The Klickitat River in southern Washington is among the crowned jewels of the Pacific Northwest. Long revered for its large native steelhead and spring Chinook, the river has some of the most intact habitat for fish and wildlife in the Middle Columbia Region.
Unfortunately, decades of hatchery released non-native Coho, Skamania steelhead and fall Chinook threaten the survival of Klickitat native salmon and steelhead. Since 1999, native Klickitat winter and summer steelhead have been listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Similarly, the native run of wild spring Chinook which once numbered in the thousands has a thirty year average of 300 fish.
Potential expansion of hatchery operations in the Klickitat basin, detailed in the July of 2011 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) released by Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and the Yakama Klickitat Fisheries Project (YKFP) will further imperil the river’s wild native salmon and steelhead.
The actions within the DEIS do not rely upon the best available science to recover wild native fish, jeopardizing wild runs by continuing most releases of non-native hatchery fish at or above their current numbers.
BPA and YKFP are required to solicit and respond to public comments during the DEIS process. This means that before anything is changed on the Klickitat BPA and YKFP must respond to the concerns raised during the public comment process.