The state Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is taking public comments through Wednesday, Dec. 15 on the future of a steelhead hatchery program that has been based at Snider Creek, a tributary of the Sol Duc River, for the past 25 years.
A public meeting is scheduled on the issue on Tuesday evening, Nov. 30 in at the West End Sportsman’s Club, 243 Sportsmans Club Road. The meeting is scheduled to run from 6 to 8 p.m.
Fishing guide Bob Kratzer of the Forks-based Angler’s Guide Service, and a member of the Olympic Peninsula Guides’ Association, has been speaking about the future of the Snider Creek hatchery at public meetings in Forks. He said he and fellow guides are concerned that the state may close down the 25-year-old program. He said the hatchery work is funded in part by the City of Forks’ two-percent tourism funds and other local sources, and supported by the work of volunteers. This provides fishing opportunities on the Sol Duc River for local anglers and visitors in winter months when other rivers are low on fish. Ending the program would hurt the economy of Forks and the West End during the off-peak season tourism months of winter, he said.
A press release from the WDFW says the Snider Creek program was created in 1986 to increase fishing opportunities for steelhead on the Sol Duc River. The 25-year contract for the program, which produces 50,000 smolts each year, expires in June 2011. The program produces offspring from wild steelhead – caught by anglers involved in the program – instead of returning hatchery-produced steelhead, said Ron Warren, regional fish program manager for WDFW.
“With the contract expiring next year, WDFW’s fishery managers are evaluating the supplementation program, including its contribution to state and tribal fisheries and its effect on wild steelhead populations,” said Warren in the press release.
“We are looking into the benefits of this program and whether it is consistent with current efforts to protect and restore wild populations,” Warren said. “We’d like to hear from the public before we make a decision on whether to continue, modify or end the program.”
Comments on the program can be submitted by email to [email protected] or by mail to: Snider Creek, 48 Devonshire Road, Montesano, WA, 98563.
In addition, people can submit comments and discuss the program with WDFW staff at the Nov. 30 public meeting Information on the program, including steelhead catch numbers for state and tribal fisheries and annual returns of steelhead to the Quillayute River system, is available on WDFW’s Web site at wdfw.wa.gov/conservation/fisheries/snider_creek/. A copy of the information on a CD can be obtained by calling (360) 249-4628.