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.

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

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Fly Fishing for Taimen in Mongolia

Fly Fishing for Taimen in Mongolia

Finding giant Mongolia taimen and a state of enlightenment.

Casting Backhand in Tight Quarters

Casting Backhand in Tight Quarters

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

 Getting Started In Fly Fishing

Getting Started In Fly Fishing

Getting Started In Fly Fishing

Breaking the Surface

Breaking the Surface

Attack of the Bass continues as Breaking the Surface attacks bass with fly and lure 12:30pm ET Sunday, April 17th.

Trending Articles

You don't always catch large trout in these alpine lakes and streams, but even the small ones are brightly colored treasures. Trout

Alpine Lakes for Remote Monsters

Landon Mayer - April 18, 2018

You don't always catch large trout in these alpine lakes and streams, but even the small ones...

American River California United States

American River California

MIchael Wier - March 23, 2017

American River California

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...

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 Trending Articles

More Conservation

Reauthorized Act Creates New Wild & Scenic Rivers, Protects the Yellowstone, and Creates Umpqua Steelhead Sanctuary. Conservation

Reauthorized Act is to Protect Public Land and Sustain Clean Watersheds

David Karczynski - September 20, 2019

Reauthorized Act Creates New Wild & Scenic Rivers, Protects the Yellowstone, and Creates...

 

 Thompson River steelhead are now officially considered endangered under Canada's Species Conservation

Thompson River Steelhead Now Officially Endangered

Ross Purnell, Editor - February 14, 2018

  Thompson River steelhead are now officially considered endangered under Canada's...

Resurrecting Hat Creek Conservation

More than a bridge over troubled waters.

Chip O' Brien | Photography by R. Valentine Atkinson - February 11, 2019

Resurrecting Hat Creek

Who will be 2019 Conservationist of the Year?

Sandy Moret
 2018 Conservationist of the Year
In 1981 Moret was the first president of the Conservation

Who will be 2019 Conservationist of the Year?

Fly Fisherman - April 17, 2018

Who will be 2019 Conservationist of the Year? Sandy Moret 2018 Conservationist of the...

See More Conservation

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

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