MFS late season cancellations solution - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 07-28-2016   #1
 
dirtbagkayaker's Avatar
 
Bazzaro, World
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MFS late season cancellations solution

Over the years its plagued me and many others about ppl who cancel MFS permits from 8/15 to end of lottery season.

fdon posted in another thread;

"I have written to the FS asking them to consider re-issuing the cancelled permit to a 4-5 boat max trip just to keep that month open to at least a few private boaters. That concept fell onto deaf ears. Perhaps if more buzz folk would speak up the FS might listen? Just an idea."


lets do this!

How do we unite on a goal, draft it, and be heard?

Can anyone help a guy out here?

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Old 07-28-2016   #2
 
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I have written on various forums extensively on this subject and sent a detailed analysis to the USFS (as a fish biologist) arguing that this management strategy (i.e. not issuing cancelations from Aug 15 to Sept 15) to protect endangered species act listed Chinook spawning is arbitrary and capricious under the ESA rules and that any potential effects are also biologically meaningless and insignificant. So far I got a thank you for your comments response. The only way to eliminate this rule is by a lawsuit on the grounds it is an arbitrary and capricious rule. Under the ESA the USFS as management agency does not have to consider public input to implement this rule. It was implemented with nothing to back it up, totally speculative, it was part of a scatter blast of actions thrown up in when the USFS consulted with NMFS on the MF Salmon permit issuance program as a way to minimize/avoid effects on Chinook. They implemented several actions that do nothing to address the real issues with this ESA listed stock, but instead penalize the few that want to float this river at low flows. We floated it last year at 1.45 feet. There is very little if any potential Chinook spawning habitat from Boundary all the way downstream, which is why 99% of the Chinook spawn in the tribs or upstream of Boundary where the spawning habitat is actually at. In addition, places where we briefly hung up were in shallow boulder gardens, not on gravel beds and pool tailouts where Chinook like to spawn. Don't get me started!
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Old 07-28-2016   #3
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shappattack View Post
The only way to eliminate this rule is by a lawsuit on the grounds it is an arbitrary and capricious rule.
OK, so is this doable? do you believe with a mountain of $$ and good attorneys it could be done? Or would it be like getting dog shit to stick on Hillary's shoe? Just not happening.

What about some sort of education? Or loss of future application status? Could we append a rule that states if you cancel after the march date you lose out the next 3 years???

maybe a second late season lottery where the forest service could make another $6 per person in mid July??

There just has to be something.
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Old 07-28-2016   #4
 
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If you had $$ and good lawyers I guarantee a lawsuit based on arbitrary and capricious would prevail for the protection of Chinook spawning argument. However, there is no one that will sue. The rule is not affecting the outfitters, privates can't band together to do such a thing.
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Old 07-28-2016   #5
 
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What is your support to the statement that the policy is "biologically meaningless and insignificant"? The veracity of that claim leaves me curious.
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Old 07-28-2016   #6
 
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Search Idaho whitewater yahoo forum or here for long explanation, the short version is that IDFG (and their agency predecessor) have collected data on Chinook spawner distribution in the MF salmon sub basin for many decades. There is data back to the 1960s. On average about 1% of Chinook that return to the MF sub basin spawn in the mainstem MF proper. The rest spawn in tributaries or upstream of boudary in the headwater reaches.

The reason is likely 2 fold, fist the tribs and headwaters is where the spawning gravel is. Second, there is limited gravel in the mainstem MF Salmon. In general the masinstem MF is steep and confined by a steep v-shapped valley. Not a conducive spot for spawning gravel beds to accumulate. Where there is limited gravel in the mainstem, there is likely high bedload transport and scour going on due to the steep gardient, high seasonal flows such as rain on snow during pineapple express events etc, confinement and regular tributary blow-outs that occur.

So even if a chinook spawns in the mainstem, there is significant chance that they don't survive. Hence the reason only a small proportion normally spawn in the mainstem. Mainstem spawning is selected against by the forces listed above. These are fish that are likely "strays" not fish that are homing exactly to where they were spawned. A certain percentage of returning adults will just spawn in sporadic locations with appropriate gravel. This doesn't mean that the eggs will hatch and be successful. I would imaging just based on the physical nature of the mainstem gravel patches, that egg to fry recruitment/survival on the low side. Even if boats flat out killed every single redd in the mainstem, it would not result in a measurable biological response given all the other mortality factors that exert real biological consraint on the population, which include downstream survival of juveniles at each dam, estuary survival, ocean survival, incidental and direct mortality from commercial and recreational fisheries, predation of adults at fish ladders by seals on their way backupstream, etc. etc, unnatturaly high predation by colonary birds that are at natural high abundance at the mouth of the columbia due to islands of dredge material built up by the Army Corps to maintain navigation channels.

Even before boaters were present, most spawners did not spawn in the mainstem MF so it isn't that we are scaring them away from prime habitat. Take a look at some other rivers with huge boat traffic in Alaska, still an order of magnitude more Chinook with tourists tromping all over the redds all day long. There is also no research that shows that walking, parking a boat, scaring a fish off a redd by floating by, or the like has any measurable decrease in egg to fry survival, though I am not suggesting this is a good idea. Chinook burry their eggs deep, and they get subject to a huge amount of force during high water naturally. Again the proportion of the population even subject to potential impact by boaters is small. The yearly return of Chinook has varied widely from year to year, yet the number of boats on the MF Salmon has remained essentially unchanged for decades.

The other large forces mentioned above account for the annual variability in returning adults. But the USFS has no control over the big stuff, some desk biologists at NMFS and USFS came up with a host of stuff so they could put something in the Biological Opinion to show that the permit system on the MF Salmon is compliant with the ESA and minimizing "take" i.e harassment, morality etc. of listed Chinook. Yet even harassment or direct mortality is permissible under the ESA. All they have to do is have an incidental take statement added to the biological opinion. Hydroprojects get incidental take statements all the time to kill 1% of listed fish that may encounter their projects. How can a hydroproject get an incidental take statement to allow 1% mortality of fish, yet the MF Salmon permit system can't even allow floaters to pass by 1% of spawners where no-direct moratality is even being argued?

1 fish biologists rational thoughts
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Old 07-28-2016   #7
 
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To the arbitrary and capricious nature of the rule to not re-issue permits to private groups that cancel between Aug 15 to Sept 15.

Under the ESA, reasonable and prudent measures or measures to minimize/avoid "take" of listed fish (i.e. to hunt, peruse, found, shoot, trap, kill, harass) must be reasonably certain to occur, not be speculative, and not subject to voluntary action outside of the agencies control. In this case, there is no way to predict how many boaters/trips will occur for sure from year to year as it is based on voluntary permit cancelation. This means that if no permits were canceled in any given year, the maximum number of folks could still go down the river legally. The rule in no way limits the number of boats by any certain or predictable amount. How can this be possible if the USFS and NMFS have determined that fewer boaters are necessary from Aug 15 to Sept 15 to reduce impacts on spawning Chinook? If they or you really believe that less boat traffic is needed to protect Chinook spawning from Aug 15 to Sept 15, then they should identify a maximum allowable number of boaters and only let that number pass each year. But they haven't done that because they cannot actually identify what the impact actually is or what an appropriate level of boaters should be to minimize it.

The rule and action to implement it was based on speculation alone and does not reasonably do anything to limit floating parties to some unknown "safe" number.
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Old 07-28-2016   #8
 
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Sounds reasonable to me.

I'd pitch $50 to a go fund me set up by shap to fund a lawsuit to get this reversed. If it doesnt get enough contributions to fund the lawsuit because of cheapass boaters who love to bitch but not step up, we can just give the money to AW. Seems if we could get the majority of buzz members to even give a 20 spot it could work. Certainly there are lots of idaho boaters not on this site that it would be worth more than a 20 to. Start it up and spread the word.

I'd open a joint bank account with him if people want, so he doesnt swindle us and buy a new AIRE.

Those later dates are times when I can actually get away and go boating. I'd love to be able to pick up a late august cancellation.
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Old 07-28-2016   #9
 
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NMFS could issue take for salmon, I would ask some hard questions about that. They sometimes hold the agency's (BLM and USFS) hostage with their opinions. Essentially they tell you they can't issue an opinion (therefore hold up the entire season of boating) unless the action doesn't adversely affect fish they hold out and hold out. The regulations state issue take or call jeopardy but of course they would not take the heat of doing that. Yes they can dictate terms and conditions, horrible process. NMFS frustrates me to no end I used to work with them on ESA issues.
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Old 07-28-2016   #10
 
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Thanks for the thoughtful response, Shap. Gives me something to look into and better understand the context. I am in the camp of not having a strong opinion in either direction on this issue.

Phillip
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