I attended the Dec. 3 Tri-State Steelheaders meeting to hear the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s fisheries biologist Glen Mendel speak.
I had heard rumors for six months that the Tucannon River could be closed to fishing. Supposedly, this was the result of Mendel’s failure over the last several years to restore native or endemic steelhead (defined as any steelhead with an unclipped adipose fin) to levels consistent with federal guidelines.
Upon completion of his presentation, the status of the steelhead on the Tucannon, he took a few questions and seemed to be satisfied that this was all the “public comment” that he was required to undertake. The major push back to his plan came from several landowners along the Tucannon.
To say that they were upset is an understatement. Mendel seems to have his own agenda and has failed to involve the major parties in this issue from the beginning: The aforementioned landowners, the nearby businesses, the people of Starbuck, the fisherman and hunters in the state of Washington and the voters in the state who have paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to restore the steelhead fishery in the Tucannon!
Mendel’s disregard for unintended consequences and the lack of transparency here is egregious. For example, many of the landowners have generously made their land along the Tucannon open to access (for generations) to fisherman and hunters. Will these same landowners continue to provide hunters access to their land if Mendel has his way and closes the river to fishing?
There are members of his own organization who are concerned about this poorly planned approach and the resulting unintended consequences.
In summary, the public comment part of his approach has been abysmal. This plan has been put forward without the input of the involved constituents. This was paid for by money provided by the sale of fishing and hunting licenses.
To place failures both past and present on the backs of the stakeholders is contemptible! Let’s fight this to preserve our continued right to fish and hunt along the Tucannon River in Eastern Washington!