OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will accept public comments through June 30 on proposed management options for a hatchery steelhead program at Snider Creek, a tributary of the Sol Duc River in Clallam County.
After receiving public input on the Snider Creek program last fall, WDFW staff developed an analysis of the program and a range of management options that could include the establishment of wild steelhead gene banks – waters where no hatchery steelhead would be released.
Gene banks are designed to benefit wild steelhead by minimizing the number of competing hatchery-produced fish on the spawning grounds, said Ron Warren, regional fish program manager for WDFW. Possible changes could not only affect the Sol Duc but the Calawah and Clearwater rivers as well, Warren said.
“Stakeholders at our previous public meetings asked for additional information on the risks and benefits of the Snider Creek program,” said Warren. “We have put together that analysis and are now seeking public comment on the range of options, which are consistent with the Statewide Steelhead Management Plan.”
The management options and the analysis of the Snider Creek steelhead program are available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/fisheries/snider_creek/. Those who would like a copy of the information on a compact disc can call (360) 249-4628.
WDFW also has scheduled two public meetings in June to discuss the management options. The meetings are scheduled for:
- June 7 – From 6-8 p.m. at the Forks Sportsmans Club, 243 Sportsmans Club Road, in Forks.
- June 9 – From 6-8 p.m. at the WDFW North Puget Sound Regional Office, 16018 Mill Creek Blvd., in Mill Creek.
The Snider Creek program was created in 1986 as a joint project with the Olympic Peninsula Guides’ Association to increase fishing opportunities for steelhead on the Sol Duc River. The program is unlike most other hatchery efforts in that it produces offspring from wild steelhead rather than hatchery fish.
The 25-year contract for the program, which produces 50,000 smolts each year, expires in June 2011.
With the contract expiring, WDFW’s fishery managers are looking into the benefits of the program to determine whether it is consistent with current efforts to protect and restore wild steelhead populations, said Warren. The analysis includes a review of the program’s contribution to state and tribal fisheries and its effect on wild steelhead populations in the Quillayute River system.
Comments on the management options can be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by U.S. Mail to: Snider Creek, 48 Devonshire Road, Montesano, WA, 98563.
Since entering into the Snider Creek agreement more than two decades ago, WDFW has made changes to hatchery operations to support naturally spawning salmon and steelhead populations, said Warren.
“Plans and policies adopted by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission, such as the Statewide Steelhead Management Plan and Hatchery and Fishery Reform policy, are driving our efforts to protect and restore wild steelhead stocks,” Warren said.
The commission’s hatchery and fishery reform policy is available on WDFW’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/commission/policies/c3619.html. The Statewide Steelhead Management Plan is available at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/fisheries/steelhead/.