Snider Creek steelhead enhancement

Suspect the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife of wanting to shut down hatchery steelheading in Western Washington completely? Think that the opportunity to catch and keep a fin-clipped steely is already too hard to find? Then take a look at the cooperative Snider Creek steelhead facility ne

ar Forks and wonder whether the agency has already decided to close its doors.

The Snider Creek program was created in 1986 as a joint project involving the state and the Olympic Peninsula Guides’ Association to increase fishing opportunities for steelhead on the Sol Duc River. The program is unlike most other hatchery efforts in that it produces offspring from wild steelhead rather than hatchery fish. A whole bunch of guides and Forks-area anglers have put in a tremendous amount of effort over the years to enhance Sol Duc steelhead numbers with adapted Sol Duc broodstock.

The 25-year contract for the program, which produces 50,000 smolts annually, expires this month and, of course, the state is thinking of doing away with what appears to be a very good thing.

The agency will accept public comments through June 30 on proposed management options for the program, and will host a public meeting June 9, 6-8 p.m., at its North Puget Sound Regional Office, 16018 Mill Creek Blvd., Mill Creek (425-775-1311). The range of options include the possibility of declaring the Sol Duc a so-called “steelhead gene bank,” where no hatchery steelhead would be allowed at all — wild stock or not.

It appears to this long-time steelheader that the program has been consistently accomplishing what it was designed to do, at little cost to the state, and with little risk to what is a healthy stock of wild Sol Duc steelhead.

Read the agency’s analysis of the program and its list of management options at http://wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/fisheries/snider_creek/, then attend the meeting or e-mail your comments to snidercreek@dfw.wa.gov, or mail to: Snider Creek, 48 Devonshire Road, Montesano, WA 98563.

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