WDFW seeks input on plan to protect steelhead

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) is looking for feedback on the Department’s draft Coastal Steelhead Proviso Implementation Plan.

As required by the Legislature in the 2021-2023 budget, the proviso directed the Department to develop a plan to protect steelhead for each river system of Grays Harbor, Willapa Bay, and coastal Olympic Peninsula. The public can comment online through Nov. 20, and WDFW will submit the plan to the Legislature in December.

“The Department feels it’s extremely important to include public feedback as part of this process,” said Kelly Cunningham, WDFW fish program director. “We encourage the public to dig in to the draft plan and share their perspectives with us so that we can incorporate their feedback as we finalize the report.”

The plan includes guidelines and information about recreational fishery regulations, monitoring and evaluation, hatchery operations, habitat restoration, economic vitality and other considerations. Other plan elements include budget projections and critical research needed for successful implementation. It also details a communications strategy to enhance public awareness about coastal steelhead management.

The draft plan was informed with feedback from WDFW’s Ad-Hoc Coastal Steelhead Advisory Group, which has been meeting publicly over the past year.

On Nov. 17, WDFW staff will brief the Fish and Wildlife Commission’s Fish Committee about the latest updates associated with coastal steelhead pre-season planning and the development of the Coastal Steelhead Proviso Implementation Plan. The Commission will also receive a briefing during its Dec. 8-10 hybrid meeting in Clarkston.

In addition to this work, WDFW is also hosting a Nov. 28 virtual town hall, which marks the third meeting in a three-part series, intended to gather feedback as part of a separate process associated with 2022-2023 coastal steelhead pre-season planning. Pending funding, WDFW anticipates plan implementation will begin with the 2023-2024 coastal steelhead season.