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Yakama Nation, Chelan PUD Agree To 15-Year,$9.7 Million Program For Mid-Columbia Coho Reintroduction
Posted on Friday, September 28, 2018 (PST)

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 million.


“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 Island dams.


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 presentation.


The first 10-year funding agreement expired Dec. 31, 2017.


The terms of the new 15-year cost-share agreement include:

--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 programs.


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


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 (


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 Dam HCP.


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.


Also see:


--CBB, January 22, 2018, “Proposed Yakama Nation Coho Salmon Restoration Hatchery Takes Another Step Closer To Funding,


-- CBB, October 11, 2013, “NW Power/Conservation Council Moves Forward On $9 Million Yakama Nation Coho Restoration Hatchery,”


--CBB, March 8, 2018, “Chelan PUD Says HCPs Have Led To ‘No Net Impact’ On Salmon, Steelhead At Two Dams,”


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