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Reading: WA’s initiatives

From a notice by David Ammons of the Washington Secretary of State's office:

FYI: As WA lawmakers prepare to open their session on Monday, the people’s process of writing laws by initiative got its start Friday.

By mid-afternoon, 24 proposals with the Secretary of State’s Elections Division, including 13 from initiative activist Tim Eyman. His measures deal with making it tougher to raise taxes in Olympia, bringing back $30 car tabs, express lane tolls, and other issues.

Kurt Ludden of Seattle filed seven initiatives, dealing with medical marijuana, and the initiative process. Other sponsors submitted measures dealing with a single-payer health insurance system for Washington, grandparents’ visitation rights, and faculty carrying handguns.

The process of filing is easy — pay a $5 filing fee and submit the proposed wording. History shows, however, that usually only a few actually make the ballot. It takes 246,372 valid signatures of registered Washington voters — and the Elections Division recommends bringing in at least 325k to cover duplicate and invalid signatures. The deadline this year is July 8.

Initiatives are sent to the state code reviser for review as to form, and then on to the attorney general for a ballot title. Ballot titles can be challenges by sponsors or foes in court. After all that, it is up to sponsors whether to actually print up 20,000 or more actual petition sheets for signature collection. Many sponsors do not take that final step, and many do not gather enough signatures to qualify.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Kim Wyman has provisionally certified two initiatives to the Legislature as the Elections Division begins the signature-verification process. They are I-732, dealing with carbon taxes, and I-735, petitioning for a constitutional amendment overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision on campaign fundraising.

Radiation’s cost

A December guest opinion from Tami Thatcher, a former nuclear safety analyst at the Idaho National Laboratory and a nuclear safety consultant.

The headline that “Radiation, chemicals likely killed 396 INL workers” by Rocky Barker at the Idaho Statesman last December understates the historical occupational health issues at the Idaho National Laboratory. As of last November, 5,397 INL workers had applied for radiation or chemical illness compensation under the Energy Employee compensation act. Only 636 radiation claims and 926 chemical claims have so far been approved.

There are now two petitions for radiation exposure cohorts being investigated by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health: one for INL and one for ANL-W. So far, one cohort for the Chem Plant from 1963 to 1974 has been recommended largely because of inadequate plutonium contamination monitoring.

The INL including ANL-W has conducted a tremendous variety of nuclear operations over the years at various facilities. While radiation monitoring practices and nuclear operations have changed over the years, here’s one thing that hasn’t changed: the deliberate understatement and omitting of important facts by the Department of Energy concerning contamination and exposures at these facilities.

Congressional testimony when the Energy worker act was created documented how the DOE deliberately withheld information it considered might erode public confidence, increase its liability, or prompt workers to demand hazard pay.

As I review recent reports by the DOE which still deceptively minimize historical radiological releases to southeast Idaho, it is clear that not much has changed. A DOE report published in 2014 depicts public offsite radiation doses all being below 10 mrem/yr, yet its cited source shows annual doses three times that amount. And various releases have been found by NIOSH to have been underestimated. Add to these low-balled INL releases the Department of Energy weapons testing releases that continued from underground testing after the above-ground weapons test ban in 1963.

I stumbled across serious errors in annual reporting of radionuclide emissions for 2013 at the INL that no one at DOE, INL or IDEQ had noticed, it is clear that the illusion of environmental monitoring is far more important that the actual monitoring, evaluation of results or looking for ways to reduce emissions. Emissions are often estimated without verification and then downplayed. The State of Idaho should care about the accurate current and historical reporting of contamination of air and water.

While other federal agencies such as the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission post public comment as received whether or not the proposed action is pursued. The DOE has yet to post public comment regarding the Two Proposed Shipments to INL citing the reason that it has altered its original plan. DOE has long eluded having to post or respond to solicited public comment this way.

A recent large epidemiology study combining France, the UK and the US has provided more evidence that it is cumulative dose that matters and doses below radiation protection standards yield increased cancer risk. You can count of the Department of Energy to make only muffled responses and it is unlikely that radiation worker training will discuss these results. The DOE has yet to reconcile radiation health findings from 2006 that found children were 7 times more vulnerable to radiation exposure, and women twice as vulnerable as men or the INL worker epidemiology showing elevated risk of brain tumors and blood cancers for INL workers, whether or not the workers were radiation workers.

NIOSH conducts radiation dose reconstruction with available dose reports. And it has yet to come to grips with serious americium-241 shallow perched water contamination at the ATR complex. The secrecy caused an absence of record keeping of the quantities of americium and other long-lived radionuclides flushed down the drains to open-air pecolation ponds.

And the US Geological survey which wrote a report specifically about shallow and deep perched water failed to monitor either americium or gross alpha levels. Even tiny community wells must monitor gross alpha levels. The USGS gave as an excuse that they do not read CERCLA reports that reported the americium levels at 100 times the maximum contaminant levels. The DOE has for years avoided mentioning long-lived radionuclide contamination at INL because it knows that the truth could erode public confidence.

NIOSH has continually been misled by the DOE about the adequacy of radiation controls at INL. NIOSH interviews are conducted but current workers cannot discuss problems without risk of retribution. Former workers need to step up and assist NIOSH in understanding past and current issues at INL that may have led to inadequate monitoring of radiation exposure as NIOSH investigates the petitions.

A Hells Canyon story

Hells_Canyon_Oregon

A reminiscence from Brock Evans, a long-time leader in the Sierra Club and one of the original advocates for preservation of the Hells Canyon area. Now retired and living in Washington, D.C. he is a frequent contributor to magazines on environmental issues and has authored several books on environmental advocacy.

Such a strange-sounding, mysterious place: a whisper of an echo of something ancient and far-off, forbidding even in its very name.

Springtime 1967.1 had just left my law practice in Seattle take on a new position as Northwest Representative of the Sierra Club—the only paid, full-time conservationist position (we weren't called environmentalists until after Earth Day, 1970) north of San Francisco. My "territory," as it turned out (my boss, David Brower, had a rather loose management style!) was everything on the Pacific Coast from the North Pole to California, plus Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Alberta, and the Yukon Territory-Northwest North America.

I had actually heard of Hells Canyon for the first time the year before. By a strange turn of fate, the law firm I worked for had as its major client, the Washington Public Power Supply System-­one of two premier dambuilding entities in the Northwest—and mortal rivals of the other dambuilders: the private power companies, equal in numbers and political power. The struggles between these two over who got to plug up the great northwest rivers seem grotesque to us today, but those were the realities of that not-so distant past—when the words "wild river" were subjects of scorn and derision from all the Northwest powers-that-be. It was in the struggle between these two dam-building titans that I was first introduced to Hells Canyon as a place.

"Brock, we just got our appeal to the Supreme Court approved [challenging a license recently granted by the Federal Power Commission (precursor to the the present FERC) to PNPC, a combine of private power companies, to build a big dam in Hells Canyon, flooding out the last 120 miles of its inner gorge]. We'd like you to work on the brief for us," said one of the firm's senior partners.

A brief before the Supreme Court—every young lawyer's dream! But I hated dams—the whole idea of dams—even then, and I knew I just could not do it. I begged off, wanting no part of what I considered a dirty business.

The wheel of fate turned again. A year later in my new position, I attended my first meeting of the Executive Committee of the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Sierra Club, at a member's home on Puget Sound. Not only was the Club much smaller in those days—about 40,000 members nationwide—but its tiny membership in the Northwest was almost exclusively located in the "westside" Seattle-Portland-Eugene axis. Although knowledgeable and determined on issues there—wilderness, parks, and forests—few knew much about the vast deserts, rivers, wild mountains and forests of the Northwest interior, much less had ever visited there.

On that bright spring morning, from "Darkest Idaho," across the rivers and the deserts and the mountains, came a visitor—one Floyd Harvey, of Lewiston. Floyd, longtime boatman and guide in the Canyon, loved the great river, knew every bend and cove and cliff. His quiet earnestness, eloquence, and passion moved us all as he told us of the loss of a great living river if the dam was built, and pleaded with us to try to save it.

"OK Brock—take a look and see what we can do," said my ExCom.

Yeah, sure, I thought. I hate this river-killing dam, the whole idea of it— but what could be done at this late date? The license had been already granted, and the only issue before the Supreme Court was now only about who got to do the terrible deed-not whether. I was morose and unhappy about it for weeks, and could come up with no solution to the problem, given our very few resources in those distant times.

But hope came—and from a totally-unexpected place: the Supreme Court itself (this was long before there was any such thing as "environmental law"). That June a small headline in the Lewiston Morning Tribune screamed out at me: "Hells Canyon Case Sent Back by Court for More Hearings."

What's this?

What happened, it turned out was a now-famous opinion of the great Justice, William O. Douglas—one which had nothing to do with any of the legal arguments presented by those who argued the case. But Supreme Court Justices don't have to worry about such niceties; it is they who decide what the law is. Justice Douglas' opinion (known in Latin legalese as an opinion obiter dictum—meaning outside the parameters of the case itself) was a landmark in American environmental history. And for me and our tiny band who wanted to save the Canyon—it represented Hope, a fighting chance—if we could seize it.

Douglas said that "the Court will not now make a decision on who gets to build this dam. The first question that must be answered is whether there should be any dam at all. Therefore, we remand this case back to the FPC for a determination on this one point: should there be a dam or not." The very words themselves amounted to a stunning legal precedent; never before had the Court—any court-ever even questioned the 'common wisdom' of dambuilding.

Aha, I thought: "I'm a lawyer. I know what remand means! It means a whole new hearing, new witnesses-a new trial. YesP'At least that's what it ought to be. (I did not know then that the FPC "Trial Judge" was not only furious about this decision, but that he was irrevocably pro-dam, determined to issue a new license no matter what. But that's a story for later.)

So now, what to do? We weren't parties to the previous proceeding; would there be any chance that they would let the upstart Sierra Club into it now?

Remember, no such thing then as "environmental law." NEPA and the Clean Air Act were a full three years away; the Clean Water Act, five, the Endangered Species Act not even a gleam. There was nothing out there-no guidance, no precedents, no law review articles—nothing. Not even the word 'environment.'

I wrote a letter to the Supreme Court. It read something like, "hey, you never heard of me before, but I just read this opinion, see, and I have a question: if the case has been remanded for a new trial, does that mean that any new parties can intervene [get involved]?" I can only imagine the bemused contempt at such temerity from the provinces on the part of the Court official who saw the letter!

But I did get a brief response, about a month later: "well yeah sonny, I guess you can [intervene] if you want to ..."

OK, here we go, I thought to myself- "I'm a lawyer, I know how to do these things..." I did what I had always done in my (few) years of law practice — marched right down to the King County (Seattle) Courthouse, went up to the Clerk's desk and said: "get me the Form Book for Petitions for Intervention before the Federal Power Commission, please..."

Eyebrows raised. "Sonny, what on earth are you talking about?" It was about then that I began to realize: whatever was to be done would have to be created, in its entirety — by me. There was no body of environmental law, no cases, no procedure — no nuthin'. This was to be, in lawyerspeak, a case entirely de novo (brand new).

OK. I went back to my office, read all the materials I could find about the Canyon and its values, read some of the literature about rivers, and dictated out a Petition of my own, with a whole lot of whereases and a lot of reasons why the Sierra Club — which to my knowledge had ever been involved in any sort of legal proceeding before — was qualified to present the evidence about why the Canyon was more valuable to the public as a free-flowing river.

Then another consideration started to dawn: this is going to be more than just a legal proceeding. Given the overwhelming pro-dam climate of the times, we are certain to be fiercely attacked by politicians and media. We must demonstrate that we have local support, too. Which means I've got to "find" more plaintiffs. (I also had to explain-in those innocent days—just exactly what a "plaintiff was!)

That took some doing. It was early August, and the deadline for filing the Petition was the 31st. Hurry, hurry, much to do. I tracked down the President of the Sierra Club, and the President of the Federation of Western Outdoor Clubs-which represented many local northwest groups. After obtaining their permission (how much easier then than the cumbersome processes of today), I searched Idaho for a likely "true local" candidate.

I found it in the Idaho Alpine Club — a FWOC member group, based in Idaho Falls. It turned out that I had, inadvertently, also stumbled onto some of the finest ecowarriors in the whole state: Jerry Jayne, Russ Brown, Boyd Norton, Pete Renault, and Jim Campbell.

They agreed to sign on IAC as a party—and then went on, a few months later, to form the organization that became the passionate heart and soul of our whole campaign thenceforth: the Hells Canyon Preservation Council itself.

Now time was very short. The deadline pressed in, and many other issues were simultaneously overwhelming my one-person operation. No such thing as desktop publishing in 1967! This was the age of typewriters and rotary phones, mimeograph machines and carbon paper. Everything was cumbersome, all logistics painfully slow. The Petition somehow did get finished, the required thirty duplicate copies painfully put together. At 11:40PM on the evening of August 31, 1967, I deposited them all, duly stamped and dated, at the Post Office desk at Sea Tac Airport, for the next flight to Washington, FPC headquarters.

It was done. Now, at least we had a chance to fight for the Canyon we loved.

PS: Of course this was only the beginning of a new chapter in the story—also a beautiful and terrible one, as they all are: a tale of joys and despairs, violent twists and turns of fortune, as the case then made its way through a three year new trial, and then five more years in the halls of Congress. The "other side,” enraged at our intervention, did its best to get us and our evidence out of the case, touting the Snake as "The River that Wants to Work. " We successfully escalated the whole cause into a major national issue. But all that is a story for another time, perhaps. (photo/by X-Weinzar)

Ad of note

A remarkable ad from the John Kasich presidential campaign, aimed at Donald Trump.

Open public records?

From a statement by the audits division of the Oregon Secretary of State's office, about a look into just how open the state's public records are.

While Oregon agencies follow the public records law for most public records requests, more needs to be done to address the complex, non-routine requests that agencies receive, according to an audit released today by the Secretary of State’s office.

Auditors examined nine state agencies of varying sizes and missions to determine how agencies are both responding to public records requests and retaining their public records. Their findings are outlined in the audit report released today, entitled: “State Agencies Respond Well to Routine Public Records Requests, but Struggle with Complex Requests and Emerging Technologies.”

The audit found that most public records requests agencies receive are simple and can be fulfilled within just a couple weeks, often at little or no cost. But agencies struggle to respond to the occasional complex request, leading at times to delays, high fees, and the perception that agencies are using these tactics to block the release of public information.

The audit recommends that policymakers consider creating a neutral third party, such as an ombudsman position, to serve as an intermediary between the public and state agencies on complex records requests. Third-party mediation services between agencies and requesters have been employed successfully in other states to help protect confidential information and ensure public access to state information.

“The public and the press have a right to see how their government operates to serve Oregonians,” said Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins. “This audit demonstrates that state agencies need to improve consistency and develop strategies to better respond to public records requests of all sizes. We must improve the public’s trust in Oregon government.”

Agencies are also struggling to keep up with the latest communication technologies, such as social media, text and instant messages, and the use of personal devices or personal email accounts. Very few agencies examined have policies in place to specifically dictate how these technologies should be used in the context of public records, and how to retain the data.

Some of these issues stem back to how agencies retain their public records. The audit found that agencies are keeping too many records past the required retention schedule, resulting in a significant volume of public records that are difficult for agencies to efficiently manage.

“Public employees want to be good stewards of state information,” said Secretary Atkins. “Given the rapidly changing ways we use technology to conduct state business, it is clear we have work to do to maintain transparency and accountability to Oregonians.”

The audit also found variation among agencies in the fees charged for public records requests and the timeline in responding to them. The audit has recommended that the Department of Administrative Services take the lead in establishing guidance regarding fees and rates for the cost of public records requests. Auditors further recommended agencies establish timeliness goals for responding to records requests, and hold themselves accountable to those goals.

Audit findings further touched on a number of related issues, including exemptions in the law and how agencies can benefit from technology to be more transparent and accountable.

The audit released today was in response to Senate Bill 9 from the 2015 Session, legislation requested by Governor Kate Brown. Read the full audit on the Secretary of State website or an executive summary on the Audits Division blog.

Tax approaches

From a Facebook post by retired Idaho Judge Duff McKee.

One of the featured commentaries in Saturday’s Statesman had me underlining phrases and chortling to myself with unexpected satisfaction. Ed Lotterman, the economist and sometime columnist from St Paul, wrote to extoll the little known but widely respected economist Professor John Taylor, of Stanford University.

But what caught my attention was the skewering Lotterman gave along the way to supply-side economics. I thought to myself, here at last may be a clear answer to the clown car’s insistence that tax rates be cut across the board.

Without getting too far into the weeds, economic theory can be divided into two schools: Keynesian theory as developed by John Maynard Keynes in the middle 1930s, and the classic view, such as the theories of Alfred Marshall as published in 1890 and founded upon the works of John Stuart Mill (middle 1800’s) and Adam Smith (late 1700’s), among others. Keynesian theory can be construed as centered on the consumer or demand side of the equation, and is focused on the short run. Classic theory, such as Marshallian economics, is more concerned with the production side of the equation, and takes a longer view.

Keynes’ views are still at the center of most modern thinkers. He thought consumers and their demands were the key economic drivers of the economy, and that government action was the fastest, most effective and therefore best way to influence these interests in the short run. Deficit spending, control of money and aggressive tax policy were simply tools in the bag to help regulate and smooth out bumps in the road. The assumption here is that periods of economic adjustment should be anticipated and wherever possible ameliorated by prompt action of the government. Most Democrats adhere to some form of modernized Keynesian theory.

The classical economists, like Marshall, reckoned that the fundamental axis of any economy consists of wants and needs, which are in constant flux and are constantly seeking equilibrium. Marshall thought that in the long run, these forces would naturally adjust to maintain an equilibrium if left alone. Neither taxes nor the supply of money should be manipulated for anything but short term effects, with a long run objective of permitting market forces to control over artificial restraints. Periods of economic adjustment should be tolerated with minimum levels of government interference. Republicans have traditionally favored some variant of the classical view.

The “supply-side theory” is an extension of the classical thought brought to light during the Reagan years, and advanced today by the extreme right edge. It takes the premise of the classical view of economics a significant step further to the right in three areas: (1) the elimination of government restraints to production; (2) elimination of government regulation of the flow and quantity of money (The extreme view here is for a return to the gold standard); and (3) cut tax rates for all, even if such is to levels below that required to generate revenue for current needs. The tacit assumption here is that periods of economic adjustment should be tolerated with no interference from the government.

Lotterman maintains that supply-side economics has been completely debunked by most economists, including the more distinguished of those from the right, like Professor Taylor. He observes that in his 34 years of teaching (which would reach back to the edge of the “trickle down” economy days of Ronald Reagan) he has not run across a single textbook that asserts supply-side economics as truth.

On the specific question of tax policy, the plain facts are that if tax rates are cut to a level below that required to maintain the government, the short term effect will be that revenue will decline and the deficits will increase. Without further cuts to spending, which even the Republicans concede would be Draconian, Keynesian theory teaches that where such is imposed in time of economic growth, the extra stimulus is artificial and unnecessary and becomes inflationary.

The upshot of it all is that measured by today’s present level of increasing growth, any artificial tax reduction would increase deficits without any commensurate benefit in the short run, and if maintained into the long run, such will eventually destabilize the economy.
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This means the answer to the question on clown car’s pronouncement of tax policy is that in the short run, we lose, and in the long run its all nonsense. Period. Class dismissed.

Schedule abuse

From an open letter by Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick:

Across the country, retail firms are using new scheduling technology to squeeze every last dollar out of their workers—at enormous cost.

With constant, last-minute schedule changes and shift combinations that allow less than 7 hours of sleep, it’s throwing low-income parents into lives of perpetual crisis, as they struggle to arrange for childcare, plan their lives, and stay healthy. In the Oregonian, Steve Duin says it’s turning “low-income parents into the Walking Dead."

I call it abusive scheduling, and it has to stop.

One of the proudest moments of my service on the City Council was our unanimous vote to guarantee some paid sick leave to every employee in Portland. We provided the leadership the state of Oregon needed on that day, and I want to do it again for this pressing issue.

We can solve this problem. One example we could use was set by the City of San Francisco, where they passed a law that requires workers to be given at least two weeks’ notice of their shifts, or get extra pay for short-notice shifts.

But there’s a catch—as part of some deals that were struck in the last legislative session, the Oregon State Legislature voted to prohibit local governments like the City of Portland from acting on scheduling protection until July 2017.

This is where I part ways with some people in my own party. Because low-income families can’t wait until July 2017. They need help now. Our state government should either protect low-income parents right away - by enacting statewide legislation in the 2016 short session - or at least repeal the preemption and let the City of Portland lead.

Over the coming months, I’ll be raising my voice and working with my colleagues at the City of Portland and in the state legislature to get this resolved.

So please, call your legislators (get contact information here) and ask for action on abusive scheduling in February. And if you or a person you know is being hurt by scheduling practices like this, please respond to this email with your story. I’d love to hear from you.

Fire lingo

From a report by the Idaho Department of Lands, written by information officer Sharla Arledge, explaining some of the terminology used in wildfire reports.

As a new PIO to the fire world I know there is a lot of terminology the average person isn’t familiar with. With this severe fire season we are talking a lot about Incident Management Teams. The question has come up, what is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 fire teams.

I thought it might be helpful to have an explanation of Incident Management Teams.

What is an Incident Management Team?

An incident management team is a small group of people fire management professionals specially trained and experienced in managing complex emergency fire situations. It is a tool to help fire protection agency manage fire situations that exceed their resources.

An incident management team is supervised by an Incident Commander that oversees specialists with expertise in operations, logistics, plans and finance and administration. Type 1 or 2 teams are commonly comprised of qualified individuals from various state and federal agencies. Type 3 teams are usually composed of individuals from other units within the protection agencies and from units of other agencies in the local area.

Teams are classified as Type 1, 2 or 3 based on the complexity of fires they are qualified to manage. A couple of differences between a Type 1 and Type 2 team is the complexity of the fire and the number of personnel. Type 1 teams handle the most complex fires and operation personnel often exceed 500 people and total people on the incident usually exceed 1,000.

When is a team needed?

An incident management team is assigned to relieve a wildfire agency that no longer has the resources to effectively manage the local fire situation. Examples would be:

· When a single large fire reaches a level of complexity that exceeds the experience or resources of the unit(s) fighting the fire.

· When a large number of fires start in a short period of time causing an excessive initial attack workload.

The protection agency requests the assignment of a team. The requests are driven not only by the fire situation and resource availability, but also what weather and burning conditions are expected in the future.

When a team is activated and assembles on scene it is fully briefed on the fire situation and the risks and suppression objectives by the protection agency. After the briefing the team assumes management responsibility for the fire(s). This allows the local protection agency to replenish its resources and focus them on the initial attack responsibilities elsewhere.

The team operates under the direction of an employee of the agency on whose protection the fire occurs. This employee is called the Line Officer. The Line Officer ensures the team manages the fire in an economical manner with safety for the public and fire personnel always being the first priority.

The cost of suppression increases substantially anytime a team is assigned, especially a Type 1 or 2 team. This is because of the large amount of equipment and supplies needed to support the personnel and resources assigned to a large fire.

I hope you find this helpful. As always, let me know if you have any questions.

Fish and the heat wave

From this week's Idaho Weekly Briefing: An Idaho Fish & Game report on how this summer's heat may be affecting fish and fishing rules.

Warm water temperatures came earlier than usual to many of Idaho’s fishing waters, but it’s unlikely to lead to fishing closures or restrictions similar to those that neighboring states have implemented.

“In many streams, what we’re seeing this year with water temperatures happens every year, we’re just seeing it sooner than normal,” said Jim Fredericks, chief of the Department of Fish and Game’s fisheries bureau.

A heat wave in late June and early July spiked water temperatures, but many waters have since cooled to normal summer temperatures. That doesn’t mean fish haven’t been stressed, particularly trout and other coldwater species, but conditions are not likely to affect fish populations now or in the near future based on current water conditions.

Warm water is a common occurrence during summer, and several factors come into play when it happens. Summer migrations into headwaters, cold tributaries or around underwater springs are a normal part of life for trout in many Idaho rivers. In lakes and reservoirs fish move to deeper, cooler water. Many rivers, or portions of them, have dams that allow water temperatures and flows to be adjusted.

The feeding activity of the fish also helps minimize the problem. Fish that can’t find cooler water typically become lethargic and decrease or stop eating, which means slow fishing and a corresponding drop in fishing pressure.
While closures in neighboring states won’t affect Idaho, Oregon and Washington have implemented restrictions on the Snake River where it shares a border with Idaho.

Joe DuPont, Fish and Game’s Clearwater Region fisheries manager, said fishing pressure for sturgeon, and catch rates in the Snake River from Idaho anglers, are likely to be low.

“I’m confident the sturgeon in the Hells Canyon reach of the Snake River are not going to be impacted by anglers due to temperatures,” DuPont said. “Catch rates drop so much that very few get caught. You can’t stress them out if you can’t catch them.”

The department is monitoring the Snake River, and he noted that during spring, two dead sturgeon were reported by multiple callers to the department.

“When a sturgeon dies, we get repeated calls,” Dupont said. “If large numbers were dying, we would know about it.”

Fish and Game officials have the authority to implement emergency fishing closures in extreme cases, although they aren’t expected.

That’s not to say anglers won’t see some noticeable effects from warmer. Anglers and others may see localized fish die offs, a few of which have already occurred. Anglers may also notice the effects of stress on individual fish, such as parasites, lesions and other physical signs.

Anglers can also reduce stress on fish by not fishing during the warmest parts of the day, and if they plan to release the fish, land them quickly and carefully release them. If anglers see fish go belly up after being released, they may voluntarily stop fishing until the water cools. Early mornings are typically when the water temperatures are coolest during the day.

The window when temperatures are above a comfortable level for fish are typically short-lived, and most fish can withstand the temporary stress. As water cools, typically in late summer when days get shorter and night temperatures drop, fish resume their normal routines and anglers will likely see catch rates improve. (photo/Nan Palmero)