WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE
NEWS RELEASE
600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA 98501-1091

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January 02, 1997
Contact: Jeff Weathersby, 360-902-2258

Meeting on wild steelhead conservation scheduled for Jan. 16

KELSO -- Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologists will discuss strategies to conserve wild steelhead trout this winter in the lower Columbia River tributaries at a public meeting scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan 16.

The meeting will be held at Kesler's Restaurant, 900 Ash St., Kelso.

The public meeting is part of the department's effort to develop strategies to conserve and restore wild steelhead as part of the state's evolving Wild Salmonid Policy and to meet the requirements of the federal Endangered Species Act.

The National Marine Fisheries Service has proposed listing lower Columbia River wild steelhead as "threatened" under the federal law.

This winter, the department must find ways to reduce the number of hatchery steelhead that spawn with wild fish.

One possible method of reducing the number of spawning hatchery steelhead in the upper Kalama River is to detain returning hatchery steelhead at the Kalama Falls Hatchery and then return them via truck to the lower river to give anglers a second chance to catch them. In the past, those hatchery steelhead have been passed above the hatchery to the upper river via a fishway.

The proposal would prevent the interbreeding of wild and hatchery fish and improve fishing opportunities.

The department also is seeking the public help in developing long-term plans to rebuild wild steelhead runs in the region.

"We want to stress the need for effective conservation actions. We also want the public to be informed and help us identify additional strategies we may have overlooked," said Lee Van Tussenbrook, who manages department programs in southwest Washington from Vancouver.