A sign in English and the Klallam language hangs outside the hatchery on the Lower Elwha Klallam reservation, circa November 2011. The facility is a point of pride for the Elwha people, whose four full-time hatchery workers trap, gaff, fertilize, feed, move and tag millions of fish every year. But the $20 million hatchery is also the subject of a federal lawsuit alleging that its production and release of young salmon harms threatened, wild species under the Endangered Species Act.
In the Elwha River, hatchery fish are marked — usually with a fin tag or microchip — to distinguish them from wild fish. In a photograph from November 2011, tribal hatchery manager Larry Ward (wearing a black hat) oversees this process. This year, the Lower Elwha tribe plans to release 175,000 native steelhead trout, 425,000 coho salmon, more than 1 million chum salmon and 3 million pink salmon.