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Chief Joseph salmon hatchery to open June 20; tours offered

The Chief Joseph Hatchery on the Columbia River near Chief Joseph Dam will be dedicated by the Colville Tribe on June 20, 2013.  (Courtesy)
The Chief Joseph Hatchery on the Columbia River near Chief Joseph Dam will be dedicated by the Colville Tribe on June 20, 2013. (Courtesy)

FISHING -- The Chief Joseph Hatchery, designed to release up to 2.9 million chinook salmon into the Columbia River, will be dedicated and tours will be offered on Thursday (June 20) during a celebration organized by the Colville Confederated Tribes.

The $50 million state-of-the-art hatchery, between Bridgeport and Chief Joseph Dam, has been built with funding from the Bonneville Power Administration in cooperation with state and federal agencies. It will be managed by the tribe.

 The facility will provide chinook for the tribe, boost Columbia sport fishing and facilitate reintroduction of spring chinook to the Okanogan River.

Read on for more details and a schedule of events and tours for the Thursday ribbon-cutting celebration.

The construction and program implementation was a collaborative effort between the Colville Tribes, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Bonneville Power Administration and Grant County Public Utility District. Additional partners include the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, Douglas County Public Utility District and Chelan County Public Utility District.

The completed project is due in part to a historic 2008 agreement, the Columbia Basin Fish Accords, that enables a greater level of cooperation between the federal agencies in the Northwest responsible for salmon recovery efforts and the tribes, as well as providing assured funding for numerous projects over a 10-year period.

The main hatchery facility is located on 15 acres of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers property on the north bank of the Columbia River within the boundaries of the Colville Indian Reservation. The Colville Tribes will manage the hatchery under guidelines recommended by the Hatchery Scientific Review Group, a committee of scientists that reviewed all salmon and steelhead hatcheries in the Columbia Basin at the request of the U.S. Congress.

The complex will include 40 raceways (10 feet by 120 feet), three rearing ponds and three acclimation ponds (both onsite and offsite at the Okanogan River). It will draw water from a combination of production wells and the reservoir behind the dam, Rufus Woods Lake.

The hatchery will help to rebuild naturally spawning salmon runs in areas impacted by the construction and operation of the Federal Columbia River Power System as well as provide partial mitigation for hydroelectric project impacts to Upper Columbia chinook salmon associated with the operation of the Mid-Columbia Public Utility District dams on the Columbia River.

The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation will host the First Salmon and Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony on June 20. The activities, which are open to the public, will take place at both the Chief Joseph Hatchery administration building off of State Park Golf Course Road east of Washington State Route 17 and at a park adjacent to the hatchery.


Thursday, June 20
Master of Ceremonies: John Sirois, Colville Business Council Chairman

8 a.m. First Salmon Ceremony, Chief Joseph Hatchery Admin. Building
• Opening prayer and song, Lionel Orr, Colville tribal elder
• Capture first salmon, fillet and present to cook (at fish ladder)
• Storytelling and honoring tribal elder fishermen (Admin. Building)

10:30 a.m. Chief Joseph Hatchery ribbon-cutting celebration, park near hatchery
• Welcoming by John Sirois, Colville Business Council chairman
• Elder Prayer
• Speakers:
Colville Confederated Tribes – John Sirois, Colville Business Council chairman; John Smith, former Fish and Wildlife director
Bonneville Power Administration – Bill Drummond, administrator; Lorri Bodi, vice president, Environment, Fish and Wildlife
Northwest Power and Conservation Council – Tom Karier, Council member
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Bruce A. Estok, commander, Seattle District
Grant County PUD – Terry Brewer, commission president
Washington State Dept of Fish & Wildlife– Phil Anderson, Director

12 p.m. Luncheon, park near hatchery
• Table song – Albert Andrews, Colville tribal elder (sharing of the first salmon)
• Recognition of project partners – John Sirois and Randall Friedlander, interim Fish and Wildlife director
• Introduction of recent graduates/hatchery workers – Pat Phillips, CJH manager
• Closing Prayer, tribal elder

1 p.m. Ribbon Cutting

1-3 p.m. Tours, hatchery

Attendees can park at the Quik-E-Mart gas station in Bridgeport where shuttles will transport people to event and back. Look for the parking signs.

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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