The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is inviting public comment through February 12th on ten proposals to acquire lands that benefit fish, wildlife habitat, public access, and outdoor recreation. One of the proposed projects is the purchase of a road easement and 15 acres of private timberland along the Wynoochee River, a proposal the Wild Steelhead Coalition strongly supports.
The Wynoochee is a popular river in the Grays Harbor basin that produces large numbers of both wild and hatchery steelhead. Located just under two hours southwest of the densely populated Puget Sound corridor, fishing access and opportunity on the Wynoochee helps reduce pressure on other watersheds, including the iconic rivers of the nearby Olympic Peninsula.
However, in 2015 the timber company that owns the land along the upper Wynoochee closed public access to their private forest road, the 7400 Road, and with it, access to the rough boat launch for the river’s prime hatchery float. The company was concerned about too many trucks and trailers parking at this undeveloped access point and along their road, sometimes interfering with their operations.
This private landowner has the right to regulate access on their property. However, closing the Wynoochee 7400 Road has not only limited public access to a popular stretch of river, it has also created a growing threat to wild steelhead because with far fewer anglers on the water harvesting hatchery steelhead, the number of hatchery fish is stacking up. As a result, there is a growing chance of these hatchery fish interbreeding with their wild counterparts, a major risk to wild steelhead.
By purchasing this land, acquiring a road easement, and creating an orderly public parking area and boat access, WDFW will be able to reduce the burden for the private timber company, restore access to a popular, fishy stretch of water, and alleviate the threat of interbreeding between wild and hatchery steelhead. It is a great opportunity to do something that benefits recreational anglers, guides, a private business, and wild steelhead.
Please take a minute express your support for WDFW to complete the purchase of these 15 acres and restore 7400 Road access on the Wynoochee River. Written comments on the proposed acquisition may be submitted through Feb. 12 via email to Lands@dfw.wa.gov or by using our comment form below.
Thank you for your support.