The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking public comment on a proposal to eliminate hatchery steelhead plants as early as next year in three Lower Columbia River tributaries (EF Lewis, Green/NF Toutle and Wind Rivers) to support the recovery of wild fish. These three watersheds would join the Sol Duc River as Washington State Wild Steelhead Gene Banks.
The elimination of hatchery plantings in these three watersheds is the recommendation of three stakeholder groups convened by WDFW over the past two years. Gene Banks are part of actions endorsed by the state of Washington’s 2008 Statewide Steelhead Management Plan and were mandated by National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) to protect wild steelhead in the Lower Columbia.
Wild Steelhead Gene Bank designation does not close a watershed to angling, but does create restrictions placing the priority on the health of the wild populations, not angling opportunity. Establishing Gene Banks would be a solid first step toward limiting the negative impacts of hatchery fish on threatened wild populations in the Lower Columbia.
Comments and suggestions collected during this public process will eventually be submitted to the National Marine Fisheries Service who oversee the recovery of threatened salmon and steelhead populations.
We ask that you let WDFW and NMFS know that you support management actions that implement the best-available science and recover threatened wild steelhead populations in Washington. Read and alter the comments below as you wish, but please make your voice heard in support of protections for wild steelhead.
[TAKE ACTION HERE] – it will only take you a minute or two to sign it.