OUTDOORS: 2024 Halibut planning moving forward

Klahanie Campground meeting Tuesday in Forks

THE PROPOSED 2024 recreational halibut season will be discussed during a virtual public meeting at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

This meeting will help state fishery managers gather stakeholder input prior to the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) meeting in November, when the Council will take final action on the season structure for 2024.

An August meeting reviewed preliminary 2023 season data and worked with stakeholders to develop a range of preliminary 2024 options focused on general concepts, such as ways to extend the season length and maximize fishing opportunity.

Staff will collect more public input at Wednesday’s meeting and select specific season dates that attempt to balance needs across various fishing communities, including charter and private fishing interests.

California halibut interests are focused on chiseling away future portions of Washington’s recreational quota tonnage for Golden State anglers and have sent hundreds of letters to the council ahead of November’s meeting.

Washington anglers can comment on the catch sharing plan and potential changes through Oct. 30 at https://tinyurl.com/PDN-HalibutQuota.

The meeting also offers WDFW staff an opportunity to provide an overview of the PFMC’s groundfish (bottomfish) biennial process for 2025-2026. The overview provides a general timeline, current recreational bottomfish management measures such as bag limits and depth restrictions, 2023 recreational bottomfish catch and preliminary federal harvest limits for 2025-2026.

The public will have opportunities to provide input on coastal recreational bottomfish management measures at meetings in early 2024.

Klahanie campground

The Olympic National Forest is holding a town hall about the status of Klahanie Campground Site on Tuesday at the Rainforest Arts Center, 35 N. Forks Ave. in Forks.

An update on the conditions that led to the closure of the campground, the current conditions of the site including the river and floodplain and next steps for the site will be provided. The town hall will include presentations from Forest Service officials, staff, and partners.

Multiple trees have been identified as hazard trees within the campground, creating public safety concerns. The closed campground is also located within the floodplain of the South fork Calawah River, which floods annually during high water events. With a changing climate, the natural movement and flooding of the river increasingly threatens campground infrastructure and stability due to erosion.

With partners, the U.S. Forest Service is working to plan and implement salmon and steelhead habitat restoration efforts within the South Fork Calawah River, including in the vicinity of the Klahanie site while identifying opportunities for sustainable recreation access for the local communities and visitors who value the Klahanie site and recreation access.

Questions and feedback from attendees will also be fielded.

To register for the town hall visit https://bit.ly/klahanietownhall or RSVP to ashepherd @triangleassociates.com.

Treaty fishery

Beginning Monday, Lower Elwha Klallam tribal members will exercise their treaty right to harvest coho from the Elwha River for the first time since two fish-blocking dams were removed from the river between 2011-2014.

A ceremonial and subsistence fishery with a 400-coho quota will be held in the lower 3 miles of the river, from the mouth to the Elwha River Road bridge. The fishery will be a mix of hook-and-line and river nets, and will be closely monitored.

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