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Steelhead comment period extended

— The state Department of Fish and Wildlife recently extended the public comment period on a proposal to create wild steelhead gene banks in three tributaries of the lower Columbia River.

The state will accept written comments submitted through Thursday by clicking here.

Recommendations under consideration by the department are also available on that website.

Those recommendations, developed by three state advisory groups over the past two years, would eliminate the release of all hatchery-raised steelhead on the East Fork Lewis River and the North Fork Toutle/Green River watershed as early as next year.

They also would prohibit future releases of hatchery steelhead in the Wind River, which has not been stocked with hatchery steelhead since 1997.

Under the current proposal, the department plans to redirect hatchery steelhead smolts currently earmarked for rivers proposed as steelhead gene banks to other tributaries of the Columbia River.

Final recommendations will be forwarded to NOAA-Fisheries, which oversees salmon and steelhead recovery on the Columbia River.

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