A planned fish hatchery on the Skykomish River will use fish collected near Sunset Falls, seen here in 2014, near Index. (Mark Mulligan / Herald file)

A planned fish hatchery on the Skykomish River will use fish collected near Sunset Falls, seen here in 2014, near Index. (Mark Mulligan / Herald file)

New hatchery on Skykomish to end practice of importing fish

A plan to capture fish from Sunset Falls near Index and release them in the river is open for public comment.

INDEX — A planned fish hatchery on the Skykomish River near Index will end the practice of importing steelhead trout from the Columbia River and rely instead on native stock.

Using local fish helps maintain the genetic diversity of steelhead in the Skykomish, state Department of Fish and Wildlife project coordinator Jim Scott said.

A draft environmental assessment for the hatchery is available for public comment through March 8.

“A lot of times the local people have more knowledge about an area,” National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fish biologist Emi Melton said. “We do a public comment period to make sure we didn’t miss anything.”

The hatchery is intended to boost numbers for steelhead in the Skykomish. The native stock has dwindled to roughly 80 to 90 fish in the North Fork Skykomish and about 100 to 200 in the South Fork.

Last year also brought record-low counts of the fish on the Sultan River.

The hatchery will be co-managed by the Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Tulalip Tribes.

“Using local natural-origin fish limits any potential negative impacts to wild fish on the river,” Scott said. “It’s a new path forward for our steelhead programs in the region.”

The new program will collect fish near Sunset Falls to use in the hatchery. The goal is to bolster steelhead numbers in the Skykomish, Melton said.

If all goes according to plan, the hatchery should open in mid-April.

A hatchery is just one step in helping steelhead recover, Scott said. Fish habitat in the the river and along its banks also needs to be improved.

“Hatchery programs help us,” he said. “But long-term we’re not going to be able to have (steelhead) in the Skykomish if we don’t maintain and improve our habitat.”

Talk to us

More in Local News

Closing this bedroom door during an apartment fire in Everett helped contain flames, smoke and carbon monoxide, firefighters say. (Everett Fire Department) 20220120
Crucial move during Everett fire: Closing the bedroom door

Two residents were rescued from a bedroom at the Riverdale Apartments. In all, three were injured.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Stanwood in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
Regulators OK doubling of composting operation in Stanwood

Lenz Enterprises can now handle 150,000 tons a year. Residents worry odors will be a problem.

An alleged impaired driver hit and killed two adults Thursday morning at the intersection of 204th Street NE and Highway 9. (Arlington Police Department)
2 pedestrians die after being hit by allegedly impaired driver

The two adults were struck in Arlington around 2:30 a.m. Thursday at an intersection on Highway 9.

Police respond in downtown Everett after a man collapsed with a gunshot wound Nov. 27, 2021. He later died. (Caleb Hutton / Herald file)
Everett police continue to investigate November killing

Jerome Burnett, 48, died at the hospital. A suspect fled, according to police.

Judge: Sex abuse of former Marysville student violated law

A woman sued the district last year, accusing a longtime art teacher of sexual abuse in the 1980s.

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112
Democrats ready to ditch the other ‘grand bargain’ of 2021

Here’s what’s happening on Day 10 of the 2022 session of the Washington Legislature.

Darrell Cain, Pierce College Puyallup president and incoming Everett Community College interim president
Pierce College Puyallup president picked to lead EvCC for now

Everett Community College’s board chose Darrell Cain as its interim president.

Michael Jensen, left, and Nathan Jensen, right, pick up trash in their encampment that they being forced to clear out of by Parks Department the near Silver Lake on Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019 in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Annual homeless count could shed light on pandemic’s impact

Snohomish County canceled its 2021 point-in-time count. Officials hope this year’s will bring clarity.

Ballots sent for special election on public schools’ funding

Levies to pay for staff, programs, computers and capital projects are on the Feb. 8 ballot across Snohomish County.

Most Read