Conservation Groups Says Leavenworth Hatchery Violating Endangered Species Act

July 13, 2014 By: Erin Block

The Wild Fish Conservancy has announced plans to sue several federal agencies for violations of the Endangered Species Act associated with the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery, which they cite has negative impacts on ESA-listed spring Chinook salmon and steelhead on the Upper Columbia River.

Read more in the press release below. 

Leavenworth Hatchery Violating Endangered Species Act

Wednesday July 9, 2014 – Today, the Wild Fish Conservancy, a Washington-based conservation organization, sent a 60-day Notice of Intent to sue the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), the United States Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), and the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) for violations of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) associated with the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery.

The Hatchery harms and kills ESA-listed Upper Columbia River spring Chinook salmon and steelhead, and bull trout through a variety of mechanisms. This “take” of threatened and endangered species violates section 9 of the ESA. Indeed, the Hatchery has no ESA authorization whatsoever for the harm it causes to listed Chinook salmon and steelhead. The Hatchery is out of compliance with the incidental take statement authorizing harm to bull trout and causing more take of this species than permitted.

FWS, BOR and BPA are also in violation of section 7 of the ESA for failing to consult with the National Marine Fisheries Service on the effects of the Hatchery on Upper Columbia River spring Chinook salmon and steelhead and its critical habitat, and for failing to reinitiate consultation on the effects to bull trout. For nearly three-quarters of a century, the Hatchery has blocked over 25 miles of pristine habitat on Icicle Creek, the largest tributary to the Wenatchee River.

“Contrary to popular belief the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery is not helping to recover wild fish. Rather, the Hatchery uses a non-native hatchery stock of salmon and research shows it has been harming wild chinook, steelhead, and bull trout for nearly 75 years and is now impeding their chances for recovery,” said Kurt Beardslee, executive director of Wild Fish Conservancy. “Over the past fifteen years we have worked with local citizens and representatives of state, federal, and tribal agencies to try to get the Leavenworth Hatchery to comply with state and federal law to protect and restore native fish species listed under the ESA and to restore the integrity of the Icicle Creek ecosystem. It is discouraging to realize that yet again the Hatchery blatantly disregards its legal obligations and the needs of the Icicle Creek ecosystem. The saddest part of this is the public is unknowingly paying for it.”

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 Hatchery is operated by FWS and funded by BOR and BPA. 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. Despite repeated attempts, including litigation, the facility continues to be in violation of the ESA.

The group is represented by Smith and Lowney, PLLC, of Seattle.

Wild Fish Conservancy
PO Box 402 Duvall, WA 98019 · Tel 425-788-1167 · Fax 425-788-9634 ·
[email protected]
Contact: Kurt Beardslee, Wild Fish Conservancy, 425-788-1167
Brian Knutsen, Smith and Lowney, PLLC, 971-373-8692