Recommendations for Wild Steelhead Gene Banks in the Lower Columbia River

Category: Management and Conservation

Published: November 25, 2013

Pages: 9


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WDFW is accepting public comments on these recommendations through Dec. 13, 2013 at


Since early 2011, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has been working to develop regional steelhead management plans for watersheds in the lower Columbia River. These plans are designed to reflect the goals and strategies expressed in the Statewide Steelhead Management Plan (SSMP), addressing such issues as hatchery production, natural production, fishing regulations, habitat conditions, enforcement and other key management considerations.

An important component of the regional management plans is the identification of steelhead gene banks, where wild steelhead stocks are largely protected from the effects of hatchery programs. As stated in the SSMP, �"at least one wild stock gene bank will be established for each major population group in each steelhead Distinct Population Segment (DPS),” including those populations that fall within the regional planning area on the lower Columbia River.

During a scientific review, the Department determined which river in the planning meet the criteria established for steelhead gene banks under the SSMP. Working in conjunction with three citizen advisory groups, fishery managers then identified three rivers as candidates for designation as gene banks in the LCR. Following public review, those recommendations will receive consideration for inclusion in the regional steelhead management plans for the lower Columbia River, scheduled for completion by mid-2015.

The Department also plans to include those recommendations in consultations with NOAA Fisheries on several steelhead hatchery programs, currently under review for compliance with the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The Department believes the recommendations to establish gene banks in the three rivers identified as part of the regional planning process will further protect and enhance wild steelhead populations in these key watersheds, while still providing a diversity of fishing options.