Nonnative steelhead will not be introduced into the Elwha River and its tributaries this year, say four conservation groups that in February filed suit against federal agencies and officials of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe (in their official capacities) for releases of hatchery fish into the Elwha. The groups announced that they have reached an agreement with the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe (LEKT), where the four groups agreed not to seek a preliminary injunction against the LEKT’s release of hatchery-raised “Chambers Creek” steelhead, and the LEKT agreed not to release those fish this year. Normally, the fish would have likely been released sometime in April.
On February 9, 2012, the four groups, Wild Fish Conservancy, The Conservation Angler, the Federation of Fly Fishers Steelhead Committee, and the Wild Steelhead Coalition filed suit in the US District Court for Western Washington in Tacoma against the Olympic National Park, NOAA Fisheries Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and representatives of the LEKT, alleging violations of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The agreement on not releasing fish in 2012 was filed with the same Court, and was approved and signed by Judge Benjamin H. Settle on Monday, February 27, 2012. After many years of negotiation with the owners of the two Elwha dams, the dams were removed in 2011, opening the river to wild steelhead restoration.