SHORTS: New Montana Council Member; White-Nose Syndrome East Of Cascades; Boise’s Salmon/Steelhead Days; Montana Fisheries Projects; ShakeAlert For West Coast

— New Montana Member Of Northwest Power And Conservation Council

Montana Governor Steve Bullock has appointed Bo Downen, director, environmental and regional affairs at the Public Power Council, a regional association of consumer-owned electric utilities, to replace Tim Baker as a Montana member of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.

Baker resigned in June; Downen began work at the Helena office of the Northwest Power and Conservation Council on August 26. He will be serving on the Council’s power and public affairs committees.

Downen, who was raised in Montana, joined the Public Power Council as a policy analyst in 2006, focusing on the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s fish and wildlife program, energy efficiency policy, and regional power planning. Prior to joining the Public Power Council, Downen worked as an attorney for the speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives and was a staff member for the State Government Administration Committee. Downen graduated from Georgetown University and the Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

— Bat-Killing White-Nose Syndrome Confirmed First Time East Of Cascades In Washington

White-nose syndrome, an often-fatal disease of hibernating bats, has been confirmed for the first time in Washington east of the Cascade Range. Kittitas County is the fourth county in Washington affected by the disease or the causal fungus, joining King, Pierce, and Lewis counties.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife received four dead bats from a landowner outside of Cle Elum this spring. WDFW sent the bats to the U.S. Geological Survey National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, WI for testing, where scientists confirmed all four bats had white-nose syndrome. The bat species are either Yuma myotis (Myotis yumanensis) or little brown bats (Myotis lucifugus), two species that are hard to tell apart visually.

Scientists use UV light to detect possible white-nose syndrome infections. Bats with white-nose syndrome usually have an orange glow on their wings.

Earlier this year, the same landowner alerted WDFW that a large group of bats has lived on their property for over 50 years. Biologists confirmed it was a maternity colony, which is where female bats give birth and nurse their young. In August, scientists counted more than 750 bats at the site.

“We are thankful that this homeowner was a caring steward of these bats and reached out to let us know about the bats on their property, and for reporting the dead bats,” said Abby Tobin, white-nose syndrome coordinator for WDFW. “We rely on these types of tips from the public of sick or dead bats, or groups of bats, to monitor bat populations and track the spread of this deadly bat disease.”

White-nose syndrome is harmful to hibernating bats, but does not affect humans, livestock, or other wildlife.

In 2016, scientists first documented white-nose syndrome in Washington near North Bend in King County. Since then, WDFW has confirmed 34 cases of the disease in three bat species in the state. A timeline of fungus and white-nose syndrome detections in Washington is available online at

First seen in North America in 2006 in eastern New York, white-nose syndrome has killed millions of bats in eastern North America and has now spread to 33 states and seven Canadian provinces.

The disease is caused by the fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans, which attacks the skin of hibernating bats and damages their delicate wings, making it difficult to fly. Infected bats often leave too early from hibernation, which causes them to lose their fat reserves and become dehydrated or starve to death.

As predators of night-flying insects, bats play an important ecological role in preserving the natural balance of your property or neighborhood. Washington is home to 15 bat species that benefit humans by eating tons of insects that can negatively affect forest health, commercial crops, and human health and well-being.

WDFW collaborates with partners, including U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington State Department of Health, wildlife rehabilitators, and others to collect samples from bats and the areas where they live around the state for the past three years. This proactive surveillance work helps scientists detect the presence of the fungus that causes white-nose syndrome and track its spread.

WDFW urges people to not handle animals that appear sick or are found dead. If you find sick, dead, or groups of bats, or notice bats acting strangely, such as flying outside during the day or freezing weather, please report your sighting online at or call WDFW at 360-902-2515.

Even though the fungus is primarily spread from bat-to-bat contact, humans can unintentionally spread it as well. People can carry fungal spores on clothing, shoes, or recreation equipment that touches the fungus. This precaution may be particularly important in areas where natural barriers like the Cascade Range may slow the natural movement of the fungus across the landscape.

To learn more about the disease and the national white-nose syndrome response, and to get the most updated decontamination protocols and other guidance documents, visit

For more information on Washington bats, visit

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting, and perpetuating fish, wildlife, and ecosystems, while providing sustainable fishing, hunting, and other recreation opportunities.


—- Salmon And Steelhead Days In Boise Gives Kids Hands-On Learning

September 4-6 marks the 23rd Salmon and Steelhead Days at the MK Nature Center in Boise. The event celebrates Idaho’s anadromous fish by involving fifth grade students in hands-on learning about salmon and steelhead.

Over the course of the three-day educational event, nearly 2,300 students from southwest Idaho will participate in a day of hands-on learning. This year’s event will host 80 classes from 34 schools.

“Every year, we have a waiting list of classes hoping to participate,” said Idaho Salmon and Steelhead Days Executive Director, Martha Sliney. “It is a popular program and fun to watch the students enjoy their outdoor learning experience.”

Students participate in a variety of education stations including salmon ecology; Gyotaku (Japanese fish printing); the salmon migration maze; and Class in the Creek. Students also learn about the cultural importance of these fish to native people across the state.

Salmon and Steelhead Days is a partnership effort of natural resource agencies and private partners. Volunteers are an important part of the event, donating their time and expertise to helping students learn.  These dedicated volunteers hope that when students leave the event they have a better understanding of why Idaho’s anadromous fish are such amazing creatures, and why they are such important natural, cultural, and recreational resources for Idaho.    


—– Montana Fish And Wildlife Commission Funds Fisheries Improvement Projects

Westslope cutthroat trout, brown trout and rainbow trout will be kept out of irrigation diversions and remain in the stream when fish screens are installed on diversions in Lolo Creek and the West Fork of the Bitterroot River. These projects are two of 11 that recently received funding by the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission through the Future Fisheries Improvement Program.

Approximately $510,225 in funding was approved to improve Montana fisheries.

The fisheries improvements include restoration of streams to a natural condition, installing fish screens to keep fish out of irrigation diversions, increasing flow to streams, decommissioning roads near streams, improving fish passage, dam spillway repair and more. Projects will help both native and non-native fish, including bull trout, westslope and Yellowstone cutthroat trout, Arctic grayling, brown trout, rainbow trout, brook trout, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and yellow perch.

This year’s funding was matched by more than $2.2 million from outside sources. Watershed groups, governmental agencies, landowners and others submitted a total of 12 proposed projects. The approved projects are located across Montana, including five that are west and six that are east of the Continental Divide.

Applications for the FFIP winter-cycle grants are due Nov. 30, 2019, to FWP’s Fisheries Management Bureau. Application forms are available on FWP’s website, at FWP regional offices and at the headquarters in Helena.

Any individual or group with a project designed to restore or enhance habitat for wild or native fish may apply for FFIP funding. Applicants are encouraged to work with local FWP fisheries biologists. Landowners and other project partners usually share project costs, extending FFIP dollars.

More information and FFIP applications are available on FWP’s website at

Approved FFIP projects

Missoula Area

•Lolo Ditch fish screen (Missoula County, located on Lolo Creek, tributary to the Bitterroot River)

•Miller Creek restoration and sediment reduction (Missoula County, tributary to the Bitterroot River)

•Morrell Creek decommissioning and revegetation (Powell County, tributary to the Clearwater River)

•Nevada Creek phase 3B restoration (Powell County, tributary to the middle Blackfoot River)

•West Fork Bitterroot Wilson Ditch fish screen (Ravalli County, tributary to the Bitterroot River)

Helena Area

•Beaver Creek Upper Missouri channel reconstruction (Lewis and Clark County, tributary to the Missouri River)

•Sevenmile Creek restoration phase 2 (Lewis and Clark County, tributary to Tenmile Creek)

Billings Area

•Musselshell River McCleary channel restoration (Musselshell County, tributary to Missouri River)

Miles City Area

•Haughian Bass Reservoir spillway repair (Custer County, in the Cheery Creek drainage)

Butte Area

•French Creek channel reconstruction (Deer Lodge County, tributary to Deep Creek and the Big Hole River)

Bozeman Area

•Reese Creek instream flow supplement (Park County, tributary to Yellowstone River)


— USGS Awards More Than $12.5 Million To Improve ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning On West Coast

The U.S. Geological Survey has awarded more than $12.5 million to seven universities and a university-governed non-profit to support operation, improvement and expansion of the ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system for the West Coast of the United States.

The awards are for the first year of a new set of two-year cooperative agreements with the California Institute of Technology; Central Washington University; the University of California, Berkeley; the University of Oregon; the University of Washington; the University of Nevada, Reno; UNAVCO, Inc.; and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich).

Additionally, the USGS has purchased about $1.5 million in new sensor equipment to expand and improve the ShakeAlert system. These efforts, as well as other operation, improvement and expansion work that the USGS is conducting, are the result of $21.1 million in funding to the USGS Earthquake Hazards Program for ShakeAlert approved by Congress earlier this year.

These new agreements include work to incorporate real-time GPS observations into ShakeAlert. The USGS and its university and nonprofit partners will also further the development of scientific algorithms to rapidly detect potentially damaging earthquakes, more thoroughly test the warning system, and improve system performance. In addition, sensor networks will be upgraded and new seismic stations will be installed to improve the speed and reliability of the warnings. The ShakeAlert partners will also continue user training and education efforts, in collaboration with state and local partners, and add more ShakeAlert pilot users. About 60 organizations are current test users, from sectors such as utilities, transportation, emergency management, education, state and city governments and industry. Several of these are engaged in pilot projects to demonstrate the practical use of ShakeAlert in a variety of applications.

An earthquake early warning system can give people a precious few seconds to stop what they are doing and take protective actions before severe shaking waves from an earthquake arrive. ShakeAlert is a product of the USGS Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS), a federation of national and regional earthquake monitoring networks throughout the country, including networks in southern California, northern California and the Pacific Northwest.

The ShakeAlert earthquake early warning system has been in development for 13 years.  In 2006, the USGS began funding multi-institutional, collaborative research to test warning algorithms on real-time seismic networks within the ANSS. In California, this is a joint effort; state legislation was passed in 2013 directing the California Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) to develop an early warning system in collaboration with the USGS and its partners. Since 2016, the state of California has committed $42 million to CalOES to enhance the statewide build-out of the California Earthquake Early Warning System. This year, the state of Washington allocated $1.24 million over two years for the system. The state of Oregon has contributed about $1 million in funding to enhance the system there.

In 2018, the USGS estimated that it would cost $39.4 million in capital investment to complete the ShakeAlert system on the West Coast to the point of issuing public alerts, and $28.6 million each year to operate and maintain it. This is in addition to current support for seismic and geodetic networks.

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