FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Leavenworth Hatchery Violating Endangered Species Act & National Environmental Policy Act
WILD FISH CONSERVANCY
PO Box 402 Duvall, WA 98019 · Tel 425-788-1167 · Fax 425-788-9634 ·
Contact: Kurt Beardslee, Wild Fish Conservancy, 425-788-1167
Brian Knutsen, Kampmeier & Knutsen, PLLC, 503-841-6515
Leavenworth Hatchery Violating Endangered Species Act &
National Environmental Policy Act
Thursday July 23, 2015 - Wild Fish Conservancy, a Washington-based conservation organization, filed suit against the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the United States Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), and NOAA Fisheries Service (NMFS) for violations of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) associated with the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery.
The Hatchery has a long history of disregard for the wild salmonid populations in Icicle Creek and for its legal obligations under federal environmental laws. The Hatchery is owned and operated by FWS and is funded by BOR. The Hatchery blocks salmonid migration, diverts water from the creek, contains features that entrain and trap wild salmonids, discharges chemical and nutrient pollutants, and produces fish that harm wild salmonids through ecological and genetic interactions, among other impacts. All this has contributed to a significant decline in the wild salmonid populations, including those protected under the ESA, and is severely inhibiting their ability to recover.
NMFS issued a new biological opinion (BiOp) for the Hatchery on May 29. By failing to use the best available science as required by the ESA and concluding that the Hatchery operations and maintenance are not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of ESA-listed salmonids or destroy or adversely modify their critical habitat, NMFS is in violation of the law. The BiOp also violates NEPA by not preparing an environmental impact statement (EIS) or an environmental assessment (EA).
“For the past 75 years the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery has been harming both Icicle Creek and its wild fish populations,” said Kurt Beardslee, executive director of Wild Fish Conservancy. Unfortunately even today, with wild salmon, steelhead, and bull trout on the endangered species list, this hatchery is still unwilling to do their part to help protect either the river or its wild fish."
The Leavenworth National Hatchery was constructed between 1939 and 1941 near Leavenworth, WA and is located on the banks of Icicle Creek approximately three miles from the river’s confluence with the Wenatchee River. The watershed originates high in the Cascade Mountains and flows through near-pristine portions of the Wenatchee National Forest and the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. The watershed supports populations of wild chinook, coho, bull trout, and steelhead. Despite over a decade of effort by WFC and partners to collaboratively affect environmental improvements at the hatchery, the facility continues to be in violation of our most important state and federal laws that protect the health of the river and its wild fish.
The group is represented by Kampmeier & Knutsen, PLLC of Portland, OR.