Having spent my entire life in Washington, and enjoyed its natural beauties via my love of fly fishing, I have become hyper-aware and sensitive to the challenges and obstacles that Washington’s wild steelhead populations continue to face. I believe commercial fishing and the degradation of steelhead spawning habitat are the major contributors to declining wild steelhead populations and habitat destruction. Logging in close proximity to a river or its tributaries makes the ecosystem less capable of retaining soil. As a consequence silt and other detriments to steelhead habitat are released into the river. A steelhead needs a gravel bottom in order to spawn. However, the introduction of silt into a river makes less habitat suitable for spawning. Furthermore, silt damages the gills of steelhead, and can be lethal. Wild steelhead are an indigenous species to Washington and have been a part of Pacific Northwest culture for hundreds of years. Already on the verge of extinction, I believe we as a community need to recognize the dire situation of Washington’s wild steelhead and act. Advocating for tighter commercial fishing regulations and the cessation of logging in close proximity to Washington’s rivers and their tributaries is a step in the right direction. Ultimately, there needs to be some change in legislature to protect this dying species.
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