Court Action Allows Mad River Hatchery to Start Steelhead Spawning Operations

Media Contacts:
Philip Bairrington, CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist (707) 825-4859
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) personnel at Mad River Hatchery began allowing wild origin steelhead and hatchery origin steelhead to enter the hatchery Feb. 4, to start spawning operations. The hatchery action is based on an amended court-ordered stay, signed by Judge M.M. Chesney, allowing hatchery operations to proceed with conditions agreed to by CDFW and the plaintiff Environmental Protection Information Center.

The court action allows Mad River Hatchery to collect, trap and spawn wild origin steelhead for brood stock for one year. Two of the main conditions of the action were the belief by National Marine Fisheries Service that progress was made on the development of a Hatchery Genetic Management Plan and agreement on the collection of natural origin steelhead trout in the coming year.

“Collection operations went very smoothly today,” said Shad Overton, Mad River Hatchery Manager. “It is critical we include both wild and hatchery origin fish to ensure the best genetic diversity of eggs possible for future releases. Our goal is to release 150,000 yearlings next year.”

Trapping, collection and egg take were delayed due to litigation. Spawning usually starts in January and continues through March. This time window allows the hatchery to spawn returning fish throughout the run. This year’s later start is not expected to affect overall spawning operations.