The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe has signed a legally-binding agreement to hold off planting any non-native Chambers Creek hatchery fish in the Elwha River in 2012.
The tribe was on a course to plant the non-native steelhead in the Elwha as soon as April.
The agreement applies to the Elwha and its tributaries, and was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma. The interim agreement, signed with the Wild Fish Conservancy, The Conservation Angler, the Federation of Fly Fishers Steelhead Committee and the Wild Steelhead Coalition, grew out of a lawsuit filed by the four groups Feb. 9.
On the right: Hatchery-raised coho feed at the Elwha tribal fish hatchery near Port Angeles. The tribe has agreed to hold off on planting any non-native Chambers Creek steelhead from its hatchery in the Elwha River this year. Photo by Steve Ringman / The Seattle Times
The groups filed suit against federal agencies and officials at the tribe seeking to block releases of the fish into the Elwha, claiming the releases would violate the federal Endangered Species Act by harming wild steelhead, a threatened species.
The agreement, approved and signed by U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin Settle, does not address the substance of that suit or the claims or assertions on the hatchery issue made by either side. The agreement also doesn’t speak to potential releases of non-native steelhead in the river in the future.
In return for the tribe’s commitment, the plaintiffs agreed to hold off on seeking a preliminary injunction in the suit in 2012.More