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Effort To Substantially Expand Snake River Sockeye Hatchery Releases Takes Another Step
Posted on Friday, April 22, 2011 (PST)

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council on April 12 approved the Idaho Department of Fish and Game’s “Springfield Sockeye Hatchery Master Plan for the Snake River Sockeye Program,” which gives the state agency the go-ahead to begin more in-depth planning with an ultimate goal of building the facility.


The approval marks completion of step 1 of the Council’s three-step process for evaluating artificial production proposals seeking funding through the Columbia River Basin Fish and Wildlife Program, which is funded by the Bonneville Power Administration.


Step 2 involves environment review and leads to a final design.


Construction of the facility would allow the production of up to 1 million sockeye smolts annually for the re-colonization phase of the project. The IDFG’s Snake River Sockeye Salmon Captive Broodstock Program has slowly built up smolt production to 150,000 and then almost 250,000 last year at existing facilities.


But more rearing space was needed to meet the smolt production goals outlined in NOAA Fisheries’ 2008 Federal Columbia River Power System biological opinion and the 2008 memorandum of agreement between the state of Idaho, BPA and the federal agencies that operate the Columbia-Snake mainstem hydro projects. The BiOp describes mitigation actions that are necessary to avoid jeopardizing fish stocks that are listed under the Endangered Species Act.


The Snake River sockeye were listed as endangered in 1991.


The captive broodstock program researchers have found over time that migration-ready smolts provide the best results in terms of producing adult returns.


“The proposed new Springfield facilities will include a hatchery building with egg incubation stacks, 18 indoor early-rearing troughs, 24 outdoor raceways, and all supporting facilities including three new residences for operators,” according to a March 31 memo prepared by Mark Fritsch, the NPCC’s project implementation manager. “The Springfield site is desirable because of the quantity and quality of groundwater, full isolation from other anadromous salmonids, and because it provides an opportunity to use an existing permitted land use type.”


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