Public comments will be accepted through Oct. 5 on updated draft management plans that will be used to operate several hatchery programs in the lower Columbia River.
Of the 17 draft plans developed by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, known as Hatchery and Genetic Management Plans, 15 are for artificial production programs for steelhead and two are for chinook salmon.
The plans describe the operation of the hatchery programs in the lower Columbia River and the potential effects of the programs on wild fish species, including salmon and steelhead, that are protected by the federal Endangered Species Act.
The department updated the draft plans to better reflect current efforts to protect and restore wild salmon and steelhead populations, said Heather Bartlett, the agency’s hatchery division manager.
Public comments, the department’s response and any resulting modifications to the draft plans will be posted on the department’s website. The finalized plans will be forwarded to NOAA Fisheries, the federal agency responsible for implementing the Endangered Species Act.
NOAA Fisheries is currently working to produce a final environmental impact statement on the effect of hatchery programs on protected salmon and steelhead populations in the Columbia River and Puget Sound.
In the coming weeks, the department will be seeking public comment on updated and revised draft plans for hatchery programs in Puget Sound. They, too, will be posted online.
Read the plans: The draft plans are available at wdfw.wa.gov/hatcheries/hgmp or at the department’s office in Olympia. To schedule an appointment to review the plans in person, call 360-902-2782.
To comment: Your comments can be submitted by mail to WDFW Hatcheries Division, 600 Capitol Way N., Olympia, WA 98501, or by sending an email to HGMP_LCRcomments@dfw.wa.gov. Comments must be received by 5 p.m. Oct. 5.