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Yakama Nation coho restoration hatchery plans move forward

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council on Tuesday moved forward a proposal from the Yakama Nation that would ultimately involve the spending of nearly $9 million to build hatchery facilities aimed at advancing efforts to rebuild coho salmon returns in central Washington’s upper Yakima River basin.

The Council recommended that the tribe be allowed to proceed with “Step 2” activities, which include preliminary design and environmental review, for the Holmes Ranch component of the coho program.

The Council leads a three-step process for assessing the scientific and economic credibility of capital projects such as hatchery construction.

The Bonneville Power Administration, which markets power generated in the Federal Columbia River Power System hydro projects, funds fish and wildlife restoration projects as mitigation for impacts of hydro projects.

In this case, funds are earmarked for coho and chinook mitigation under memorandums of understanding signed in 2008 by tribes and the federal “action” agencies, which include BPA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation. The Corps and Bureau operated FCRPS dams.

An Oct. 1 staff memo to the Council says that “Capital funds totaling $7,700,000 are reserved in MOA budgets between the YN and the FCRPS Action Agencies for a coho production facility construction. It is important to note that there is a discrepancy between the total estimated construction costs in the master plan for the Holmes Ranch and the MOA reserve. This discrepancy will be further refined as the project progresses through design and reviews steps.

“Though the master plan addresses the needs for both chinook and coho, the priority at this time for the YN is to implement only the Holmes Ranch coho hatchery program,’ according to the Council memo. The proposed major elements associated with the coho hatchery include the following:”

-- New intake screens and a surface water pump station will provide water to the hatchery from the upstream entrance to the side channel;

-- Stop- log supports to be installed in the Cascade Irrigation District’s screen structure will allow surface water to be diverted into the side channel;

-- Three new wells will supply groundwater and provide redundancy;

-- A new centralized degassing head box will be installed for groundwater treatment and supply;

-- A new 28,000-square-foot hatchery and administration building will be designed for the coho incubation and rearing program. Water re-use systems will provide a 25 percent make-up flow for the program to produce high-quality fish using the limited available water supply;

-- New adult holding and spawning facility;

-- New cleaning waste treatment pond;

-- Two new 2,000-square-foot residences.

The Holmes Hatchery integrated conservation program is intended to produce 500,000 par and 200,000 smolts to be released in the upper Yakima, and a tributary, the Naches River.

The program will be set at the level needed to produce sufficient parr and smolts to seed newly opened or restored stream habitat and the adults needed for natural production and broodstock to operate the segregated program.

The Yakima River originates at the outlet of Lake Keechelus and runs for 214 miles in a southeasterly direction to its confluence with the Columbia River at Richland.

With its tributaries, the Yakima River drains about 6,150 square miles or 4 million acres, according to the NPCC memo.

The headwaters of the Yakima subbasin originate in the high Cascade Mountains, with numerous tributaries draining subalpine regions within the Snoqualmie National Forest and the Alpine Lakes, Norse Peak, and William O. Douglas Wilderness areas. Major tributaries include the Kachess, Cle Elum and Teanaway rivers in the northern part of the subbasin. The Swauk, Taneum, Umtanum, Manastash, and Wenas creeks drain into the upper and middle Yakima River. The Naches River and Ahtanum, Toppenish, and Satus creeks join the Yakima in the middle subbasin from the west.

Story courtesy Columbia Basin Bulletin, used by permission.

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