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June 15, 2001
Contact: Jim Uehara, (360) 902-2738

WDFW seeks public comments on rotenone use

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking public comment on a proposal to update its procedures for using rotenone, a plant-derived chemical used to control undesirable fish in lakes.

Written comments will be accepted through July 13 for consideration by WDFW in developing a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) on the use of rotenone. Public meetings on the issue are also scheduled June 26 in the Seattle area and June 28 in Spokane.

Washington is one of 38 states that use rotenone to rid lakes of carp, stunted sunfish, goldfish and other undesirable fish. A natural toxin made from the roots of South American plants, rotenone is not lethal to fish eggs or warm-blooded organisms. WDFW Director Jeff Koenings said the department is reviewing its procedures for using rotenone to ensure that adequate measures are in place to protect the public health and groundwater supplies.

"Recently, some concerns have been raised on the national level about rotenone after more than 60 years of use in this state," Koenings said. "We plan to take a thorough look at our procedures to ensure the safety of the public and our own employees."

Jim Uehara, inland lakes manager for WDFW, said one of the biggest advantages of rotenone in managing scrap fish is that it dissipates within weeks after it is applied.

"In Eastern Washington, we can apply rotenone to a lake in spring and plant trout or bass in summer with no ill effects to the game fish," he said. "Our goal is to continue to use rotenone in a safe and environmentally conscious manner."

An SEIS scoping notice on the rotenone issue is available on WDFW's website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/hab/sepa.htm or from Cynthia Pratt at (360) 902-2575.

The two public meetings are scheduled at the following times and locations:

  • Seattle area: June 26, 7 to 9 p.m. at the Doubletree Hotel Seattle Airport, 18740 Pacific Highway South.
  • Spokane: June 28, 7 to 9 p.m. at the North Spokane County Library, 44 E. Hawthorn Rd.