It is hard for us to wrap our heads around this, but 2016 marks the 15-year anniversary of the Wild Steelhead Coalition. We’ve come a long way since a diverse group of conservation-minded anglers decided to join forces in 2001 following the closure of North Puget Sound steelhead rivers. In honor of our 15th Anniversary, we threw together a list of 15 notable accomplishments that you, our members, have achieved.
Accomplishment 1: In 2001, Wild Steelhead Coalition (WSC) published a groundbreaking report titled “Biological & Economic Benefits of Wild Steelhead Release,” which established WSC’s position on ending all wild steelhead sportfishing harvest statewide in favor of sustainable catch and release fisheries.
Accomplishment 2: In 2002, WSC worked successfully to reduce unsustainable sport harvest limits on wild steelhead by nearly 85 percent, from 30 fish per year to five. Sport harvest was later eliminated altogether to protect struggling wild returns.
Accomplishment 3: In 2004, WSC played a pivotal role in the development of Washington’s Statewide Steelhead Management Plan, the fundamental framework for holistic management of this threatened fish. Four years later, the WSC funded an independent, scientific peer review of the plan to ensure it was sufficient to support the long-term recovery of these iconic fish.
Accomplishment 4: In 2004, WSC developed and advocated for a successful rules proposal to eliminate all sportfishing harvest of wild steelhead in Olympic National Park, protecting wild runs and future fishing opportunity on iconic rivers like the Hoh and Queets.
Accomplishment 5: In 2005, WSC successfully negotiated for a maximum two percent of Columbia River by-catch of wild steelhead in commercial fisheries, instead of the proposed six percent, protecting wild returns and sportfishing opportunity.
Accomplishment 6: In 2009, WSC proposed and helped pass rules to eliminate the retention of wild steelhead from November to February in order to help recover early returning wild stocks.
Accomplishment 7: In 2010, WSC united a large coalition to advance policy combating the outbreaks of the deadly IHN virus that infected hatchery steelhead and threatened to spread to wild steelhead.
Accomplishment 8: In 2010, WSC funded critical research on the historic abundance of wild steelhead in the Columbia River System, which helped create a baseline of wild steelhead abundance to be used for future management decisions.
Accomplishment 9: In 2011, building on their involvement with the development of the Statewide Steelhead Management Plan, the WSC helped establish the Olympic Peninsula’s Sol Duc River as the first Wild Steelhead Gene Bank in Washington State.
Accomplishment 10: In 2012, WSC partnered with the Burke Museum and the University of Washington to host a five-week exhibit titled “The Magnificent Steelhead,” which celebrated the majestic nature of wild steelhead and raised awareness about the plight of this threatened icon.
Accomplishment 11: In 2013, WSC helped fund a critical habitat restoration project on the Skagit River to transform the disconnected Barnaby Slough back into a natural fish factory for wild steelhead and Chinook salmon.
Accomplishment 12: In 2014, WSC played an integral role in the establishment of Wild Steelhead Gene Banks on the Wind, East Fork Lewis, and North Fork Toutle/Green, transforming these rivers into wild steelhead sanctuaries.
Accomplishment 13: In 2014, WSC teamed up with Patagonia and filmmaker Shane Anderson to launch a film tour and influential campaign to “Make Wild Steelhead the Priority” on the Olympic Peninsula, raising awareness for this last wild steelhead stronghold and advocating to conserve it.
Accomplishment 14: In 2015, after a 15-year-long effort, WSC’s proposal to eliminate all sportfishing wild steelhead harvest became a reality statewide. Several other proposals WSC championed limited impacts on wild steelhead on the Olympic Peninsula to preserve future angling opportunity.
Accomplishment 15: In 2016, WSC helped rewild the newly undammed Elwha River and the Lower Columbia’s Grays River by mobilizing a successful grassroots campaign to designate these as Wild Steelhead Gene Banks.
Despite everything we have accomplished over the last 15 years, our work is far from over. Please help us continue our fight to protect wild steelhead and ensure the Skagit becomes a WSGB by donating 15 dollars today on behalf of our 15-year Anniversary.