Friday, October 21, 2011

The Wild Fish Conservancy's Wild Elwha Campaign

From the Wild Fish Conservancy:

Protect Wild Elwha Steelhead & Salmon

We need your help at this critical time to protect wild steelhead and salmon and stop the release of non-native steelhead on the Elwha River!

The long-awaited dam removal on the Elwha River is finally underway, marking the culmination of a two-decade effort toward restoring salmon and steelhead to one of Washington’s most pristine rivers. The Elwha dam removal will open up about 70 miles of protected river for spawning fish. Given the amount and quality of the habitat, biologists predict tens of thousands of wild salmon and steelhead could eventually return to the Elwha River above the dams within our childrens’ lifetimes. These are exciting times and we should all celebrate!

But dam removal is only the first step to complete recovery and an all-wild Elwha.The recovery will reach its full potential only if hatchery fish are removed.

The plan of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe is to continue releasing non-native Chambers Creek winter steelhead into the Elwha despite written requests from every responsible agency asking that they discontinue the program. A five-year fishing moratorium will be in place during the dam removal period, so none of these fish will be caught in tribal or sport fisheries; yet some will return to the Elwha, possibly spawning with one of the few hundred wild steelhead that remain. That would effectively nullify the reproductive investment of the wild fish, which are the backbone of the river’s recovery.

An overwhelming demonstrates that hatchery fish will produce fewer offspring, undermine the genetic integrity of wild populations, compete for resources, attract predators, and spread disease to their wild counterparts.

We need your help to ensure a wild future for the Elwha and Olympic National Park! Over the next 30 days, we need to raise $20,000.00 to support our on-going efforts to stop the release of non-native Chambers Creek steelhead into the restored Elwha.

To date we have engaged with state and federal agencies on the issues of concern and on Friday, September 16th, served legal notice that we would file suit against the Olympic National Park, NOAA Fisheries Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife under the federal Endangered Species Act. It's our belief that the fish hatchery plan that the agencies are allowing for the Elwha River violates the ESA by harming Puget Sound Chinook salmon, steelhead, and bull trout without the proper authorization.

Right now the momentum is on our side. We’ve had an overwhelming outpouring of support and the negotiations continue. But we can’t succeed without your help. New challenges and difficult decisions arise every day, but I am confident that with your help, we can continue to meet those challenges.

The time to act is NOW. Please consider making a gift to help us continue this important work. A donation of $5 or $10 would be great. $500 or $1000 would put us that much closer to reaching our goal. Any amount will help. Together we can get this done. Together we can ensure an all-wild Elwha future.

Visit their website to support the Wild Elwha:

http://wildfishconservancy.org/carousel/protect-wild-steelhead-help-wfc-stop-the-release-of-non-native-hatchery-fish-on-the-elwha

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