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Corps Says Five Oregon Mitigation Hatcheries Could Stay With ODFW, May Solicit Bids For Two Others
Posted on Friday, March 10, 2017 (PST)

Operations contracts at five of seven Oregon mitigation hatcheries that are currently operated by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife but owned and funded by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may actually stay with ODFW.


In early February, the Corps said it would end its cooperative agreements with ODFW to operate the seven hatcheries and would instead solicit bids and award contracts for the hatcheries, effectively privatizing their operations by July 1. ODFW’s 5-year agreements at each of the hatcheries with the Corps will end June 30.


All the hatcheries are operated to mitigate for the loss of trout and anadromous fish as a result of the construction of Corps dams in Oregon.


This week Portland District Corps spokesperson Michelle Helms said the agency is instead hoping to stick with ODFW for operations at five of the hatcheries through sole source contracts and the most recent to receive that designation is the Bonneville Hatchery at Eagle Creek near Bonneville Dam.


“We’ve been talking with ODFW regarding the Bonneville Hatchery and we believe there is justification to sole source hatchery operations to Oregon,” she said.


Ownership of the hatchery is not straightforward because the Corps owns the hatchery, but ODFW owns an abatement pond at the hatchery, which is important to aquaculture activities at the hatchery.


The Corps has found similar co-ownership situations at other Corps-owned hatcheries in the Willamette Valley. Those are Marion Forks Hatchery (1951) on Marion Creek a tributary of the Santiam River, South Santiam Fish Hatchery (1925), Willamette Fish Hatchery (rebuilt in 1952) near Oakridge, and the McKenzie Hatchery (rebuilt in 1975).


In all five cases, Helms said, the Portland District needs to get approval from Corps headquarters in Washington D.C.


It released a 15-day notice of intent this week for the Bonneville Hatchery and will send the proposal to headquarters for approval while it awaits approval on the other four co-owned Willamette Valley hatcheries. Comments regarding the action must be made via email to by 2 pm, March 23, 2017. If there are no responses, an award will be made without further notice the NOI said.


The NOI is at


Helms said the Corps expects to go out soon to advertise for a full competition to operate the Cole Rivers hatchery (built in 1973) on the Rogue River. That currently is operated by ODFW.


Historically, trout production by the Corps, also a mitigation action, was done out of the Leaburg Hatchery (1953) on the Willamette River, but the Corps said it will remove production of trout from the hatchery and bid it out in an unrestricted solicitation. Trout production will cease at the hatchery. However, the Corps says it will continue to meet its trout mitigation goals and will do so through the solicitation for trout production.


Production of other salmonids at the hatchery is under discussion and will likely continue after June 30.


“This is an important facility in that community,” Helms said. “We’ve talked with ODFW about transferring it to the state, but there is no final decision on that.”


At this time, a contract solicitation for the hatchery has not been written, she added.


Housing at the hatcheries is also an issue. As the contracts are awarded, ownership of some of the homes could be kept with the Corps. However, Helms said, much of the housing at Willamette Valley hatcheries could be transferred to ODFW.


Prior to 1990 the Corps had contracts with ODFW, but that practice transitioned to cooperative agreements in the 1990s, Helms said in February. A cooperative agreement is something akin to a grant that helps an entity fund an activity, whereas a contract is where the Corps pays a contractor to do work on its behalf to support a Corps authorization.


Federal Acquisitions Regulations say that the most appropriate approach is to go back to a bidding process and award contracts for hatchery operations.


“That allows us to meet the requirements of regulations, it will lead to efficiencies and it also would allow us to be more specific in how the hatcheries are operated,” Helms said.


Even with these administrative changes, the Corps still intends to continue to meet its “full obligation to all species.” There is not a time limit on mitigating for fish losses at the dams, Helms said.


There are also Corps-funded mitigation hatcheries in Washington and Idaho, including Dworshak National Fish Hatchery in Idaho, Spring Creek National Fish Hatchery on the Columbia River, Ringgold Springs Hatchery on the Yakima River, and the Little White Salmon Hatchery, all in Washington.


While other Corps hatcheries could be subject to contracts, Helms said, each would be unique as they relate to the agencies involved. Federal to federal agreements fall under different acquisition regulations than those with state agencies or private contractors.


Also see:


--CBB, February 10, 2017, “Corps To Bid Out Operations At Seven Corps-Owned Oregon Hatcheries Now Managed By ODFW,


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