Recycled Steel(head)

Beginning this week, Tacoma Power will begin a "recycling" program for steelhead trout in the Cowlitz River.

Anglers in Washington State will get a second chance to catch up to 1,600 hatchery-reared summer steelhead moving through the Cowlitz River, thanks to a partnership between Tacoma Power and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

During July and August, up to 1,600 hatchery summer steelhead will be captured at the hatchery, marked to show they are being recycled, then transported by Tacoma Power downstream to the I-5 boat launch from where they can migrate up the stretch of river for a second time.

Before undertaking the program, WDFW contracted with the U.S. Geological Survey to conduct a two-year study to determine, in part, how often recycled hatchery steelhead released in the lower Cowlitz stray into small tributary streams, where they could compete with wild steelhead. The study showed hatchery steelhead rarely moved into these smaller streams in the lower Cowlitz.

"We're excited to provide additional opportunities for steelhead fishing while remaining true to our commitment to protect and conserve wild steelhead," said Cindy LeFleur, WDFW regional fish manager.

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