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Corps Signs Contracts Allowing ODFW To Continue Operating Five Corps Hatcheries
Posted on Friday, September 08, 2017 (PST)

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers agreed last week to two contracts allowing the state agency to continue operating five Corps hatcheries in Oregon which they’ve operated for the most part since the 1950s.


According to the Corps, it will pay ODFW $4.8 million a year to operate the Marion Forks, South Santiam, McKenzie and Willamette hatcheries, all in the Willamette River basin under one contract, as well $2.1 million to operate the Cole Rivers Hatchery on the Rogue River in southern Oregon in a second contract.


The contracts were effective September 1 and include services such as fish production and release, marking and tagging of fish, and fish health services.


The two agencies also expect to sign a contract for operations at the Corps’ Bonneville Hatchery by November 1.


“ODFW will continue to provide many of the same hatchery services that they provided for decades,” said Andrew Traylor, the Corps’ Portland District hatchery coordinator. “The contracts outline and define the specific services to operate the hatcheries and produce the amount of fish necessary to meet our federal mitigation requirements.”


Since the 1950s, the Corps has paid ODFW to manage hatchery operations and provide fish production services to meet mitigation requirements for impacts to fish passage and habitat caused by the Corps’ dams. Historically, ODFW has concurrently raised both Corps-funded and ODFW-funded fish at the same hatcheries. Both organizations’ fish contribute to Oregon’s recreational fisheries, an arrangement that benefits both agencies.


The federal and state agencies had been negotiating the contracts since March.


In early February the Corps had said it wanted to change its long-standing cooperative agreement with ODFW at seven hatcheries and instead solicit bids for hatchery operations and award contracts to the winning bidder. By March it had said that it instead would negotiate sole source contracts with ODFW.


The Corps-owned Oregon hatcheries operated by ODFW are Cole Rivers Hatchery (built in 1973) on the Rogue River, Bonneville Fish Hatchery at Eagle Creek near Bonneville Dam (expanded in 1957), 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, McKenzie Hatchery (rebuilt in 1975) and Leaburg Hatchery (1953), mostly a trout hatchery, on the Willamette River.


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.


“These contracts will ensure fish production will remain steady for the next few years,” said Scott Patterson, ODFW Fish Propagation Program manager.


The one hatchery that is not currently part of contract negotiations is the Leaburg Hatchery, according to Bruce McIntosh, ODFW’s deputy fish chief of ODFW’s Inland Fisheries.


It will remain operational until the spring of 2018 “as fish are still being grown to release,” he said. “The Corps is interested in discussing next steps for Leaburg with us but wants to complete the contracting process first.”


Unresolved for the Leaburg Hatchery, he said, is the hatchery’s trout program “We anticipate the Corps will make a decision on who they will fund to do this in the next couple of weeks.”


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 would 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.


Portland District Corps spokesperson Michelle Helms confirmed this week that the Corps had yet to make a decision on a Leaburg trout production contract.


Prior to 1990 the Corps had contracts with ODFW, but that practice transitioned to cooperative agreements in the 1990s. 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, Helms explained in February.


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 had 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, she 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.


Also see:


--CBB, March 10, 2017, “Corps Says Five Oregon Mitigation Hatcheries Could Stay With ODFW, May Solicit Bids For Two Others,”


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


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