There has been quite a bit of contention regarding the introduction of hatchery fish into the now dam-free Elwha River. The photos above are the older WDFW facility, I think it’s still active, just currently drained for maintenance. Difficult to find info at the WDFW hatchery site.
I haven’t yet been over to the new $16.4 million Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal facility, built with funding through ARRA. The tribe’s hatchery program was designed to help maintain existing Elwha River fish stocks during dam removal, as well as speed the recovery of the river ecosystem. The hatchery produces chum, coho and pink salmon, and steelhead.
This could been seen as a dramatic victory for the frequently imposed-upon LEKT, who have faced considerable injustices and heartbreak during the century-long appropriation of the Lower Elwha River basin. But there are those that argue that actual river recovery would be delayed and even crippled by the introduction of any hatchery fish to the habitat, even that the Elwha’s recovery program violates the Endangered Species Act:
“…The ‘injustice’ is now self-inflicted, and the “healing” will be sharply curtailed if state, federal and tribal managers proceed with their plan to pollute the freed river with ill-adapted fish, most from a new $16 million hatchery built for the tribe by American taxpayers. The Fish Recovery Plan, as it is called, was written and will be implemented by the tribe, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“In addition to pink, chum and coho salmon the tribe will continue to raise and release non-native Chambers Creek winter steelhead—a top contender for the most inbred and frail of all hatchery stocks. When only five miles of anadromous habitat existed in the river the tribe could make something of a case for this kind of steelhead ranching. Now, to use the word of retired University of Washington fisheries professor Dr. James Karr, it’s ‘insane.’
“If hatchery stock—which has been poured silage-like into all the top habitat in Washington state for the better part of a century—could facilitate salmonid recovery, Puget Sound streams would abound with steelhead and Chinook. Instead they’re in such desperate trouble they require protection under the Endangered Species Act. Chambers Creek winter steelhead—the state’s go-to monoculture stock since the 1960s—were domesticated from a now-extinct, early-run population near Tacoma, then bred to return even earlier. This way hatchery space could be used to full advantage—smolts could be produced in one year, and holiday anglers could catch returning adults before Christmas. Tribal netters, predators and anglers descended on the hatchery-bloated runs, virtually eliminating the early wild-fish component. Wild fish that weren’t killed directly were compromised by hybridization, competition, pathogens and parasites.”
– Ted Williams, from the article How to Kill a Reborn River http://www.flyrodreel.com/magazine/2012/january/kill-reborn-river
Below is Dylan Tomine, speaking to the Elwha River Science Symposium in back 2011-
This is a whole new subculture for me, so I’m pretty neutral on this. It is worth noting that the river channel infrastructure has had difficulties. Almost 200,000 Coho died last spring during a pump failure at the LEKT facility, and this June 14,000 Chinook died at the WDFW run.
A few other links:
A needed detour coming home from work.
This tree farm off of Camp Hayden Rd has always interested me- a very oddly-managed area, mostly cleared except for this silver fir, carefully picked around like gristle on a chicken wing. Every old growth cedar stump has been charred, which now looking at the day’s photos dredges up hackneyed associations with other commercial genocides by fledgeling empires. At least they used buffalo skulls for fertilizer. Even the roadsign seems an afterthought, too small for pride and too tall for shame as they lag on 4×4 risers to extend the height of the sign over the thimble berry and roadside saplings.
Of course these appraisals are stupid and lazy, and were the furthest thing from my mind as I spent the late afternoon meandering through the Salt Creek basin, up and down sandy slide-plagued bluffs, narrow speed trails, and the road now overgrown with clover and thistle, some stretches so carefully matted with arrangements of twigs and branches it’s like Andy Goldsworthy’s sketch pad.
The overwhelming sensation on outings like this is the satisfaction in not missing any of it, no matter how small. It is nourishing, and it all adds up. This growing connection with the local fleshes out daydreams and idle glances, and gives a nice bottom-heavy heft to optimism and even the most casual indulgences. Lately I’ve been carrying my camera gear everywhere. Work, trips to the dump or hardware store, impromptu afternoon walks with the dogs. I even took it up on the roof after I stripped off the shingles, thinking the height might add some post-modern formality to the local view. But with all this saturation coverage, there is the risk of obligation over creativity. Bluntly, like I’m some demented marsupial with an entirely delusional devotion to it’s pouch of inanimate wooden gear. Some sort of trustee whose identity isn’t nearly as important as the entrusted inventory. Whose observances are wholly dependent on their own misappraisal. Amused, I have to wonder- if a tree fell in the forest and crushed me, would it make a sound?