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Photo by Luke Kelly

Tell NOAA not to compromise on wild steelhead protection EXPIRED

Category: Action Alerts | Posted by: Jonathan | 5/1/15 | Comments: 10

Summary: Time is running out, but we still have the potential to stop NOAA from setting this dangerous precedent that will imperil threatened steelhead populations and all ESA-listed species. Please submit a comment by using the red Take Action link and tell NOAA you will not stand for them undermining federal environmental protections for threatened steelhead.

Photo by Luke KellyWild steelhead are a wonder of nature. Their daunting journey from the river of their birth to the ocean and back is awe-inspiring.  Their sheer strength and ability to traverse seemingly impassable waters is nothing short of remarkable. And they have exceptional power, size, and beauty. These attributes as well as their indelible mystique combine to make wild steelhead the pinnacle of freshwater fishing.

Legend has it that there were once so many steelhead and salmon in Washington’s rivers that you could walk across the water on the backs of fish.  But gross mismanagement of these rivers for the last century has decimated these steelhead and salmon populations, relegating the stirring images of rivers full of fish to a distant memory.  Now wild steelhead populations represent a dismal 3% of their historic numbers in Puget Sound, yet 66% of their historical habitat remains.  As a result, these fish are listed under the Endangered Species Act.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – the federal agency charged with protecting these imperiled fish – government-operated steelhead hatcheries are one of the four known causes for the precipitous decline of wild steelhead populations.  Despite this understanding, NOAA is currently undermining critical federal regulations in a politically motivated effort to expedite approval of Puget Sound hatchery programs.

This undercutting of federal procedures represents a significant departure for NOAA, which spent the last 11 years rigorously developing a comprehensive environmental review of hatchery program’s impact in Puget Sound. NOAA was expected to release the review’s findings this spring but at the last minute suddenly abandoned this 11-year comprehensive review. In its place, NOAA is now conducting a cursory environmental assessment for three hatcheries in three different watersheds.

NOAA is trying to justify this approach as simply a strategy adjustment. However, this dramatic reversal is much more than that.  In reality, it is a precedent setting approach that has the potential to undercut critical protections for not just steelhead but all endangered species, including orca whales, wolves, and salmon. Left unchecked, this decision could have far-reaching implications as it could make federal approval easier for destructive projects across the United States.

Time is running out, but we still have the potential to stop NOAA from setting this dangerous precedent that will imperil threatened steelhead populations and all ESA-listed species. Please submit a comment and tell NOAA you will not stand for them undermining federal environmental protections for threatened steelhead.

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10 Responses

  1. Harry and Mary Piper says:

    Please require EIS on Puget Sound steelhead, not merely an EA. We need to get wild Puget Sound steelhead back!

  2. Hubert Langenhorst says:

    I respectfully request that NOAA require an EIS for all Puget Sound Hatchery programs. Puget Sound wild steelhead have declined to 3% of their historical levels and need to be protected to that this decline does not continue any further. Thank you!

  3. John Lacy says:

    Please provide a comprehensive EIS for all Pudget Sound Hatchery Programs. Pudget Sound is one of the most beautiful places in the continental U.S. It’s ecosystem and wild steelhead population needs urgent action taken to protect the remaining wild steelhead left and the habitat that supports them. Without an extensive EIS done the future is bleak for those wild steelhead that remain.


    John Lacy

  4. Raymond Timm says:

    Dear NOAA, the National Environmental Policy Act has provisions that allow for limiting analyses to an environmental assessment (EA) when there is a finding of no significant impact (FONSI). It is nearly impossible to imagine a FONSI determination, given all the science on hatchery impacts to wild populations of anadromous fishes, particularly steelhead trout. Please ensure that the full significance of hatchery impacts are considered, and issue a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
    Thank you for your consideration.

  5. Glenn Rawie says:

    Save wild steelhead

  6. RONALD TONEY says:


  7. James Fuller says:

    These fish along with many other marine animals are experiencing drastic declines in their populations. They are valuable resources that need every protection we can give them. This is going be difficult to accomplish even with the most complete and comprehensive information. Please don’t cut back on the resources needed to guard against further decline in these fish and the many other species that depend on our protection.

  8. Ron Guerra says:

    After 11 years of NOAA promising an environmental impact statement (EIS) rigorously evaluating Puget Sound steelhead hatcheries, NOAA has suddenly withdrawn its draft EIS and opted for a cursory environmental assessment (EA). By adopting this unorthodox approach and backtracking from an EIS, the federal government is lowering its standards for environmental review, setting a dangerous precedent with respect to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process. Left unchecked, this process will set a dangerous precedent for the future protection of all threatened and endangered species–including orca whales and salmon–and critical habitat across the board, making it easier for harmful projects from industry such as timber and mining to be approved.

    My ask of you is to PLEASE tell NOAA that they need to require an EIS for all Puget Sound hatchery programs.

  9. Francis Reedy says:

    These fish deserve more! Please do the complete EIS in regards to the Puget Sound Hatchery Programs. F M Reedy

  10. Peter Dorn says:

    please find the fortitude to require an EIS for the hatcheries of puget sound witch we know is harmful to the salmonid populations we’ve been mislead for the past century. now is the time to stop the mistakes of the past, sincerely… Peter Dorn

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