Nestled in the temperate rain forest of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, just a mile from the rugged Pacific coast, is the Makah National Fish Hatchery. Here amid spectacular scenery and a diversity of wildlife, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service raises salmon and steelhead for release into the Sooes and Wa’atch rivers. Visitors can enjoy watching the hatchery in operation and see large adult fish returning from October through February – the results of a successful hatchery program.
Here on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula with nature in all its splendor, Makah NFH goes about the daily task of raising chinook and coho salmon, and steelhead, successfully restoring runs that were depleted by environmental changes and over fishing.
The FWS, in conjunction with state and tribal fisheries biologists, develops hatchery production strategies and adjusts hatchery production to allow for changing habitat conditions that affect fish populations. The FWS also helps other government agencies and private landowners to develop ways to meet demand for timber, while protecting and restoring salmon habitat.
Makah NFH remains dedicated to rebuilding salmon and steelhead runs along the north Washington coast. We work cooperatively with the Makah Nation and the Washington department of Fish and Wildlife to ensure a balanced and sustainable harvest of these fish.
Cape Flattery is the traditional home of the Makah Indian Nation. The nearby community of Neah Bay has been a Makah fishing village for thousands of years. Northwest tribes have traditionally depended on the bountiful resources provided by Mother Nature, including healthy salmon populations, to provide both daily needs and materials for commerce. Salmon images decorated many objects of these early people and are represented in tribal art, on totems, boats, and everyday items.
Fishing has always been an important part of the livelihood of the Makah people. But by the late 1960's, salmon and steelhead had almost disappeared from Tribal lands. Returning fall chinook had dwindled to only 150 adults in the Sooes watershed.
In the early 1970's, representatives of the Makah Tribe asked the U.S. Congress for help in replenishing the diminished runs. As a result, Congress authorized this fish hatchery, and construction began in 1976.
Salmon and steelhead raised at the hatchery return there after spending 1 to 5 years at sea. From October through February visitors can watch the exciting spectacle of these magnificent fish ascending the hatchery’s fish ladder, and see large adult fish in the hatchery’s holding ponds. At other times of year, visitors can observe chinook, coho, and steelhead fry and fingerlings in the hatchery’s raceways, watch smolts being tagged and released, and enjoy spectacular scenery and wildlife here at land's end.