In 2008, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) committed to creating wild steelhead gene banks (WSGB) in Puget Sound – steelhead sanctuaries that will forever protect wild steelhead from the threat of hatchery steelhead. Fast-forward to the summer of 2015, WDFW initiated a public comment period to examine which Puget Sound watersheds should be designated as wild steelhead gene banks. The result was as clear as day – a whopping 91 percent of respondents (869 of 959 people) strongly supported the designation of the Skagit as a WSGB.
Not only is the Skagit the clear choice of the public, but it also passes WDFW’s established criteria with flying colors. Simply put, the Skagit has everything WDFW deemed critical for being a successful gene bank. It has a zero percent extinction risk. It has minimal gene flow. And it has diversity – one of only two rivers under consideration with both winter and summer runs. Morever, it has extensive collaboration between federal, state, local government, NGO, and tribal partnerships that are working together to implement one of the state’s most extensive steelhead monitoring frameworks.
If WDFW is truly prioritizing success then the Skagit is an obvious choice for designation as a wild steelhead gene bank. Please take a minute to reiterate that fact to WDFW today.