Colvilles, utilities agree on hatchery for salmon

BRIDGEPORT — After years of discussion, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation have reached an agreement with a federal agency and a utility to build a new fish hatchery in north-central Washington.

The hatchery is part of a 2008 agreement under which federal agencies and tribes pledged to work together toward salmon recovery by upgrading fish passage over federal dams, restoring habitat and utilizing hatcheries.

The estimated $43 million Chief Joseph Hatchery will focus on supporting the recovery of Columbia River spring chinook salmon.

Grant County Public Utility District will pay about $10 million toward construction and 18 percent of the annual operating and maintenance costs. Bonneville Power Administration will pay the remainder of those costs, while the tribe operates the facility.

The main hatchery will be located on the north bank of the Columbia River near the base of Chief Joseph Dam, about 60 miles northeast of Wenatchee. There is no fish passage beyond the dam.

Bob Bernd, the utility district’s commission president, said the agreement allows the district to meet its stewardship obligations in a cost-effective manner.

“We look forward to the day when the Chief Joseph Hatchery will open, and salmon will be restored to our waters,” Colville Business Council Chairman Michael O. Finley said. “Because of this landmark partnership, we can finally and effectively begin to address the loss of this most important natural and cultural resource.”

When complete, the hatchery will produce nearly 2 million summer and fall chinook for reintroduction to the Okanogan and Columbia rivers, and nearly 1 million spring chinook into the Okanogan basin.

Construction is expected to be completed in 2013.

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Rich Landers

Rich Landers

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