Proposed steelhead gene bank in North Toutle/Green to be discussed

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CENTRALIA — A public meeting to discuss the proposal to end the release of hatchery steelhead in the North Fork Toutle/Green River watershed to support recovery of wild fish is scheduled Jan. 9 at Centralia College.

The session will begin at 6 p.m. in Room 103 of Washington Hall. The campus is at 701 Walnut St.

The North Fork Tout;e/Green watershed is one of three tributaries to the lower Columbia River proposed as wild steelhead gene banks by advisory groups to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The other two tributaries are the East Fork of the Lewis and Wind rivers.

Cindy LeFleur, regional fish program manager, said the purpose of the gene banks is to protect wild steelhead from the effects of hatchery stocks in strategic watersheds around the state.

Gene banks are required under the Statewide Steelhead Management Plan. Wild steelhead in the lower Columbia have been listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act since 1998.

A similar meeting was held in Vancouver in late November. LeFleur said many questions and comments about the North Fork Toutle/Green have come up since then.