Puyallup Tribe urges state to save Voights Creek hatchery

From the Seattle Times:

Buried deep within the 298 pages of the proposed Senate operating budget for 2009-11 is the possible closure of the Voights Creek Hatchery on the Puyallup River watershed.

The long-standing hatchery in Orting, which has been producing salmon since 1917, pumps out a massive 780,000 yearling coho and 1.6 million hatchery-marked chinook annually.

The Puyallup Tribe has said that closing the hatchery would result in no coho or chinook fishing, and no winter steelhead season on the Puyallup River.

It believes that state funding continues to be put to good use, and to lose it would result in economic loss to Pierce County and other coastal communities in Washington.

“The tribe wants to ensure it remains open, and it is a vital facility to non-Indians, Indians and many others,” said Russ Ladley, the resource protection manager with the Puyallup tribes. “This hatchery makes a huge contribution to fisheries in south Sound, mid-Sound, the Strait [of Juan de Fuca] and Vancouver Island.”

State Rep. Jim McCune (R-Graham) is also speaking out on the possible closure:

“The Voights Creek Hatchery is important to tribal relations, fish in the Puyallup River and our local economy. We cannot afford to lose one of our more productive coho hatcheries in the state,” said McCune, R-Graham. “I understand our state faces difficult decisions with its operating budget, but the possible savings of closing this hatchery do not justify the economic impact it would create locally.”