler part of the Columbia River.

As more fish vanish, the Swinomish, whose reservation skirts five bays, rely on handouts from the state and tribal councils. They accept 5,000 to 10,000 pieces per year to freeze, Loomis said.

“There’s just no water,” she said. “The glaciers are almost gone. The snow in the mountains is not good.” Even if salmon survive, but in tiny, remnant populations, “we won’t be able to sustain ourselves.”


Commercial fisherman Les Clark pulls a sockeye or blueback salmon from his net while fishing on the Columbia River near Skamania, Wash. More than a quarter million sockeye salmon returning from the ocean to spawn are either dead or dying in the Columbia River and its tributaries. (Gordon King/Yakima Herald-Republic via AP)

Commercial fisherman Les Clark pulls a sockeye or blueback salmon from his net while fishing on the Columbia River near Skamania, Wash. More than a quarter million sockeye salmon returning from the ocean to spawn are either dead or dying in the Columbia River and its tributaries. (Gordon King/Yakima Herald-Republic via AP)


Possible extinction


Off the coast of Oregon, wild chinook salmon are gathering for a fall spawning run up the Columbia, but experts say there’s a good chance many will never arrive to lay eggs in the streams and brooks where they hatched several years ago.

Besides facing long-standing hurdles such as dams, the fish now will encounter a large patch of warming water. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Rich Johnson said the cooler ocean water probably will signal to the salmon that it’s okay to migrate up the warmer Columbia.

Earlier this year, clusters of dead and dying sockeye salmon were discovered in Oregon’s Lower Deschutes River, a Columbia tributary. Officials counted at least 100 fish but speculated that scavengers ate dozens more.

Scientists fear the chinook will suffer the sockeye’s fate. Die-offs mean that fewer eggs will hatch and hatchlings might not survive the warm water.

“The bleakest, most dire outcome is if this drought is sustained for a couple more years like California,” said Greg McMillan, science and conservation director for Oregon’s Deschutes River Alliance. Some populations “could go extinct,” he said.

But wild salmon have an array of survival tools. The species do not all migrate at the same time, and their hatchlings do not all behave the same. Some remain in shallow streams two years after hatching, while others head for the Pacific.

Hate Leftovers? Time for a leftover makeover

By Niki Cleary, Tulalip News

All photos by Niki Cleary


If you’re like me, you’re chronically short on time, so home cooked meals can be a challenge. Maybe you’re like a couple of my family members, you hate eating the same meal twice and will avoid it like the plague. If you’re frugal, the idea of good food going to waste just makes your blood boil. Enter the leftover makeover, and suddenly, everyone is happy.

The leftover makeover is all about planning ahead and being flexible. It starts at the beginning of the week with a foundation meal. If you read my last recipe article, “It’s too hot to cook,” you know I’m a bit of an amateur foodie. I’m also a huge believer in food activism. You don’t have to be an extremist to be an activist, by the way. In my opinion one of the best ways to affect change is to vote with your dollars.

Most of the food I buy and eat is local, and whenever possible, I buy it from people I know. I also purchase a produce box from a local organic farm every week. That said, I’m not afraid to pick up a handful of ingredients based on pure convenience. A bit of advice, don’t make health too difficult or you won’t stick with it.



Food is far more than nourishment, it’s a way to connect with the people around you. Most of the meals you see in the syəcəb didn’t happen at my house, they happened at my mom’s, or a friend’s. Why? Food is better when it’s shared with good company. Plus you can enlist the diners as prep cooks before the meal and dishwashers after (I love food, not dishes).

Making a meal that can be plated all at once takes practice. Don’t feel bad if you botch it. I do all the time. Trust me, the people eating will be just as happy to snack in courses as they will be when you hand them a full plate. You’ll get the hang of cook times the longer you cook.

Don’t be afraid to try things out. Don’t know how to cook over live fire? Learn. Or just cook indoors, the broiler setting on your oven works like an upside down grill. If you see unfamiliar produce at the grocery store go ahead and buy it. Google it for recipes and maybe find a new favorite. Be flexible, it’s not brain surgery, just dinner.


The foundation meal: Salmon and salad




A foundation meal is like a ‘choose your own adventure,’ book. It’s just a starting point and the rest of the week’s menu can go anywhere from here. We’re starting with a fresh King Salmon caught right here in Tulalip Bay. Remember, support our local fisherman, they are a living link of our culture.

If you’ve eaten food cooked over a wood fire, then you know the rich flavor wood smoke adds. That said, I don’t cook over a fire, instead I buy salt. Not just any salt, but alder wood smoked sea salt produced by a company called Salish Saltworks.

We cooked our salmon on a Weber grill, over indirect heat. Because this is a large fish, we had to cook the halves one at a time, for about 30 minutes each. Indirect heat (notice the coals aren’t directly beneath the fish), allows the meat to cook more evenly. Large cuts of meat cooked over direct heat tend to be burnt on some areas and raw in others. The grill should be hot, about 400-450 degrees.





Salmon is tasty. It really doesn’t need much to dress it up. In this case I coated it evenly with smoked sea salt and pepper and topped it with butter. I use Plugra which is a European style butter. Why? Because America’s Test Kitchen gave it great reviews, and sometimes I totally buy into the marketing. Plus, I think it tastes good. Each fillet is cooked for about 30 minutes, no need to flip the fish, just leave it alone.

Remember when your mom used to yell at you for opening the door because, “You’re letting the heat out!” Same principle. Every time you raise the lid on the grill or open your oven door you let the heat out and extend the cooking time. Be patient, what’s the worst that happens, you burn it? Trust me, it’s still tasty, just add some cayenne pepper on the backside and call it ‘cajun’ blackened salmon.




For a quick side I chopped some red peppers and apples and tossed them over a bed of mixed greens. A healthy meal definitely needs something decadent, so I went to the freezer. Anytime I make cookies, I make a double batch and freeze half the cookie dough.




The cookies pictured are adapted from a Quaker oats recipe for cowboy cookies (http://stage.www.quakeroats.com/cooking-and-recipe/cowboy-cookies.aspx). Since I’m not fond of raisins and chocolate together, I cut the raisins out. I use real butter, and reduced the sugars from 1 cup each to ¾ cup each. You can generally reduce sugars by ¾ to ½ without affecting the texture, but be aware, the cookies don’t brown as quickly. Pay attention or you’ll overcook them. Of course, if you’re like me, crispy cookies are even better, so, who cares if they get overcooked? Break out the milk or coffee, dip them and enjoy anyways.

As soon as you’ve eaten, prepare your salmon for the following meals by flaking it (peel it apart with your fingers and pull out all the bones), then packing it up and freezing immediately. You have two hours from safe temperature (off the grill) to refrigeration. Food safety is one of the few places where I am a fanatic. Process your leftovers immediately or just throw them away. Don’t risk food poisoning. It’s not worth it.


prepare your salmon for the following meals by flaking it (peel it apart with your fingers and pull out all the bones), then packing it up and freezing immediately.

prepare your salmon for the following meals by flaking it (peel it apart with your fingers and pull out all the bones), then packing it up and freezing immediately.


It’s okay to put it in the fridge and pack it the next day, but better to freeze it the same day you cook it. My rule of thumb is that meats are good for about six days total. Three days from the time you buy it to the time you cook it and an additional three days after you cook it. However, you can keep meat in the freezer for about 1-3 months. Just thaw overnight in the fridge prior to use.


Meal 2: Salmon tacos




Even if you didn’t remember to thaw your frozen cooked salmon the night before (I didn’t, as usual), you can toss the freezer bag into a bowl of cold water and it will thaw in about 30 minutes. While your salmon is thawing, chop veggies. These will end up in your tacos, so pick stuff you like.

I have some general rules I follow when making tacos. I rarely use lettuce, I choose cabbage instead. Why? Lettuce is a pesticide heavy crop and cabbage isn’t. Cabbage also tends to be less expensive and it’s crunchier. As for the other toppings, I’ve almost always got bell peppers on hand during the summer, I love cilantro, and lime, so that’s what I chopped. This week we also received pluots in the produce box, a pluot is a hybrid between a plum and an apricot. It tastes like a plum, but slightly sweeter. I diced those up too. A little fruit added to something savory just takes it to the next level. Trust me, it works. Don’t be shy with the veggies, any extra will be repurposed later this week.




Finally, I’m prejudiced against microwaves. I don’t actually own one anymore and I find that I rarely miss it. Instead of nuking your tortillas, toss them directly on the burner over low heat (if your burner has settings from 1-10, that’s generally a 2 or 3). The tortillas end up flexible and the char marks add flavor. Want tostadas? Just cook them until they’re crunchy instead of flexible.

Now that all your toppings are prepared, and your salmon is thawed, toss it in a skillet along with whatever seasonings you love. If you were hoping for specifics, sorry, I don’t measure unless I’m baking. I do toss my spices in a bowl, mix and taste before I add them to the food. In this case I used garlic powder, chili powder, salt, paprika, black pepper and a little bit of allspice. Trust me on this, the allspice doesn’t taste sweet in small amounts, and it plays well off the pluots.

Now that everything is done, heat your tortilla’s and assemble. Eat. Repeat.


Meal 3: Chicken tenders, stuffed jalapenos,  pasta and fruit salad




You’re probably wondering, where is the salmon? It’s in the freezer, we’ll use it tomorrow. Tonight we’re taking the leftover veggies from our tacos and turning them into homemade pico de gallo or fresh salsa. Size matters. The finer your ingredients are chopped, the more surface is exposed and the more the flavors pop. This salsa is made from finely diced red and yellow bell peppers, garlic scapes (which taste like a cross between green onions and garlic, what can I say, my mom has a lot of random ingredients in her fridge), roma tomatoes that have been seeded (slice them into quarters and scrape all the wet stuff out) and diced, juice from about half a lime and the same spices we used on tacos yesterday. Cover this and let it sit out at room temperature, cold food doesn’t have as much flavor as warm, so unless there’s a food safety reason, I don’t refrigerate before serving.

Once the the pico de gallo is done, we need to light charcoal for the grill. Everything being cooked today is actually grilled, which means high heat and short cook time. Barbecue has become a general purpose term, but it actually means low heat and long cook time. So for future reference, grill = hot and fast, BBQ = low and slow.

Slice the jalapenos in half lengthwise and seed them. Fill each with a small rectangle of pepper jack cheese, top with pico de gallo and sprinkle with fajita seasoning and toss on the grill.

Slice the jalapenos in half lengthwise and seed them. Fill each with a small rectangle of pepper jack cheese, top with pico de gallo and sprinkle with fajita seasoning and toss on the grill.


Stuffed jalapenos are up next. First, slice the jalapenos in half lengthwise and seed them. Fill each with a small rectangle of pepper jack cheese, top with pico de gallo and sprinkle with fajita seasoning. Then set them aside. We’ll grill them as soon as the coals are ready.

Now we’re going to get some pasta underway. Here’s where convenience rules over principles. Instead of making it from scratch, I opened a box, in this case the box is Kraft Suddenly Salads (pasta) classic flavor. Prepare according to the box instructions and if the mood strikes you, add pico de gallo or veggies of your choice to the finished pasta.

Time to prep the chicken. We used chicken tenders because they cook quickly. I basically rolled the chicken in olive oil and sprinkled it with salt and pepper. Done. There’s so much flavor going on in this meal, you don’t need extravagant chicken too.

For desert today we have fruit salad. I chose peaches and blueberries because both are still in season and yummy, I added bananas to cut the acid and sweeten it, then tossed it all with juice from about half a lime. No sugar needed.


For this desert of peaches and blueberries, I added bananas to cut the acid and sweeten it, then tossed it all with juice from about half a lime. No sugar needed.

For this desert of peaches and blueberries, I added bananas to cut the acid and sweeten it, then tossed it all with juice from about half a lime. No sugar needed.


The peppers cook on the grill for about 3-5 minutes at about 450 degrees. Once they come off, put the chicken on. The chicken only needs 2-3 minutes per side. When in doubt, stab it with a knife. The juices should run clear, if it’s still bleeding, toss it back on the grill.

I’m lucky, my mom lets me invade her kitchen often. Prior to this meal I gave her a call and asked if she’d make deviled eggs. She said yes and the deviled eggs were done before I started cooking. Deviled eggs, by the way, are super easy, a great way to use eggs when they approach the expiration date and can be easily turned into egg salad sandwiches the following day (if there are any leftover, which there never are at our house).

The leftover fruit salad can become a breakfast smoothie. Leftover chicken can be sliced in half for chicken sandwiches at lunch. Save your leftover pico de gallo for tomorrow. All leftovers should be refrigerated as soon as you’re done serving today’s meal.


Meal 4: Salmon burgers


Salmon burger with fruit. Photo/Niki Cleay

Salmon burger with fruit. 


Now it’s time to throw all those leftovers together. It’s the end of the week, so this is the simplest meal of the bunch. Toss your flaked salmon in a bowl with a couple eggs to bind it together. It’s going to be wet. Add enough crushed crackers or chips (you can always go fancy with Tim’s Cascade Jalapeno chips, or whatever you like, for some extra flavor) to make it about burger consistency. Form into baseball sized balls and drop them on a piece of foil. Flatten with your hand and then slide the patties into a non-stick skillet over medium heat (about 300 degrees).


Form into baseball sized balls and drop them on a piece of foil. Flatten with your hand and then slide the patties into a non-stick skillet over medium heat (about 300 degrees). Photo/Niki Cleary

Form into baseball sized balls and drop them on a piece of foil. Flatten with your hand and then slide the patties into a non-stick skillet over medium heat (about 300 degrees).


I bought dinner rolls to use as buns. Slice them and top with some of that pepper jack we bought yesterday. I also used the avocados that I bought for tacos. Unfortunately, they weren’t ripe on taco day, but they’re perfect here on burger day. You can either cut the avocados into thin slices, or put them in a bowl and mash them with a little bit of lime to keep them from browning. Add the burger and top with the pico de gallo from yesterday.

Desert today is honeydew melon. Because we had one and it needed to be eaten. Tada! A week’s worth of meals from one foundation dinner. Remember to be flexible and don’t take it too seriously, food should be fun.




Restored, opened habitat leads to record run of coho from Goldsborough Creek

By Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission 

Scott Steltzner, biologist for the Squaxin Island Tribe, inspects a newly constructed logjam in 2013.

Scott Steltzner, biologist for the Squaxin Island Tribe, inspects a newly constructed logjam in 2013.




SHELTON – The combination of dam removal and aggressive habitat restoration has meant record runs of juvenile coho salmon in Goldsborough Creek for 2015.

This year’s run of 113,000 juvenile counted by the Squaxin Island Tribe continues a strong trend of increasing the numbers of juvenile coho leaving the Goldsborough watershed. The previous record was 61,000 coho.

Almost 15 year ago the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers removed a dam on Goldsborough, opening over 30 miles of near intact habitat to salmon. Since then, the Squaxin Island Tribe has worked with community partners to further improve the habitat through restoration projects throughout the watershed.

“The lesson of Goldsborough Creek is pretty basic: If you give salmon habitat, they’re going to succeed,” said Andy Whitener, natural resources director for the Squaxin Island Tribe.


For example, a couple of years ago, the tribe worked with the South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group, Simpson Lumber, the Green Diamond Resource Company and Miles Sand and Gravel to restore habitat along the creek. The project partners added wood structures to the stream, which give both juvenile and adult salmon places to feed and hide.

A year earlier, the Tribe and the enhancement group replaced undersized culverts just upstream from the old dam site that were blocking a tributary to Goldsborough. The project opened nearly a mile of new spawning and rearing habitat that had not seen salmon in over 100 years.

“These projects, coupled with dam removal, reversed a negative trend for coho on Goldsborough,” Whitener said.

The tribe has operated at least one smolt trap on the creek since dam removal to count out-going salmon migrants. Smolt traps are safe and effective devices for counting young fish. Smolt comes from the word “smoltification” which is the term used to describe the physiological changes that young salmon undergo while in freshwater, just before migrating downstream and entering saltwater.

“By using the trap every year, we’re getting a great picture of the benefits salmon see from good habitat,” said Daniel Kuntz, fisheries biologist for the tribe.

Most importantly to coho salmon, the removal of the dam opened up access to a series of wetlands where juvenile salmon could rear. Unlike most other species of salmon, coho spend an additional year in freshwater before heading out to sea.

The Tribe along with WDFW also conducts yearly adult spawning surveys on Goldsborough Creek above the former dam site. “We get a good look at these salmon at both ends of their life-cycle – as they leave as juveniles and as their returning as spawning adults,” Kuntz said.

“The success salmon have seen since we’ve begun restoring the watershed shows directly how much salmon really do depend on habitat,” said Whitener. “

Sockeye salmon suffer infections in warm Columbia River system

Columnaris lesions mar the gills of a sockeye salmon that was moving up the Columbia River in July 2015.

Columnaris lesions mar the gills of a sockeye salmon that was moving up the Columbia River in July 2015.


By Rich Landers, The Spokesman-Review

FISHING — “Catastrophic” is a word that’s being used as scientists begin to unravel the mystery of why at least 200,000 sockeye that moved over Bonneville Dam have not made it to McNary Dam fish ladders in this summer’s huge salmon runs.

The sockeye woes may explain why dozens if not hundreds of 5- to 12-foot-long decades old sturgeon stuffed with sockeye are going belly up in the Columbia between the Tri-Cities and The Dalles.

The Columbia system is plagued with high temperatures and low flows. This is bad news for native fish that need cool water.

Fish managers have enacted fishing restrictions in some areas, but otherwise there isn’t a lot they can do about Mother Nature.

The photos above are of sockeye sampled last week at Bonneville Dam by state and federal scientists.  The first dead sockeyes were noticed at the dam around June 8. This week, the fish scientists were finding dead fish, both shad and sockeye, in the Bonneville Dam fish ladder.

At the Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery, sockeye in rough shape were hanging out near the facility.

But the words scientists use to describe what’s going on are freakier than the photos.

A Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist said this in an email to colleagues:

We have very bad news from the lower Columbia.  These pictures are just a little piece of the story.  The run is stalled, and the carnage is ugly, with conversion rates from Bonneville to Ice Harbor (for Snake River fish) 2-5%.  Temperatures in the John Day reservoir approach 24 degrees, so nothing’s getting through without suffering.  Looks like we’re going to lose the last 1/3rd to ½ of the run.

Fish that have passed the Snake are still moving upstream, but can’t get to into the tributaries.  The fish that have entered the Wenatchee aren’t passing Tumwater Dam to continue on to Lake Wenatchee, and there’s no cold-water refugia below the dam unless they retreat downstream about 15 km to Peshastin Creek, which is a great steelhead stream but has no holding water for thousands of sockeye.  Besides that, the flows are about half normal discharge, the snow’s all melted out of the cold-water source for Peshastin Creek, and they’re diverting water for irrigation, so it’s bound to heat up.  For fish that passed Tumwater early, many have piled into a small tributary called Chiwaukum Creek, but it’s about the same size as Peshastin.

The Okanagan fish can’t leave Wells with the US Okanogan at 28 degrees C, and the reservoir is nearly 18 degrees C already.  The rate of diseased and injured fish observed in the count windows at Wells seems to increase every day—lots of lamprey scars and descale, and we’re starting to see fungus and bacterial lesions.  I don’t think the estuary provides hospitable holding, with lamprey and pinnipeds; so, I’m not sure we can count on a fall resurgence of migrants.

A British Columbia scientist commenting on this email thread among scientists wrote this:

Catastrophic losses of this year’s exceptional returns of adult Sockeye Salmon have begun to occur in the Columbia River given the unprecedented severity of super-optimal temperatures and low flows encountered along their freshwater migration corridor…. It’s probably fair to surmise that we may lose the majority of the nearly 350,000 wild adult Sockeye destined for Canadian portions of the Okanagan if Wells Pool, where they are currently holding, warms to temperatures much greater than 18 degrees Celsius for an appreciable length of time. Regrettably, this is highly likely to occur as temperatures are currently at 17.5 degrees and increasing while the Okanagan River is well in excess of the upper thermal lethal temperature of 25 degrees.

As noted in an earlier bulletin, we are also maintaining a Somass Salmon and Climate Watch given poor environmental conditions for either migration in the Somass River or for holding at the head end of Alberni Inlet. Although some fish managed to access their lakes of origin at Great Central and Sproat in the past few days, conditions are still marginal for passage and stored water released from behind the Great Central Lake Dam to supplement flows to ease passage under high temperature conditions has now been exhausted just as we head into what is on average the driest weeks of the summer-fall interval.

It may be advisable for DFO communications to identify “talking points” and “spokespersons” very soon to get out in front of events that will likely generate intense media interest. I’ve worked on BC salmon populations for more than 40 years and cannot remember anything comparable to what were currently seeing unfold on the coast !

State money to fix salmon-blocking culverts falls far short

State biologist Melissa Erkel looks at a culvert along the North Fork of Newaukum Creek near Enumclaw. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

State biologist Melissa Erkel looks at a culvert along the North Fork of Newaukum Creek near Enumclaw. (Ted S. Warren/AP)

By  PHUONG LE, The Associated Press

Washington state is under a federal court order to fix hundreds of barriers built under state roads and highways that block access for migrating salmon and thus interfere with Washington tribes’ treaty-backed right to catch fish.

But it’s not clear how the state is going to come up with the estimated $2.4 billion it will take to correct more than 825 culverts — concrete pipes or steel structures that allow streams to flow under state roads and highways.

The state has appealed the judge’s decision. But in the meantime, the Legislature last week approved millions to correct fish barriers statewide.

The 16-year transportation revenue bill includes $300 million for fish passage, dramatically more than in the past but far short of what the state estimates it needs. The House still needs to pass two Senate-approved bills to complete the transportation package.

“I would like to have seen us put more money toward that,” said Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, ranking member of the House Transportation Committee. “We do need to be working on this. I think it’s a good start and I’m glad we’re doing it.”

Lawmakers have referred to this case as the other McCleary decision, which told the state to fix the way it pays for public schools.

“Ultimately it’s something we’re going to have to address; it’s just a question of timeline for when we’re going to get done,” Orcutt said.

The injunction issued by federal Judge Ricardo Martinez stems from the landmark 1974 Boldt decision, which affirmed the treaty rights of Northwest tribes to catch fish. The judge said fish-blocking culverts contribute to diminished fish runs.

“It is a treaty right. Tribes ceded the entire state of Washington to the federal government. In return, we asked that we have salmon forever,” said Brian Cladoosby, chairman of the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community.

He said he was disappointed with the state’s appeal and questioned how much money the state had spent in appealing the case that could have gone toward fixing the problem.

 The state Department of Transportation, which is responsible for correcting the largest number of culverts under the court order, has been working on fish passage for a number of decades, said Paul Wagner, the agency’s biology branch manager.

This year, the agency plans 13 fish-passage projects across the state. It also completed 13 such projects in each of the past two years.

But Wagner acknowledged that significantly more money will be needed to meet the terms of the injunction.

 Culverts can be a problem for fish in several ways. Stream flows running through a small pipe can be too fast, making it harder for fish to swim upstream to spawn or downstream to reach the ocean. Perched culverts also can be too elevated for fish to jump through.

“It’s a big, big problem,” said Julie Henning, state Department of Fish and Wildlife habitat division manager.

When culverts are removed or fixed, the benefits are immediate because it opens up miles of critical habitat upstream to fish, said Henning, who also co-chairs the state’s Fish Barrier Removal Board.

 That board, created by the Legislature last year, is working to coordinate with counties, private landowners, tribes, state agencies and others to get the most benefit out of projects to remove fish barriers and recover salmon runs.

“When you think about a fish swimming upstream, it goes through all these jurisdictions,” Henning said.

Counties, cities, forest owners and others have worked independently to remove fish barriers only to find that culverts elsewhere on the stream continue to block fish passage.

 On the North Fork of Newaukum Creek near Enumclaw one afternoon, Henning and Department of Fish and Wildlife fish biologist Melissa Erkel pointed out a project King County did several years ago to replace two aging pipes with a large box culvert that is wide enough to allow the stream to meander.

But less than a quarter-mile upstream, two culverts block access for fish.

Erkel said she has provided technical assistance to the private landowner, who plans this fall to replace them with a 35-foot span bridge to allow more water to pass under the private road.

“Fish passage is really important work. We’re not just doing it because of the lawsuit. It’s something that needs to be done,” Henning said.