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July 8, 2003

Tribe wants more protection for Sauk River

DARRINGTON (AP) -- The Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe is asking the state Department of Ecology to make the Sauk River the state's first "outstanding resource water," which would provide new protections.

The river is already protected under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.

The tribe's petition, submitted more than a year ago, was in limbo until last week, when the state finalized its criteria for listing rivers as outstanding waters.

The tribe's goal is to maintain the Sauk River salmon runs, said Jason Joseph, chairman of the 200-member group. The 20-home Sauk-Suiattle village is close to both the Sauk and Suiattle rivers, about 5 miles north of Darrington.

The tribe now has only a few commercial fishing boats, down from 15 in previous years. But many of its members still rely on the salmon runs.

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