Olympic National Park Issuing Emergency Closure of Recreational Fishing in Most Rivers and Streams

by Amy Myers
Photo by Thomas O'Neill/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Starting October 6, Olympic National Park will be issuing an emergency closure of recreational fishing in many of its river systems in an effort to protect the fish that are at risk of low population numbers.

The news of the closures follows the “ongoing, severe low-flow conditions” of Olympic National Park’s waterways, according to the official release. Because of the incredibly low water levels, the park is closing all recreational fishing in: “Ozette, Bogachiel, South Fork Calawah, Sol Duc, North Fork Sol Duc, Dickey, Quillayute, Hoh, South Fork Hoh, Queets, Salmon, and Quinault Rivers (including East Fork, North Fork, Main Stem).” In addition, the park is closing Cedar, Goodman, Kalaloch, and Mosquito Creeks.

As it turns out, Olympic National Park is actually facing historically low levels in these areas.

“This year’s severe drought conditions have reduced river flows to at or near historic low levels,” the park explained. “This emergency closure is designed to protect fish in areas where severe conditions have reduced river flows to historical low levels.”

Olympic National Park is home to over 75 miles of Pacific Coast, 800 lakes, and 4,000 miles of rivers and streams. Within these vast waterways, there are some of the “most extensive runs of wild salmon, trout, and char remaining in the Pacific Northwest.” In order to ensure the protection of these native fish species, the park works with fisheries biologists and eight treaty tribes to establish angling regulations.

Olympic National Park Hopes to Avoid Further Damage That Fishing May Cause to Affected Populations

The fish in the most vulnerable position are the Pacific salmon, steelhead trout and the federally-threatened bull trout, all of which are native to the park’s waterways. By closing the affected rivers and creeks, park officials hope to protect the spawning habits and migration of these three species from any additional damage that fishing may cause.

“Low water conditions may impede upstream spawning migrations and also increase the vulnerability of salmonids to angling as fish concentrate in smaller and smaller pools,” the release said. “The broad application of this closure is necessary to address angling pressure during these extreme low-flow conditions to better protect Pacific salmon, steelhead trout, and federally threatened bull trout in the park’s rivers and creeks. This closure is consistent with our cooperative managers.”

It is unclear when the park will reopen these rivers and creeks to fishermen again. However, it seems that biologists and officials will be keeping a close eye on water levels and spawning habits in the upcoming weeks.

In order to further help protect native fish species, Olympic National Park advises visitors to clean their boat and gear when moving from one body of water to another.