OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) will accept public comments through Dec. 15 on the future of a steelhead supplementation program at Snider Creek, a tributary of the Sol Duc River in Clallam County.
As part of that effort, WDFW has scheduled a meeting Nov. 30 in Forks to discuss the program with the public.
A joint project with the Olympic Peninsula Guides’ Association, the Snider Creek program was created in 1986 to increase fishing opportunities for steelhead on the Sol Duc River. The 25-year contract for the program, which produces 50,000 smolts each year, expires in June 2011.
The program is unlike most other supplementation efforts because it produces offspring from wild steelhead – caught by anglers involved in the program – instead of returning hatchery-produced steelhead, said Ron Warren, regional fish program manager for WDFW.
With the contract expiring next year, WDFW’s fishery managers are evaluating the supplementation program, including its contribution to state and tribal fisheries and its effect on wild steelhead populations, said Warren.
“We are looking into the benefits of this program and whether it is consistent with current efforts to protect and restore wild populations,” Warren said. “We’d like to hear from the public before we make a decision on whether to continue, modify or end the program.”
Comments on the program can be submitted by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by U.S. Mail to: Snider Creek, 48 Devonshire Road, Montesano, WA, 98563.
In addition, people can submit comments and discuss the program with WDFW staff at the Nov. 30 public meeting at the Forks Sportsmans Club, 243 Sportsmans Club Road. The meeting is scheduled for 6-8 p.m.
Information on the program, including steelhead catch numbers for state and tribal fisheries and annual returns of steelhead to the Quillayute River system, is 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.
Since entering into the agreement more than two decades ago, the department has made changes to hatchery operations to support naturally spawning salmon and steelhead populations, said Warren. In addition, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission approved new policies in the Statewide Steelhead Management Plan developed by WDFW to protect and rebuild wild steelhead stocks.
The Washington Fish and Wildlife 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 on the department’s website at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/fisheries/steelhead/.