OLYMPIA – Proposed operation changes at the Tokul Creek Hatchery designed to support naturally spawning steelhead in the Snoqualmie watershed will be discussed at two public meetings in early September.
The public meetings are scheduled for Sept. 9 at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) Mill Creek office, 16018 Mill Creek Blvd.; and Sept. 11 at the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery, 125 West Sunset Way.
Both meetings will be held from 6 p.m.-8 p.m.
During the meetings, WDFW staff will outline proposed changes to operations at the Tokul Creek Hatchery that meet requirements under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), and are consistent with the 2008 Statewide Steelhead Management Plan and recommendations from the Hatchery Scientific Review Group (HSRG).
The HSRG is an independent panel of scientists established by Congress to evaluate fish hatchery operations in Puget Sound, where wild steelhead and two salmon species are listed for protection under the federal ESA.
“We are improving hatchery operations statewide to help support naturally spawning fish populations,” said Heather Bartlett, salmon and steelhead division manager for WDFW. “The proposed changes at Tokul Creek are part of that broad conservation effort aimed at restoring wild salmon and steelhead stocks while continuing to provide sustainable fishing opportunities on hatchery fish.”
Under the proposed operation changes, currently under discussion with tribal co-managers, the department could:
- Reduce Tokul Creek Hatchery steelhead production by 10-20 percent and shift the remaining production – 150,000 winter steelhead – to another state hatchery in the watershed.
- Eliminate about 20,000 steelhead plants annually in the Tolt River.
- Eliminate about 20,000 steelhead plants annually in the Raging River.
- Relocate some or all of the 30,000 trout produced each year at Tokul Creek to other nearby facilities. Those trout are produced for the lowland and high lakes fish-stocking programs.
These changes could allow for all or part of the Snoqualmie watershed to be designated as a “wild steelhead management zone” that would be managed exclusively for wild fish populations. The management zone is intended to help increase production of the river system’s wild steelhead populations by minimizing the number of competing hatchery-produced fish on the spawning grounds.