Commissioners act on SMP comments, pond net operational status


Wahkiakum County commissioners on Tuesday approved a response to the state Department of Ecology about changes to the county's Shoreline Master Program (SMP) and also for a change in use of fish taken from the test fish trap from research to commercial use.

Commissioners also approved bids for improvements at the county fairgrounds; they renewed the status of the Wahkiakum Chamber of Commerce as the county state-recognized Associate Development Agency; they authorized court clerk Kay Holland to increase hours of part-time employees from 20.5 to 60 hours per month, and they learned about state highway department plans for projects on SR 4 and SR 401 later this year.

Comments on the SMP came from a variety of citizens and organizations and ranged from concern over shore development buffers and climate change and sea level rise. Westend residents Chuck Hendrickson and Nick Nikkila, members of the commissioners' Real Property Rights Advisory committee prepared the county's response. Commissioners approved the responses, and they'll be sent to Ecology for evaluation of the county's SMP update.

Commissioners made a slight change in rules governing the pond net, also called a fish trap, which Jon Blair Peterson began operating in 2016 in the Columbia just above Cathlamet.

State and federal agencies such as Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife have used the facility to collect migrating salmon and steelhead, to see which fish are in the river and what percentages are wild or hatchery bred fish. They've also fine tuned the trap's workings so that fish are minimally impacted by passing through.

Over the trap's years of operation, Peterson said, WDFW has sold whatever hatchery fish were eligible for harvest. The change in status from research to commercial will allow Peterson to sell the fish.

Pond nets were outlawed in the 1930's: Peterson's has been a research facility.

"This is only a temporary test fishery to study the feasibility of commercial use," Peterson said.


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