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Steelhead on the Brink By Natasha Dworkin

Saving Washington’s State Fish from Extinction On a misty, cool Pacific Northwest morning, beneath moss-draped evergreens, our tall rubber boots are trudging through verdant undergrowth toward the remote banks of the Duckabush River. Dressed in waders, we are on a mission: packing nets, snorkels, hoses and a machine that looks like a giant shop-vac. If all goes well, when we return down this path a few hours from now, we’ll be carrying hundreds of tiny seeds of hope for Washington’s imperiled state fish. We’re on our way to search for wild steelhead redds-- the loose, piled gravel nests that steelhead construct in the rivers and streams of our region; where they lay their eggs before returning out to sea. An experienced eye can easily spot a steelhead redd through the rippling water and amidst a gravelly camouflaged background. Fortunately, our

team includes two of the best steelhead redd surveyors around. Rick Endicott and Joy Waltermire, employees of Seattle-based non-profit Long Live the Kings (LLTK), have been seeking out steelhead redds in the Duckabush and other nearby Hood Canal rivers for a combined 20+ years. In partnership with NOAA and seven other agencies, they’ve been working on an expansive, basin-wide and scientifically based effort to revive struggling steelhead runs in three different rivers that empty into Hood Canal. Their work on the Hood Canal Steelhead Project is aimed at discovering whether or not salmon hatcheries can effectively play a role in helping to sustain wild steelhead populations in rivers where they might otherwise disappear. The Project, begun in 2007, has shown impressive results as well as

the potential to dramatically improve the ways that salmon and steelhead are managed in the long term, in Hood Canal and beyond. Here’s how it works: Rick and Joy (LLTK’s Lilliwaup Creek hatchery manager and steelhead biologist, respectively), often accompanied by staff and volunteers from one or more of the other partnering agencies, survey for steelhead redds on three different Hood Canal rivers-- the Duckabush, Dewatto, and South Fork Skokomish. Fertilized eggs are removed, or “pumped,” from the steelhead nests and brought into a hatchery environment to be reared until they are large and healthy enough to survive on their own in the wild. At that point, they are returned to their natal streams to be released. They live out the rest of their lives just as they would have had

The Seaplane and Boating Destination Magazine

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HARBORS Fall/Winter 2013  

The Seaplane and Boating Destination Magazine

HARBORS Fall/Winter 2013  

The Seaplane and Boating Destination Magazine

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