Final Decision for Five Early Winter Steelhead Hatchery Programs in Puget Sound

NOAA Fisheries is announcing its final determinations on five resource management plans for hatchery programs in Puget Sound. The determinations, prepared pursuant to limit 6 of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) 4(d) rule for listed Puget Sound salmon and steelhead, are that implementation of the five joint hatchery plans for early winter steelhead in the Dungeness, Nooksack, Stillaguamish, Skykomish, and Snoqualmie River watersheds will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of survival and recovery of ESA-listed Puget Sound steelhead, Puget Sound Chinook salmon, and Hood Canal summer chum salmon.

NOAA Fisheries is also announcing its Record of Decision (ROD) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) on its previously-released final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on the five plans.  The ROD documents NMFS’ decision to select the agency’s preferred alternative (Alternative 5) in the FEIS.  The availability of the FEIS was announced in the Federal Register on March 11, 2016.

The plans specify the propagation of early-returning (“early”) winter steelhead in the Dungeness, Nooksack, Stillaguamish, Skykomish, and Snoqualmie River watersheds in Puget Sound.  The plans were jointly submitted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, with the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, the Lummi Nation, the Nooksack Tribe, the Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians, and the Tulalip Tribes for NOAA Fisheries' evaluation and determination under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The hatchery programs described in the plans under NOAA Fisheries’ evaluation are operated by Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) at Dungeness River Hatchery in the Dungeness River basin; Kendall Creek Hatchery in the Nooksack River basin; Whitehorse Ponds Hatchery in the Stillaguamish River basin; Reiter Ponds Hatchery and Wallace River Hatchery in the Skykomish River basin; and Tokul Creek Hatchery in the Snoqualmie River basin.

The five hatchery programs would operate to provide steelhead for harvest in freshwater recreational fisheries, and, to a more limited extent, tribal fisheries in the rivers.  The early winter steelhead are not included as part of the ESA-listed Puget Sound Steelhead Distinct Population Segment, and therefore would not contribute to the recovery of listed steelhead.  Measures would be applied in the five hatchery programs to reduce the risk of incidental adverse genetic, ecological, and demographic effects on natural-origin steelhead and salmon populations.  

For more information on the ESA decisions on the hatchery plans, please contact Tim Tynan, NMFS Sustainable Fisheries Division, at tim.tynan@noaa.gov, (360) 753-9579.

For more information on the NEPA Record of Decision, please contact Steve Leider, NMFS Sustainable Fisheries Division, at steve.leider@noaa.gov, (360) 753-4650.

To view any Puget Sound hatchery plans currently available for public review and comment, please visit our Hatcheries page.

 

Resources

Final EIS Resources

Draft EIS Resources

NOAA Fisheries obtained information necessary to prepare this DEIS  from public comments received during a public scoping phase.  NOAA Fisheries invited comments from all interested parties to ensure that the full range of issues related to the early winter steelhead HGMPs is identified.

Other Resources

NMFS had previously provided a draft environmental assessment (EA) of the effects of three of the five programs, and a DEIS for all salmon and steelhead programs in Puget Sound for public review and comment. Relevant comments received on those prior reviews are considered in developing the EIS.