Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe runs into opposition to fish hatchery

An aerial view of the Lower Elwha Tribe Fish Hatchery in Washington. Photo from Atkins

The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe of Washington remains at odds with environmentalists over a fish hatchery on the reservation.

Congress authorized the hatchery as part of a much broader plan to restore the Elwha River. The federal government removed two dams in order to improve salmon runs that form a critical basis of the tribe's culture and economy.

But the Wild Fish Conservancy claims that hatchery raised fish are harming wild fish in the river. A lawsuit in federal court that was filed in February 2012 named federal officials and individual tribal leaders as defendants.

In March 2014, a federal judge refused to halt operations at the hatchery. The environmental group has taken the case to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals but oral arguments have not been scheduled, AL Jazeera reported.

Robert Elofson, the tribe's river restoration director, notes that the hatchery was never envisioned to be permanent. The facility will go away as salmon runs increase.

“The plan all along has been to phase out the hatchery as far as the Elwha salmon are concerned,” Elofson told Al Jazeera.

Get the Story:
Return of the Fish Wars: Hatchery pits environmentalists against tribe (Al Jazeera 4/22)

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