OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will accept public comments through August 5 on an updated draft management plan that will be used by the agency to operate its hatchery program for chinook salmon in the Elwha River watershed.
The draft plan, known as a Hatchery and Genetic Management Plan (HGMP), describes the operation of the artificial production program for chinook salmon in the Elwha River and the potential effects of the program on wild fish species, such as salmon and steelhead, that are protected by the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).
The draft Elwha River HGMP is available for review on WDFW’s website (http://wdfw.wa.gov/hatcheries/hgmp/). Comments on the draft HGMP can be submitted by email to Jon Anderson at email@example.com or by U.S. Mail to: Jon Anderson, 600 Capitol Way North, Olympia, WA, 98501.
Two public meetings also have been scheduled by WDFW in June to discuss the draft Elwha River HGMP. The meetings are scheduled for:
- June 25 – From 6-8 p.m. at the WDFW North Puget Sound Regional Office, 16018 Mill Creek Blvd., in Mill Creek.
- June 28 – From 6-8 p.m. at the City Council Chambers, 321 East 5th St., in Port Angeles.
WDFW has updated the draft Elwha River chinook HGMP to better reflect current efforts to protect and restore wild salmon and steelhead populations, said Ron Warren, regional fish program manager for the department.
“Since completing the original draft HGMP for Elwha River chinook salmon nearly a decade ago, we have made significant changes to our hatchery operations,” said Warren. “This updated draft plan is designed to be consistent with those changes.”
Public comments, WDFW's response and any resulting modifications to the draft HGMP will be posted on the department's website. The finalized HGMP will be forwarded to the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries), the federal agency responsible for implementing the ESA.
NOAA Fisheries is currently working to produce a final environmental impact statement on the effect of hatchery programs on protected salmon and steelhead populations in Puget Sound and Columbia River.
Later this summer, WDFW will be seeking public comment on updated and revised draft HGMPs for other hatchery programs in the Puget Sound and Columbia River regions. Those draft plans also will be posted on WDFW’s website.