The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is proposing to eliminate harvest restrictions for bass, walleye and channel catfish in all the state’s rivers, streams and beaver ponds; and in lakes, ponds and reservoirs where salmon are present. The proposal comes in response to House Bill 1579, a recommendation by the orca task force that passed the Washington Legislature this year. There are currently no restrictions on fishing for the three species in the Columbia River and its tributaries, but several lakes feeding into the Columbia are on the list. Public meetings are scheduled and comments will be accepted through Oct. 17.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little appointed one new member and reappointed another to the Idaho Fish and Game Commission. Bradley Melton, a financial advisor and lifelong outdoorsman from Lewiston, will replace Dan Blanco as the representative of the Clearwater region of Idaho. Derick Atterbury, an irrigation operations manager from Idaho Falls, was reappointed to represent the upper Snake River region. New appointees are confirmed by the Idaho Senate and serve four-year terms.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has released a draft conservation plan for four species of lampreys in Oregon, including Pacific lamprey. The plan has been under development for several years, and outlines plans to preserve Pacific, western river, western brook and Pacific brook lamprey. “Interest in lamprey conservation has increased dramatically over the last two decades as concern has grown over their status,” an ODFW news release said. The agency is accepting public comments, and will host meetings in Salem and Clackamas in early October.

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council approved the release of a draft report to Congress for fiscal year 2019, beginning a 90-day public review period. The annual report on the state of the Columbia River is required under the Northwest Power Act. The 38-page document outlines many of the Council’s ongoing activities with regard to its power plan, fish and wildlife plan, administration and public outreach. Comments on the draft report are due by Dec. 20, and will be included in the report.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has submitted a $26 million funding request with the governor’s office—the first step in getting supplemental funds during the next legislative session. In a news release the agency says $12.5 million would address a deficit driven by legislative requirements and cost increases such as wages. It says it has cut $2 million, but without additional funding, cuts will be made to numerous programs, including species and habitat conservation, eight salmon and trout hatcheries, and access to salmon and steelhead fishing on portions of the Columbia River and its tributaries.

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council agreed on Sept. 18 to support a Bonneville Power Administration proposal to reduce the Independent Scientific Advisory Board’s budget in fiscal year 2020 to $350,000—a $197,000 reduction compared with fiscal year 2019. The reduction reflects the ISAB expenditures over the last 13 years. The Council’s support was conditioned on revisiting the budget each year to ensure adequate funds are provided to fully carry out scientific reviews as requested. Their work should not be affected by the budget reduction, a staff proposal recommending the reduction said.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Oct. 1 granted a late motion by Del Norte County, Calif., to intervene in PacifiCorp’s and the Klamath River Renewal Corporation’s application to transfer four Klamath River dams to KRRC in order to remove them. The county’s motion said it takes no position for or against the project at this time, but seeks to ensure adequate mitigation since the mouth of the Klamath River is in Del Norte County, and impacts to the river’s shoreline and county-owned property are anticipated. The motion was unopposed.

K.C. Mehaffey covers fish issues for Clearing Up, and is editor of the NW Fishletter. She joined the NewsData writing team in February 2018. From lawsuits to scientific studies, she is enjoying the deep dive into the Columbia Basin's many fish topics.