As most are aware, dam removal on the Elwha River presents one of the greatest salmonid recovery opportunities in the United States. A Fish Restoration Plan was designed to expedite commercial salmon harvests through large-scale hatchery production, but the levels of hatchery production proposed would greatly impede the recovery of wild-producing salmonids (along with the poorly designed monitoring and adaptive management protocols for the hatchery programs).
As our work moves forward with regard to this matter, we recently received official notification from the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe (LEKT) that they have disposed of the 2012 Elwha River Hatchery production of Chambers Creek steelhead making it impossible for these fish to be released into the Elwha River. Most of the fish were released into Horseshoe Lake in Jefferson County, a dead-end lake that does not support anadromous salmonids, while the roughly 400 remaining fish were destroyed.
In response to our litigation, the LEKT Hatchery Managers and Washington State asked the (congressionally established) Hatchery Scientific Review Group (HSRG) to review the Fish Restoration Plan, and that group independently echoed our concerns. We are hopeful the Fish Restoration Plan will be revised to address these issues.
On June 27, 2012, we received these notices from the courts:
- Court rejected the LEKT Hatchery Managers’ Motion to Dismiss in its entirety. The LEKT Hatchery Managers had moved to dismiss the claim against them that their hatchery is causing “take” of Endangered Species Act (ESA)-listed salmonids in violation of section 9 of the ESA
- Court rejected Federal Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss the ESA claims against them (that they are required to conduct an ESA section 7 consultation for the Fish Restoration Plan)
- Court dismissed the claim that Federal Defendants should have prepared an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) under National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for the First Restoration Plan, but did not dismiss the claim that Federal Defendants must supplement their old EIS to address the Fish Restoration Plan