In an unprecedented management step, The U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service completed the transfer of 160,680 salmon from Warm Spring
National Fish Hatchery in Central Oregon to Little White Salmon National Fish
Hatchery in the Columbia River Gorge at the end of last week.
The move of these spring chinook “reflects the ongoing and
adaptive approach the Service is taking to balance fish propagation, fish
health, and tribal trust responsibilities in the face of sustained warm
weather,” said the USFWS in a press release.
Over a period of two weeks, 160,000 juveniles and 680 adult
fish were transported by truck from Warm Springs NFH, where daytime river
temperatures are exceeding 70 degrees, to Little White Salmon NFH in the
Columbia River Gorge where water temperatures are in the low 50’s, a much safer
temperature for salmon.
“As temperatures in water outside the hatchery rise, it
makes it difficult to keep things cool inside the hatchery,” said Rich Johnson,
fisheries supervisor for the service.
“We needed to work quickly to ensure maximum survival for these fish.”
Staff at both hatcheries, aided significantly by Spring
Creek NFH personnel on site to load fish, and partners from Oregon Department
of Fish and Wildlife, put in long hours to ensure that fish remained healthy
before, during, and after the one hundred mile trip from Warm Springs to Little
“Transferring fish on this scale is exhausting and inspiring
at the same time,” said Mark Ahrens, manager of Spring Creek National Fish
Hatchery in the Gorge. “Thanks to dedicated crews at our hatcheries and a lot
of help from our state partners, we were able to mobilize rapidly – in less
than 24 hours - and do what we needed to do to save these valuable salmon.”
All of the transferred fish are being monitored and are
doing well at their new home in the Gorge. The juvenile fish will be held at
Little White Salmon NFH until temperatures moderate in October and the adults
will be held until spawning in August.
See video footage and images of the fish transfer: http://bit.ly/fishtransferalbum