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March 2020 Newsletter

Fish Trivia

North Sound Trout Unlimited presents Fish Trivia Night

Are you ready for another evening of fish fueled trivia?
Then join us on March 24th at Brandywine Kitchen!

There will be a $2 per person buy-in and a max of 5 people per team.

The winning team will reel in the door pot!
2nd place will win North Sound Trout Unlimited T shirts.

Social at 6:30 pm
Trivia at 7

We will be following The Offishal House Rules: 1) Trivia Master is always right. 2) If Trivia Master is wrong, please see rule #1.
There will be no de-baiting the Trivia Master.

See you all there!
                 -Bridget Moran -
     2020 NSTU Chapter President
2020 Election Results 

During our February chapter meeting our board election vote was had and hopefully this in an election we can all agree on. The results are as follows:

2020 Election Results - Majority Vote 12 Trout Unlimited Members

Chapter President  - Bridget Moran

Chapter Vice President - Brandon Sly

Chapter Treasurer - Scott Willison

Chapter Secretary - Brandon Stolzenburg

Chapter Conservation Chair - Jon Luthanen

Conservation News
Suction Dredge Mining Reform 

Safeguards for fish, water quality head to Governor’s desk

Bill just approved by legislature would update regulations for motorized suction dredging in habitat for endangered fish species. 

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington residents can soon expect water quality improvements and greater protections for critical wild fish populations from effects of suction dredge mining. Following the same action by the House, today the Washington Senate approved a bill titled, ‘Ensuring Compliance with the Federal Clean Water Act by Prohibiting Certain Discharges into Waters of the State,’ ESHB 1261, which will ban suction dredge mining in critical habitat designated under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) for threatened or endangered salmon, steelhead, and bull trout.

The bill passed the Washington State Senate by a bipartisan vote of 37 – 10. The legislation will now move to Governor Inslee’s desk who is expected to sign the legislation into law. If signed, the bill will take effect later this year.

“For years, we’ve had enormous taxpayer investment in restoring water quality and fish habitat while we let outdated motorized suction dredge mining laws needlessly threaten our most sensitive fish populations. Today, our lawmakers remedied this glaring oversight in our regulations,” said Crystal Elliot, Washington Habitat Director for Trout Unlimited, which has led the statewide coalition to address this issue.

The measure will bring Washington into compliance with the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act and in line with court-backed regulations in neighboring states including Oregon, California, Idaho, and Montana. 

“This legislation is a common-sense reform to protect habitat and water quality in areas of Washington State most critical to the recovery of salmon and steelhead. I appreciate the support for this bill from all over the State,” said Sen. Jesse Salomon (D – 32nd, Shoreline), sponsor of SB 6149, the Senate companion bill to HB 1261. 

“I am glad to see the legislature approve these protections of critical habitat for salmon, steelhead, and bull trout from the harmful impacts of motorized mining. I appreciate the broad support of the bill from all parts of Washington State from recreational fishing and environmental groups, local governments, businesses, and Indian tribes. As a lifelong fly fisherman, I’m proud to support this commonsense approach that protects habitat and ensures compliance with the Clean Water Act and Endangered Species Act,” said House sponsor of HB 1261, Rep. Strom Peterson (D-21st, Edmonds).

This legislation received support from a broad coalition of more than 160 businesses, non-profit organizations and faith-based groups. Native American tribes from across Washington State, including the Quinault Indian Nation, Snoqualmie Tribe, Yakama Nation, Sauk-Suiattle Tribe, Tulalip Tribes, and others also supported the bill. 

“We have spent years working to raise awareness of this outdated practice that destroys sensitive habitat to benefit a small number of hobbyist miners,” said Robert de los Angeles, Chairman of the Snoqualmie Tribe. “So it is extremely gratifying to see that our State leaders are listening and embracing policies that are more consistent with all of our neighboring states.”

Suction dredge mining is a form of mineral prospecting that uses gas-powered dredges to vacuum up rocks, gravel, and sediment from the bottom of creeks and rivers to search for gold. Proven impacts of suction dredge mining include erosion and sedimentation, mobilization of mercury and other heavy metals, increase in water temperatures, water contamination, habitat destruction, as well as physical impacts to fish eggs, juvenile fish, invertebrates, and other aquatic organisms. 

Washington's water quality and fisheries resources are critical to the state economy, amounting to $4.5 billion annually for the state. However, wild salmon and steelhead populations continue to decline, says the State’s recently released State of the Salmon in Watersheds report.  


Crystal Elliot, Trout Unlimited Washington Habitat Director, or (509) 386-7768

Tom Uniack, Washington Wild Executive Director, 206-369-1252

For more information on suction dredge impact

Federal Hydropower Plan Once Again Fails Columbia Basin Salmon and Steelhead Recovery

SPOKANE, WA – Last week, federal agencies released their new Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Columbia Basin Hydropower System. This plan was supposed to chart a path forward for salmon and steelhead recovery in the Columbia and Snake River watersheds. Instead, it cynically recommits to the expensive, failing management status quo by refusing to recommend breaching the four dams on the lower Snake River even though the report itself points to this critical act as one of the best opportunities for long-term recovery of endangered salmon and steelhead populations in the basin.

The Wild Steelhead Coalition (WSC) is frustrated by this short-sighted plan. It is simply a reiteration of the five previous federal plans that have all been rejected by the courts as inadequate. During upcoming public meetings and public comment period, our members will be expressing our deep disappointment in the lack of real, durable recovery efforts offered by the DEIS. Published soon after some of the worst salmon and steelhead returns on record, WSC fears the proposed plan is nothing but a path to extinction for these keystone species of the Pacific Northwest.

WSC board member Josh Mills sums up the sad state of affairs: “For decades, we’ve seen that the current management regime is failing salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake Rivers. This is why a broad coalition of anglers, politicians, conservationists, NGOs, tribes, and river communities are asking why the four lower Snake River Dams are not seriously being considered for removal before it is too late. Our iconic fish can’t wait decades longer for viable solutions. I don’t want to have a conversation with my kids about why we didn’t do something to save salmon and steelhead when the answer was apparent the whole time.”

We are at a crucial juncture for salmon and steelhead in the Columbia and Snake watershed. In a warming world where these species face habitat loss, continued harvest pressures, changing ocean conditions, and predation by pinnipeds and non-native warmwater fish, among other factors, there is a growing consensus that it is time to finally consider the large systemic changes required to ensure salmon and steelhead thrive into the future. Reconsidering the utility and burden of the four dams on the Lower Snake River within the comprehensive hydropower system of the Columbia Basin is only reasonable given the mountain of scientific evidence demonstrating that it is an essential element for durable salmon and steelhead recovery. We know this large step in the right direction can be taken and that it can be a collaborative effort that supports the communities that depend on fish, irrigation and clean power.

We need a plan that supports real solutions, not one that doubles down on the failing policies of the past.

Credit: Paul Moinester

A step in the right direction

Termination of the lease for a fish-farming operation in the harbor at Port Angeles has been upheld in Thurston County Superior Court.

Cooke Aquaculture Pacific said it would appeal the ruling.

Kurt Grinnell, a member of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal Council and CEO of Jamestown Seafood, said he’s hopeful something can be worked out to keep afloat a partnership with Cooke to farm black cod and steelhead at the site. The tribe has no interest in using any of Cooke’s farms in other locations, Grinnell said, so the Port Angeles lease is a make or break for the joint venture.

“We want to get our fish in the water,” he said. “Given the condition of our natural stocks that we no longer fish for, going forward this is something we feel our tribe is going to have to look for in order to have some consistent fish not only to eat, but to sell.”

Even if Cooke prevails on appeal, the company still needs approval from the state Department of Natural Resources to allow it to farm steelhead or black cod at the pen. The current lease for the pen is for farming Atlantic salmon and “for no other purpose,” the lease states.

Hilary Franz, state commissioner of public lands for the state DNR, terminated the lease held by Cooke Aquaculture at the net pen site in December 2017. Thurston County Superior Court Judge Carol Murphy last week rejected Cooke’s challenge.

Franz called Cooke’s lawsuit “baseless” in a statement: “Thank you to Judge Murphy for upholding the right of the Department of Natural Resources to terminate the lease of a company that failed to operate safely. My duty is to ensure that no company endangers the health of Washington’s waters, which support our culture, economy and struggling native salmon.”

Credit: Linda V. Mapes
Seattle Times Environment Report

From Our Committees

Women's Initiative
We would like to thank everyone who came out to the Costa SLAM Film Fest at Kulshan last month!

We had a blast, and our raffle was able to raise enough money for us to offer introductory classes at a lower rate this summer.

For more updates on what we're up to, head over to the North Sound Women on the Fly Facebook page. You can also email us any time at We'll get you on the email list or answer any questions you have about getting involved.

-Kendra and Bridget


  • If you would like to support North Sound TU and our conservation efforts, there are a few ways to donate.
  • Donate your time and assist us at an event or volunteer to chair a position on the board (inquire via Facebook message or email to

  • Send us a check:
North Sound Trout Unlimited
PO Box 3043
Bellingham, WA 98227
  • Link your Amazon Smile account to NSTU. Find out how here.
  • Sign up for our Fred Meyers rewards program - without any cost to you, this allows your regular purchases at Fred Meyers via your rewards card to refund 3-5% of all purchases back to the chapter.

    1. Create a Fred Meyers rewards account here.

    2. If you already have a Fred Meyers rewards account, sign in and link it to NSTU by visiting your rewards profile here.

      NSTU is recognized as nonprofit VH504
    3. By phone: Call Fred Meyers customer support at 1-800-576-4377 (opt 3) and linking your card to our nonprofit (#88119)

Copyright ©2017 North Sound Trout Unlimited. All rights reserved.

North Sound Trout Unlimited
PO Box 3043
Bellingham, WA 98227

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North Sound Trout Unlimited · PO Box 3043 · Bellingham, Wa 98227 · USA

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