This past summer, anglers united to convince the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) to create Wild Steelhead Gene Banks on the Skagit, Elwha, and Puyallup rivers. We are fortunate to once again have an opportunity to create a much needed gene bank – this time for the Grays and Chinook rivers.
Wild Steelhead Gene Banks are rivers that are managed exclusively for wild steelhead and are not planted with hatchery steelhead. As a result, these rivers are wild steelhead sanctuaries, where wild fish populations can recover without the negative impacts of hatchery fish.
Over the past year, the Wild Steelhead Coalition (WSC) and the Native Fish Society (NFS) have participated in a collaborative work group with diverse stakeholders to help WDFW select the next Wild Steelhead Gene Bank in SW Washington. After considering all of the selection criteria such as health of the wild populations and habitat, WSC, NFS, and the majority of work group stakeholders voted in favor of designating the Grays and Chinook rivers as the next Wild Steelhead Gene Bank.