Mad River steelhead hatchery program

NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has approved the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Mad River Winter Steelhead Hatchery and Genetic Management Plan (Mad River HGMP) pursuant to Limit 5 of the 4(d) Rule of the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  The Mad River Hatchery releases winter-run steelhead to support a recreational fishery while minimizing potential risks to natural-origin steelhead, Chinook salmon, and coho salmon in the Mad River watershed in California.

The Mad River HGMP describes the propagation of ESA-listed natural-origin and non-listed hatchery-origin winter steelhead at the CDFW’s Mad River Hatchery for release into the Mad River watershed.  The steelhead program uses both hatchery- and natural-origin broodstock derived from the native, ESA-listed winter steelhead population from the Mad River and the non-listed Mad River Hatchery broodstock.  In addition, the Mad River HGMP includes monitoring and evaluation to assess the plan’s performance in meeting the objectives and their effects on ESA-listed Chinook salmon, coho salmon, and steelhead.

The Mad River HGMP was submitted by CDFW in November 2014, with a request for review under the ESA 4(d) rule, limit 5.  NMFS published notice of its proposed evaluation and pending determination on the Mad River HGMP, and of a draft environmental assessment, and the Mad River HGMP, for public review and comment on March 28, 2016 (81 FR 17143; extended on May 4, 2016, 81 FR 26775). During the public comment period, NMFS received three comment letters.  None of the comments raised issues that required substantive modification of the proposed evaluation or environmental assessment.  Minor changes were made to the Mad River HGMP to address issues raised in the comments.  A Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) was prepared, and signed on February 15, 2017.  In addition, NMFS prepared a biological opinion pursuant to section 7(a)(2) of the ESA considering the effects of its approval of the Mad River HGMP on ESA-listed salmon and steelhead, Southern Pacific eulachon, and their critical habitats.  The biological opinion was signed on December 22, 2016.

As required under Limit 5 of the 4(d) rule, an evaluation and recommendation determination was prepared for the Mad River HGMP.  The final decision by NMFS’ West Coast Regional Administrator to approve the Mad River HGMP was signed on February 7, 2017.  A letter to CDFW approving the Mad River HGMP under Limit 5 of the 4(d) Rule with mandatory terms and conditions was signed on February 16, 2017

For more information, please contact Dan Free, Northern California Coastal Office, at dan.free@noaa.gov or (707) 825-5164.

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