Fish Conservancy on July 9 filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish
and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the Bonneville Power
Administration for alleged violations of the Endangered Species Act associated
with the operation of central Washington’s Leavenworth National Fish
Washington-based conservation organization says the hatchery harms and kills
ESA-listed Upper Columbia River spring chinook salmon and steelhead, and bull
trout through a variety of mechanisms. That “take” of threatened and endangered
species violates section 9 of the ESA, according to the notice.
group says that the hatchery and the fish it produces causes take of listed
wild fish through a variety of harmful mechanisms, including facility effects,
genetic introgression, ecological interactions, broodstock collection
activities, monitoring and evaluation activities, and disease transmission.
the hatchery has no ESA authorization whatsoever for the harm it causes to
listed chinook salmon and steelhead,” according to the conservation group. “The
hatchery is out of compliance with the incidental take statement authorizing
harm to bull trout and causing more take of this species than permitted.”
notice says the USFWS, BOR and BPA are also in violation of section 7 of the
ESA for failing to consult with the NOAA Fisheries on the effects of the
hatchery on Upper Columbia River spring chinook salmon and steelhead and its
critical habitat, and for failing to reinitiate consultation on the effects to
nearly three-quarters of a century, the hatchery has blocked over 25 miles of
pristine habitat on Icicle Creek, the largest tributary to the Wenatchee
River,” according to the conservation group.
to popular belief the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery is not helping to
recover wild fish. Rather, the hatchery uses a non-native hatchery stock of
salmon and research shows it has been harming wild chinook, steelhead, and bull
trout for nearly 75 years and is now impeding their chances for recovery,” said
Kurt Beardslee, executive director of Wild Fish Conservancy.
the past fifteen years we have worked with local citizens and representatives
of state, federal, and tribal agencies to try to get the Leavenworth Hatchery
to comply with state and federal law to protect and restore native fish species
listed under the ESA and to restore the integrity of the Icicle Creek
ecosystem. It is discouraging to realize that yet again the hatchery blatantly
disregards its legal obligations and the needs of the Icicle Creek ecosystem.
The saddest part of this is the public is unknowingly paying for it,” Beardslee
Wild Fish Conservancy has over the years challenged, particularly, state and
federal hatchery actions that they say harm to naturally producing fish
populations. Those challenges include recent actions against the state of
Washington for its use hatchery steelhead derived from one creek, Chamber, to
populate numerous other river basins in the Puget Sound area and against
federal agencies, claiming they violated the National Environmental Policy Act
in approving plans to release hatchery fish to the Olympic Peninsula’s Elwha
judges too have recently been hearing hatchery vs. wild arguments filed against
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife operations of hatcheries in the Sandy
and McKenzie river basins.
Leavenworth National Hatchery was constructed between 1939 and 1941 near
Leavenworth, Wash., and is located on the banks of Icicle Creek approximately
three miles from its confluence with the Wenatchee River, which in turn feeds
into the Columbia River.
Leavenworth notice says that the take of wild fish occurs when two structures
constructed in the dam as part of the hatchery’s rearing infrastructure impede
or block migration of Upper Columbia River steelhead, Upper Columbia River
spring-run chinook salmon and/or threatened bull trout, including spawning and
in spawning migration prevent successful spawning and cause spawning in less
desirable habitat. Take also occurs when the ESA-listed fish are injured and/or
killed attempting to migrate past Structure 2, Structure 5, and/or the water
of Upper Columbia River steelhead, Upper Columbia River spring-run chinook
salmon and coterminous United States bull trout occurs when the hatchery’s
effluent discharges and/or use of water adversely affect the water quality of
Icicle Creek, including the water temperature,” the notice says.
through genetic introgression occurs when these hatchery fish are allowed to
spawn in the wild and thereby pass their maladaptive genes to the wild Upper
Columbia River spring-run chinook salmon. The resultant offspring have markedly
reduced fitness, dying at a much higher rate at pre-adult life stages and
producing fewer mature adults that return to spawn than would occur with two
conservation group also says the hatchery errs by using chinook broodstock that
is not native to the upper Columbia, and that fish “become domesticated in a
hatchery environment and thereby less fit to survive and reproduce in the wild.
notice can be found at: