Tokul Creek Hatchery may remain open after all

October 14, 2008

By Staff

Rooms full of angry anglers are being credited with perhaps turning the tide against the proposed closure of the Tokul Creek Hatchery in Fall City.

Officials with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife now say they are reversing course and will recommend the hatchery remain open.

Tom Davis, legislative liaison with the department, said keeping Tokul Creek open will be the department’s recommendation when the director makes a final decision Oct. 15.

Davis cited two public hearings in September, in Mill Creek and Issaquah, as convincing state officials that closing the hatchery would be a grave error.

“We had exceptional turnout at both meetings,” he said, “and whenever we get that kind of turnout, with that kind of interest, we pay attention.”

Ramifications of the decision locally means the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery won’t see any changes in its manning levels, which is good news for Gestin Suttle, executive director of Friends of Issaquah Salmon Hatchery.

“From our standpoint, we’re thrilled,” Suttle said. “It shows the Department of Fish and Wildlife listened to the community. Tokul gets to keep its jobs, at least for a year.”

Due to previous years’ budget cutbacks, the Issaquah hatchery only has two permanent employees and relies upon Tokul to provide additional manning support. Suttle said she feared cutbacks at Tokul would have severely impacted operations at the Issaquah facility.

State Rep. Glenn Anderson, a Fall City resident, said news that Tokul Creek will remain open is very positive, but that the hatchery will continue to receive close monitoring by his office.

State Sen. Cheryl Pflug said her office has been inundated with concerns from constituents about the closure, and that she, too, has been talking to department officials. While heralding the change of mind, she cautioned that any victory could be short-lived.

“While it now looks like they’re not going to do anything this year, we need to be aggressive to ensure they follow the process,” she said. “We could still have problems in the future.”

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