BOISE – Idaho fisheries biologists are getting ready to open the doors on a new $13.5 million hatchery they hope will bolster and help restore the population of endangered sockeye salmon.
The Springfield Hatchery is the latest byproduct of efforts in the last two decades by state, tribal and federal fisheries experts to prevent extinction of the fish. The formal dedication of the facility, located near the American Falls Reservoir in eastern Idaho, is scheduled for Friday.
Once open, biologists project the hatchery will be capable of producing up to 1 million juvenile sockeye annually for release into the lakes of the Sawtooth Valley in central Idaho.
If all goes according to plan, the first batch of sockeye smolts could be released as early as 2015, with production increasing to 1 million by 2017 and ideally setting off the return of 10,000 adult sockeye to Idaho rivers and spawning areas as early as 2019.
“This gets us on a road to recovery,” Jeff Heindel, hatchery production coordinator for Idaho Department of Fish and Game, reported the Idaho Statesman.