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.