Lawsuit Filed to Stop Elwha Hatchery Program

Lawsuit Filed to Stop Elwha Hatchery Program
Map courtesy of USGS

Wild Fish Conservancy, The Conservation Angler, the Federation of Fly Fishers Steelhead Committee, and the Wild Steelhead Coalition filed a lawsuit last week against the Olympic National Park, NOAA Fisheries Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and representatives of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe in an effort to save the Elwha River's native steelhead, chinook salmon, and the killer whales in Puget Sound that depend upon these fish.  The suit claims by operating a fish hatchery on the Elwha River, these groups are violating the Endangered Species Act.

The US government spent $325 million to remove the (damn) dam on the Elwha, creating an unprecedented chance to restore native salmon populations that had never been tainted by hatchery fish genetics.   The dam, while separating anadromous fish from their ocean, ensured no hatchery salmon made it to the upriver spawning grounds.  Now with the dam gone, anadromous fish can once again migrate to the sea, and all evidence suggests the river should expect impressive returns of purely wild salmon in the coming years.

Nonetheless, the government agencies charged with recovering wild salmon in the Elwha have bowed to the Klallam Tribe's desire to build a massive hatchery in the basin that will fill the river with various salmon species, including Chamber's Creek steelhead--an inbred stock selected because it survives well in cement holding tanks.  The agencies call the hatchery a "recovery tool," but all science on the matter suggests otherwise.

Though the tribe too wants wild salmon to thrive, they want to protect their traditions of harvesting salmon.  They see the hatchery as an insurance policy; in case the wild fish are slow to recovery, the tribe members will still have fish to kill.  Unfortunately, that "insurance policy" may become the very factor that hamstrings wild fish recovery.


The conservation groups are represented by Smith and Lowney, PLLC, of Seattle.  A response is expected shortly.


Map courtesy of USGS


Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

Recommended for You

Chip's Monster Magic. Designed in Saskatchewan's pike paradise - works anywhere. Fly Tying

Fly Tying Chip's Monster Magic Fly

Dwayne 'Chip' Cromarty - January 15, 2016

Chip's Monster Magic. Designed in Saskatchewan's pike paradise - works anywhere.

Here's a look at 8 new fly lines for 2019. Lines

8 New Fly Lines for 2019

Fly-Fisherman

Here's a look at 8 new fly lines for 2019.

Fly Fisherman's documentary Industry

Fly Fisherman Magazine Documentary Recognized by Outdoor Writers Association of America

Fly Fisherman - June 24, 2019

Fly Fisherman's documentary "One Path" was recognized with two awards.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Casting Backhand in Tight Quarters

Casting Backhand in Tight Quarters

A backhand cast is when you use your backcast to deliver the fly.

Fly Fishing for Taimen in Mongolia

Fly Fishing for Taimen in Mongolia

Finding giant Mongolia taimen and a state of enlightenment.

Black Beauty

Black Beauty

Master fly tier Charlie Craven discuss the tools and materials needed to tie the Black Beauty.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

As you explore your home water, keep in mind what they are eating to select the best carp flies! Flies

The 15 Best Carp Flies

Jay Zimmerman - September 27, 2016

As you explore your home water, keep in mind what they are eating to select the best carp...

The fly fishing communities in the U.S. and Belize are mourning after twin slayings that occurred on what appeared to be a routine guide trip on Sunday, June 23, 2019 in a shallow lagoon near San Pedro, Brazil. Industry

Fly Fishing Community Stunned by Twin Slayings on Belize Saltwater Flat

Fly Fisherman Online Staff - June 27, 2019

The fly fishing communities in the U.S. and Belize are mourning after twin slayings that...

Golden riches in Wyoming's high-country heaven of the Wind River Range. United States

Wind River Range Wyoming

Greg Thomas - July 27, 2015

Golden riches in Wyoming's high-country heaven of the Wind River Range.

See More Stories

More Conservation

Researchers in New England have filmed evidence of Brook Trout spawning in a brackish salt water estuary. Watch the exciting never-before-seen footage here! Conservation

Brook Trout Spawning in Salt Water

Jonathan Wright - October 30, 2017

Researchers in New England have filmed evidence of Brook Trout spawning in a brackish salt...

Starting on October 25, 2017, we will reveal the top nominations for the Fly Fisherman Conservationist of the Year Award sponsored by Sage. Fly Fisherman Conservationist of the Year Nominees Conservation

Fly Fisherman Conservationist of the Year Finalists

Sarah Grigg - November 08, 2017

Starting on October 25, 2017, we will reveal the top nominations for the Fly Fisherman...

 Sandy Moret was nominated for the 2018 Fly Fisherman Conservationist of the Year Award by Harold Brewer, chairman of the board of Bonefish & Tarpon Trust (BTT). Conservation

Sandy Moret: 2018 Conservationist of the Year

Sarah Grigg - December 27, 2017

Sandy Moret was nominated for the 2018 Fly Fisherman Conservationist of the Year Award by...

See More Conservation

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.