Closing hatchery hurts Valley jobs

One thing is for certain, in good times and in bad, there is always someone who just wants to fish.

Fishermen can be found along the banks of the Snoqualmie River below the Falls in the worst of weather. Small campfires and steaming coffee can be found near many of the fishermen as they hunt for that elusive steelhead. My own father would spend hours on the banks of the Snoqualmie along State Route 202, then spend hours talking to his fishing buddies about how much better he would do next time he went out. It’s an addiction for many folks, a good one at that, and it’s all in jeopardy.

Last week we published a story about the Tokul Creek Fish Hatchery possibly closing due to budget cuts and concerns about wild steelhead competing with hatchery fish. What amazes me is how short-sighted a state agency, focused on wildlife, can be.

I’m sure that budgets are tight; heck, we are all faced with a shrinking dollar. But the typical answer from government agencies is cutting the programs that have the biggest impact. It’s also typical for government agencies to be short-sighted in finding solutions. Has the state contacted any other private agencies to see if they may help in the maintenance and upkeep of the Tokul Creek hatchery? Have they contacted the Snoqualmie Tribe to see if they may be interested in taking over hatchery operations? Has the state done any impact study on what the decline of fishing in the Snoqualmie River would mean to the local economy? The answer is likely “no,” and whomever the person is that thinks that hatchery fish are endangering wild fish, the average person would say a fish is a fish. They catch the same, taste the same and contribute to the local economy the same.

Write your state legislator and ask them to support keeping the Tokul Creek Fish Hatchery open. I would also urge the Department of Fish and Wildlife to contact the Snoqualmie Tribe to see if there is an interest in them helping keep it open. It would really be a shame if we lost one more part of our way of life, sitting in freezing weather, near a small campfire and a pot of coffee, doing our best to catch the elusive steelhead.

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