The Chelan County Public Utility District
commission at its meeting Sept. 18 approved a resolution to enter into a
long-term, 15-year agreement with the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the
Yakama Nation for coho salmon hatchery fish rearing.
The agreement helps the utility, located in
Chelan County in central Washington, meet its Habitat Conservation Plan goals
and ensure no net impact on fish due to its operations at Rocky Reach and Rock
Island dams, according to a PUD September 18 news release.
The new agreement between the tribe and the
PUD extends what has been a pilot program over the past 10 years for the
reintroduction of coho salmon into the Rock Island and Rocky Reach reservoirs.
“We have learned a lot during the past ten
years,” Alene Underwood, PUD Fish & Wildlife manager told the Commission at
its Sept. 4 meeting. “This contract would fully implement the pilot project we
have had with the Yakamas and would give the PUD Habitat Conservation Plans
(HCP) long-term certainty for protecting coho salmon. Our hatchery programs are
a key element to our commitment of No Net Impact for salmon and steelhead
migrating past Rock Island and Rocky Reach.”
Under the agreement, the Yakama Nation will
continue its work to reestablish naturally spawning coho populations in the
mid-Columbia tributaries to biologically sustainable levels and to provide
significant harvest in most years. The 15-year cost of the program is $9.7
“Resource stewardship is a fundamental value
for the PUD,” said General Manager Steve Wright. “This agreement is the most
cost effective option that we considered and it guarantees our coho compliance
for the full 15 years.”
The proposed contract provides for the PUD to
join the Bonneville Power Administration, along with Grant and Douglas PUDs, to
provide for the reintroduction of coho.
It’s important to note that all of the
signatories to the PUD’s HCP have endorsed this proposal, the PUD said
HCPs are an obligation Chelan PUD has to
satisfy salmon and steelhead protection under its Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission licenses for the two dams.
In a presentation to the PUD Commission Sept.
4, Underwood said that under the HCPs, hatchery programs are part of achieving
no net impact on salmon and steelhead migrating past Rocky Reach and Rock
At the time the HCPs were being developed,
coho salmon no longer migrated up into the mid-Columbia River. On June 20,
2007, the HCP Hatchery Committee signed an agreement saying that the PUD should
begin to provide compensation for a coho hatchery, and in August that year, the
Hatchery Committee approved funding for 10 years.
The objective of the Yakama Nation coho
reintroduction project is to re-establish naturally-spawning coho populations
in mid-Columbia tributaries. The Yakama Nation has led this coho reintroduction
in the Wenatchee and Methow sub-basins since the 1990s, according to the PUD
The first 10-year funding agreement expired
Dec. 31, 2017.
The terms of the new 15-year cost-share
--Chelan PUD provides access to broodstock
collection facilities at Tumwater and Dryden.
--Chelan provides the option to use Rocky
Reach Annex for future cost offset.
--Mutual termination with exceptions in case
of material breach or loss of HCP credit.
--Chelan’s annual average cost will be
$605,271, held to 1.75 percent inflation.
The cost to the PUD will be $3.52 per smolt,
which compares to an average of $6.31 per smolt for other PUD hatchery
The PUD had declared in 2013 that after a
decade of working together with state and federal fish agencies and two
Northwest tribes that under the HCPs for Rocky Reach and Rock Island dams it has
achieved the goal that these dams have no net impact on the salmon and
steelhead migrating past them (see www.chelanpud.org/habitat-conservation-plans.html).
According to the PUD, both Chelan and Douglas
PUDs worked cooperatively with state and federal fisheries agencies and tribes
to develop the HCPs for anadromous salmon and steelhead (http://www.chelanpud.org/environment/habitat-conservation-plans).
Signing the plans were Confederated Tribes of
the Colville Reservation, Yakama Nation, NOAA Fisheries, U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Chelan PUD developed the HCPs for the Rocky
Reach and Rock Island Projects, while Douglas PUD was responsible for the Wells
The plans commit the two utilities to a 50-year
program to ensure that their hydro projects have no net impact on mid-Columbia
salmon and steelhead runs, Chelan PUD said. This will be accomplished through a
combination of fish bypass systems, spill at the hydro projects, off-site
hatchery programs and evaluations, and habitat restoration work conducted in
mid-Columbia tributary systems.
--CBB, January 22, 2018, “Proposed Yakama
Nation Coho Salmon Restoration Hatchery Takes Another Step Closer To Funding, http://www.cbbulletin.com/435911.aspx
-- CBB, October 11, 2013, “NW
Power/Conservation Council Moves Forward On $9 Million Yakama Nation Coho
Restoration Hatchery,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/428635.aspx
--CBB, March 8, 2018, “Chelan PUD Says HCPs
Have Led To ‘No Net Impact’ On Salmon, Steelhead At Two Dams,” http://www.cbbulletin.com/425379.aspx