Willard National Fish Hatchery
Pacific Region

Welcome to the Willard National Fish Hatchery


Willard National Fish Hatchery
5501B Cook-Underwood Road
Cook, WA 98605
Hatchery Manager - Steve Wingert

Willard National Fish Hatchery is among a network of hatcheries in the Columbia Basin that were constructed to ensure the continued survival of salmon and steelhead runs. This hatchery was opened in 1953 to compensate for the loss of upstream habitat due to hydroelectric projects.

The hatchery spawns and returns many more young salmon than would occur through natural spawning alone. Nearly one million salmon are returned to the Columbia River system yearly.

Visiting the Hatchery
The Willard hatchery is located five miles north of Highway 14 up the west end of the Cook-Underwood Road on the Little White Salmon River. Visitors are welcome from 7:30 am to 4:00 pm daily.

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Housing Project

Willard’s 12 houses were built to serve a critical need created by the intensive responsibilities of running the hatchery and laboratory. Yet, after 1960 the tasks related to feeding fish were reduced and the number of personnel required to live on station also decreased. In 1994 three houses were removed. In 2015, another round of budget cuts requires another down-sizing and reduction of housing at Willard. Only three houses will remain to meet the needs of today’s hatchery.

Why so many houses?
Willard NFH’s housing compound originally consisted of twelve houses. Most hatcheries don’t have that many houses, but Willard included a large research laboratory and the combined staff all needed places to live. The research at Willard focused on many aspects of fish rearing but an important component was developing a new type of feed.

Purpose of Willard
Willard National Fish Hatchery was built between 1951 and 1953 to provide additional rearing capacity for Columbia River salmon. Salmon had been declining for many years because of overfishing, pollution, and dams that blocked passage to spawning habitat.  Willard NFH is part of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s important mission of maintaining, restoring, and enhancing the salmon fishery on the Columbia River and its tributaries. Because of its importance as a hatchery and research facility, Willard NFH was determined to be eligible to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.

Willard National Fish Hatchery
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Your National Fish Hatcheries, Vital to the Pacific Northwest

Your National Fish Hatcheries, Places for Fish and People

Fish Moving...
Willard NFH will transfer 40,000 coho salmon to the Methow River drainage for acclimation on March 14; on March 20 and March 30 they will transfer roughly 240,000 coho salmon to the Wenatchee River drainage for acclimation. In May coho salmon will be moved from indoor tanks to our outside raceways to begin feeding.

fish counter Fish Returns
For the most current fish return information visit the Fish Passage Center website.

Columbia River Gorge Columbia River Gorge National Fish Hatchery Complex
The Columbia River Gorge National Fish Hatchery Complex includes the Carson, Eagle Creek, Little White Salmon, Spring Creek, Warm Springs and Willard National Fish Hatcheries. The organization accomplishes the production of over 20 million spring Chinook, fall Chinook and Coho salmon through the sharing of staff and resources to meet the Service's Fisheries mitigation, restoration and tribal trust responsibilities.



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Calendar of Events

Fisheries in the News

3/21/17 (Idaho Statesman) 600,000 Chinook fry lost, 1.4 million juvenile steelhead in peril in North Idaho    

3/7/17 Plans for northern Idaho dam water release poses threat to fish    

2/25/17 (Bend Bulletin) Pacific Lamprey brought to local museum    

12/29/16 Steelhead Season starts New Year's Day    

12/28/16 Spring Steelhead Season Opens January1    

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Last updated: March 7, 2017

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