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January 25, 2016
Contact: WDFW Region 5 Office, (360) 696-6211

WDFW seeks comments on siting gene bank
for wild steelhead on lower Columbia River

WDFW seeks comments on siting gene bank for wild steelhead on lower Columbia River

OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is seeking comments on two options for establishing a wild steelhead gene bank in rivers or streams near the mouth of the Columbia River.

Both options under consideration by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) are designed to support the preservation of wild steelhead populations by prohibiting future releases of hatchery-raised steelhead into specific waters of the lower Columbia River Basin.

One option would eliminate production of hatchery winter steelhead on the Grays and Chinook rivers. The other would prohibit production of hatchery steelhead on Mill, Abernathy and Germany creeks.

WDFW will consider comments on those options submitted through Feb. 5 to TeamVancouver@dfw.wa.gov. Background information on the two sites and the selection process is posted on WDFW’s website at  http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/fisheries/steelhead/gene_bank/columbia_river/

“This is the last of four gene banks currently planned for tributaries to the Columbia River below Bonneville Dam,” said Cindy Le Fleur, WDFW regional fish manager. “Our advisory group was divided on two options, so we’d like to get some additional input from the public.”

The other three gene banks were established on the East Fork Lewis, the North Fork Toutle/Green, and Wind rivers.

Le Fleur said both options now under consideration by the department meet standards outlined in the state’s Statewide Steelhead Management Plan, which calls on WDFW to “establish a network of wild stock gene banks across the state where wild stocks are largely protected from the effects of hatchery programs.”

That plan, adopted by the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in 2008, was based on studies showing that hatchery-produced fish can interfere with wild steelhead in ways ranging from interbreeding to competition for food.