OLYMPIA - The public has an opportunity to provide input on guidelines that will shape the management of Puget Sound salmon hatcheries for years to come.
A federal environmental impact statement (EIS) is being drafted to address two resource management plans for state and tribal salmon hatchery operations in the region. The plans were written by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) and western Washington treaty Indian tribes.
The co-managers have submitted two resource-management plans to the federal National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) which administers the Endangered Species Act (ESA). One plan describes hatchery programs that produce chinook salmon; another describes hatchery programs that produce coho, steelhead, pink, sockeye and fall chum salmon.
The plans evaluate the effects that 117 hatchery programs have on Puget Sound chinook and Hood Canal/Strait of Juan de Fuca summer chum salmon, which are protected by the ESA.
Development of the co-managers' resource management plans began nearly three years ago. The process has included several opportunities for public review and input, said WDFW Director Jeff Koenings.
"The federal EIS scoping procedure is the latest step in a lengthy public involvement process to ensure our hatchery operations are effective in their dual roles of providing harvestable salmon while supporting weak-stock recovery," he said. "Public participation has been an essential component of this effort."
The resource management plans are the proposed framework on which the co-managers would operate Puget Sound salmon and steelhead hatchery programs.
"Our plans give us flexibility to adapt hatchery practices and make wise choices to best manage the resource," said Billy Frank, Jr., chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.
Four public scoping meetings have been set for June in different locations throughout the Puget Sound region. Public meetings are set for:
- June 7 - Public Utility District No. 1 of Skagit County headquarters, 1415 Freeway Dr., in Mount Vernon.
- June 8 - NOAA Office, 7600 Sand Point Way N.E., Building 9 Auditorium, in Seattle.
- June 14 - Mary E. Theler Community Center, 2871 NE SR 3, in Belfair.
- June 15 - Jefferson County Public Library, 620 Cedar Ave., in Port Hadlock.
All meetings are scheduled from 6-8:30 p.m. NMFS is accepting written comments and suggestions through July 10 to ensure that the EIS considers the full range of potential issues.
Comments must be received by NMFS no later than July 10. Send correspondences to Allyson Ouzts, 525 NE Oregon St., Suite 510, Portland, OR., 97232. Comments can also be sent via fax at (503) 872-2737, or via e-mail at PShatcheryEIS.firstname.lastname@example.org.