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    Partnering Makes Perfect at Hatchery

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    Partners gather for an educational program at Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery.

    March 14, 2017: Seventy-two fifth graders from Wenatchee’s Lewis and Clark Elementary School had a memorable, and bilingual, experience at Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery, thanks to a remarkable partnership with Mid-Columbia Fish & Wildlife Conservation Office (MCFWCO), Wenatchee River Institute (WRI), Team Naturaleza, and the hatchery.

    Lewis and Clark serves grades K-5 in a multicultural environment. Many students are Spanish-speakers, and some are new to English. The entire 5th grade came to Leavenworth, where every student went snowshoeing, toured the hatchery, practiced archery, and learned about wildlife, guided by a team of biologists, educators, and translators.

    The Information and Education (I&E) staff at the hatchery includes just two employees, serving a complex that includes two other hatcheries and MCFWCO. Handling a group of 72 students is a huge challenge. Rather than say no to a requested visit, Park Ranger Marjie Lodwick called in partners to help. She drew from MCFWCO, WRI, and Team Naturaleza.

    Biologists from MCFWCO have been helping throughout the winter with public snowshoe tours. Winter is a slow time for biology fieldwork, and the extra hours with I&E help keep staff employed. "It’s fabulous for visitors," said I&E Manager Julia Pinnix. "They get to go on a tour with a biologist and hear about their work."

    As part of an effort to build partnerships with other educational organizations, Julia trained staff from WRI as certified archery instructors last year, offering them the use of the hatchery’s archery equipment for WRI’s own programs in return for help at events.

    The hatchery is also a member of Team Naturaleza, a partnership with multiple agencies, organizations, and individuals. The goal of the partners is to invite Spanish-speakers into the outdoors. Denise Monge, a Costa Rican native, was recently hired as an intern for Team Naturaleza. Denise recruited two Spanish-speakers to help with the school program.

    Leaning on the partnerships the hatchery has been cultivating, Marjie pulled in two volunteers from WRI and six MCFWCO biologists, including Greg Fraser, fluent in Spanish from his service with Peace Corps in Nicaragua. Matched with Denise’s recruits, there were enough instructors to break the students into four groups, each with a translator. Each group rotated from one activity to another in a carefully planned schedule.

    Marjie related watching a bilingual hatchery tour in progress. All the students listened when English was spoken. But when Denise translated the information, suddenly hands shot up and polite listeners turned into engaged learners.

    Out on the snowshoe trail, there was a boy recently moved from Mexico. When biologist Greg began translating, the boy hung back to the end of the line so he could be near Greg. He stuck by him during the whole walk, looking up at him with wide-eyed admiration. Seeing a person in a Service uniform speaking Spanish fluently made an impression that student won’t forget.

    Tracie Sleeper of Lewis & Clark Elementary said, "From a teacher perspective, we did not see any area of weakness. How engaged the instructors and students all were! They did an amazing job holding the students’ attention and keeping them motivated to learn. The organizations involved were awesome, and we would be honored to do it again. All 10’s in our opinion."

    "Without our partners, and without Marjie’s high quality hard work, this program could not have happened,” said Julia. “We’ve been working to build our relationships with partners, and this kind of event is the payoff. Everybody wins."

    Icy Disaster Averted at Entiat National Fish Hatchery

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    Ice blocks the frozen intake pipe, jammed by river ice, at Entiat National Fish Hatchery.

    December 21, 2016: Entiat National Fish Hatchery fought to keep fish alive Sunday December 18 when ice flowing down Entiat River jammed the intake and pipes. The crew spent a grueling 5 1/2 hours fighting the flow and saving the 460,000 fish in the raceways, which were without flow for quite some time.

    Hatchery Manager Craig Chisam described the emergency: "Our intake rack, vault, and 1,000 foot delivery line, along with the 800 foot by-pass line (where the ice has to go), were completely clogged with ice. After a couple hours, we restored enough flow to the raceways to allow us to reconfigure to a re-use scenario and keep fish alive. As we continued to fight the remaining ice clogs in our lines, the 36-inch main intake line suddenly freed up, sending massive amounts of ice and water to the screen chamber and instantly filling the building with ice with about a foot of water pouring out of the building and down our roads.

    "At the same time, the massive amount of water that came with the ice overflowed our sand-settling basin and sent its water down our roads as well. As a result, the 800-foot bypass line became clogged with ice again. We were forced to turn off our surface water delivery line, which left the raceways with no flow as we dealt with the problem. Much time was spent melting the ice with warm groundwater and freeing up the clogged line in order to restore adequate flow to the raceways."

    Craig describes his crew as “sore, beaten, and battered but thankfully safe in the end.” The problem may have started with an ice dam in Entiat River collapsing, sending massive amounts of ice and debris downstream. Entiat resident John Craven, whose home is close to the hatchery, captured footage of an ice flood on Friday December 16. His video is posted on YouTube:

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    Team Naturaleza Given Award from Bureau of Land Management

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    Team Naturaleza Intern Jairo Alpire leads a group at Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery in summer 2016.

    December 6, 2016: A Wenatchee-area coalition that is using innovative ways to engage Latino communities in natural science education has received a Bureau of Land Management 2016 Diversity and Inclusion Award.

    Ron Dunton, Acting Director for BLM's Oregon/Washington State Region, recognized the efforts of Team Naturelaza, a partnership between public agencies, individuals, and organizations that encourages Spanish-speakers to recreate outdoors on public lands and enjoy informal natural science education.

    Diane Priebe, a BLM employee based in Wenatchee, nominated Team Naturaleza for the award. The agency is focusing efforts to develop a culture of diversity and inclusiveness that authentically engages interested individuals and communities in achieving common goals.

    "We provide an environment where employees of all backgrounds can realize their aspirations," Priebe said. "The Team Naturaleza partnership is a perfect example of working towards this goal, embracing other cultures and breaking down barriers to getting people outside."

    In 2016, Team Naturaleza worked with the Environment for the Americas, using Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest funding and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Directorate Fellows Assistant Program to hire two interns, Jairo Alpire and Ellie DeMarse.

    Alpire and DeMarse helped organize and support Spanish-language events and activities and participated in the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's National Hunting and Fishing Day in Wenatchee. At least 30% of Wenatchee's population speaks Spanish. A native Spanish speaker, Alpire sent personal invitations to members of the Spanish-speaking community, boosting attendance at Team Naturaleza events.

    Although the summer interns have moved on to college and other work, Team Naturaleza continues to focus on outreach events for Central Washington Latino residents. Special programs like snowshoeing are planned for Latino groups this winter.

    For more information about Team Naturaleza, please contact one of the following members: Diane Priebe, Outdoor Recreation Planner, Bureau of Land Management, 509-665-2131,; Susan Thomas, Forest Partnership Coordinator, Okanogan-Wenatchee NF, 509-664-9222,; Norma Gallegos, 509-860-0323,; Julia Pinnix, Information and Education Manager, Leavenworth Fisheries Complex, 509-548-2916,

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    Free Snowshoe Tours Start Again at Leavenworth NFH

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    Free guided snowshoe tours are available December to February.

    November 1, 2016: Beginning in December (snow permitting), free guided snowshoe tours will begin at Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery. Winter in Leavenworth is a great time to visit the hatchery! Juvenile fish are on station all year. A visit can include a look at hatchery operations, as well as a guided tour on the Icicle Creek Nature Trail.

    The grounds are open to visitors every day. The visitor center is usually open after 7:30 a.m., closed by 4 p.m., although staff may only be present for limited times. Guided snowshoe tours are available on specific days, and space must be reserved by calling 509-548-7641.

    In December, tours are offered on Saturdays and Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.; on Friday the 9th and 16th at 1 p.m.; on Friday the 16th and 23rd at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.; and Dec. 27-31 at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Please note that no tours are offered Dec. 25 or 26.

    In January, tours are available Saturdays and Sundays at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.; and on Friday the 6th, 13th, and 20th at 1 p.m.

    In February, tours are available Saturdays and Sundays through the 19th, at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

    For more information, please call 509-548-7641. You may download our snowshoe tour flyer also.

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    Article Describes Restoration Project, and Role of Beavers

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    Beaver dam analogues mimic the structure and function of natural beaver dams, slowing the water down and backing it up.

    October 12, 2016:Julie Ashmore of Okanogan Valley's Gazette-Tribune published an article October 3 on collaborative wetland restoration. The Triple Creek Beaver Dam Analogues project is one our own Mid-Columbia Fish & Wildlife Conservation Office has been working on! Read more on our website, download a pdf, or visit the Gazette-Tribune's website...

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    Award for Pollinator Garden Given to Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery

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    Americorps volunteer Heather Love, Master Gardener Don Morse, and Information and Education Manager Julia Pinnix display the award in the garden.

    August, 2016:Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery (LNFH) works not just for fish, but for insects, too. The hatchery's new pollinator garden has drawn national recognition with an award from the North American Pollinator Protection Campaign (NAPPC).

    Pollinator Roadways is a new NAPPC initiative to recognize pollinator-friendly roadside practices. The 2,400 square foot pollinator garden at LNFH adjoins the parking lot in front of the main hatchery building. All the plants are native species, chosen to bloom at different times and provide nectar to butterflies, bees, and other pollinators throughout the summer. More than 200 milkweed plants target support for monarch butterflies.

    The US Fish and Wildlife Service has a mission to Save the Monarch (, and leads the Monarch Joint Venture (MJV) with over 49 national, state, and local partners ( MJV is a partnership of federal and state agencies, non- governmental organizations, and academic programs working together to support and coordinate efforts to protect monarch migration across the lower 48 United States. Local residents in the Leavenworth area remember seeing monarchs decades ago; but eradication of milkweed to protect cattle means the butterflies have disappeared.

    The goal of the garden at LNFH is to promote pollinator and monarch butterfly habitat while educating students and the public about their importance, and about the wider habitat and wildlife goals of the Service. Thousands of visitors come to the hatchery each year, and the garden is in a prominent location. Washington State University Extension office supports the Chelan-Douglas County Master Gardener Program; and Leavenworth members have joined LNFH in a partnership to care for the garden and provide interpretation to visitors.

    Without the efforts of Heather Love, a volunteer in the VetsWork Americorps program through Mt. Adams Institute, the pollinator garden would not be a reality. She mobilized volunteers for planting parties, sod-cutting, and pathway installation; selected and cared for all the plants; and worked with Master Gardeners to establish the pollinator garden as an approved site for their volunteers. "We are proud of what Heather has accomplished here," said Information and Education Manager Julia Pinnix. "The garden is already a centerpiece of our tours."

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    Boat Launch Closed at Leavenworth NFH

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    Water sports are popular in the Leavenworth area, but low water in Icicle Creek closes the boat launch at the hatchery.

    July, 2016:The low-water time of summer is now here, and Hatchery Manager Dave Carie will close the boat launch at Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery to further use after July 31. As long as water levels remain high, the public is welcome to use the launch. But once the depth of the river drops too low, the launch is closed. This protects the redds (nests) of spawning salmon in Icicle Creek.

    Commercial use of the boat launch is restricted year-round. Only holders of a current, approved permit may operate from the boat launch during periods of high water. The permit system was begun in 2011, in response to concerns from local landowners, commercial guides and outfitters, and hatchery staff. As use of the boat launch increased, problems with care and maintenance of the site increased, too. Downstream landowners were upset when users accessing the river from the hatchery became careless trespassers trampling vegetation, littering, and leaving behind human waste.

    A permit system was installed to help control and reduce some of the impact at the launch, and perhaps also reduce trouble downstream. In June 2016, a group of operators met at the hatchery to discuss changes and updates to the system. Commercial companies may contact Information and Education Manager Julia Pinnix to learn more about the permitting system. 

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    Scholarship Awarded from Salmon Fest

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    Alexis Rodriguez-Pantaleon is the winner of the 2016 Nancy Duree Natural Resource Scholarship..

    June, 2016: The Wenatchee River Salmon Festival is proud to announce that Alexis Rodriguez-Pantaleon is the winner of the 2016 Nancy Duree Natural Resource Scholarship.  The $1500 scholarship is awarded to an outstanding North Central Washington graduating high school senior who is continuing their education in a natural resource field at an accredited college or university.

    Rodriguez-Pantaleon is the son of Juana Pantaleon and Zenon Rodriguez of Wenatchee, Washington. He is a graduating senior from Wenatchee High School and will be attending the University of Washington and pursuing a degree in Wildlife Biology and Environmental Education.

    Rodriguez-Pantaleon faced some serious competition from a large field of superior candidates, but his outstanding academic record, demonstrated community involvement, references, and personal essay were determining factors in his selection. Alexis has a very bright future, and his intelligence and dedication to better our community was well demonstrated in his essay when he said, “There are not enough services providing students with opportunities to explore the land, animals, and the community around them. I plan to change that.”

    The Nancy Duree Natural Resource Scholarship was created in honor of Nancy Duree, a Wenatchee River Salmon Festival Core Team member devoted to the educational mission of the festival and an active participant in the festival from its inception in 1991. Nancy was a strong believer in promoting the value of higher education and was passionate about conserving and connecting people with the outdoors.

    One of the core values of the Wenatchee River Salmon Festival is providing high quality natural resource education to our communities. To foster this belief we “pay it forward” by investing in local students who have a passion for natural resources and want to further their education in this field.

    The Wenatchee River Salmon Festival is a family friendly, national award winning festival held at the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery. This year’s All Family Day is September 17th, from 10am to 5pm.

    The Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery, Chelan County PUD, Friends of Northwest Hatcheries and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation host the festival. Contact Susan C. Peterson for more information:; 509-630-1066.

    Salmon Festival is a proud recipient of the “2016 Partnership Award for Public Lands Partners.” Back to top...

    Federal Agencies Seeking Public Comment

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    Fish ponds under construction at Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery in 1940.

    April 2, 2016: In a collaborative effort to improve aging infrastructure and benefit the Northwest's vital salmon and steelhead resources, The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation) publically released a report outlining alternative options for fish production and facilities at the Leavenworth Fisheries Complex (Complex) in Central Washington State. .

    The Complex serves the Columbia River Basin and encompasses Leavenworth, Entiat, and Winthrop National Fish Hatcheries, as well as the Mid-Columbia Fish & Wildlife Conservation Office. Constructed between 1939 and 1942, the hatcheries of the Complex were established to mitigate salmon population impacts of Grand Coulee Dam, and provide tribal, sport, and commercial harvest opportunity.

    The federal facilities currently produce and release around two million Chinook salmon, one million coho salmon, and two hundred thousand steelhead in support of the U.S. v. Oregon agreement and Columbia River Fisheries Management Plan.

    In 2011, the Service and Reclamation jointly assessed the condition of the nearly 75 year-old Complex facilities and prioritized infrastructure improvements to meet safety, health, and environmental compliance requirements. From 2013 to2015, independent reviewer McMillen Jacobs Associates conducted the analysis of the facilities.

    This project conducted an alternatives analysis for the Complex to best meet fish production needs and full use of available water. The alternatives consist of repairing and/or upgrading existing facilities and infrastructure at existing sites, construction of new facilities and infrastructure at existing or new sites, and/or a combination of the two.

    Leavenworth Fisheries Complex plays an important cultural, recreational, and economic role in the Northwest by producing the next generation of fish for the next generation of people. The independent analysis of McMillen Jacobs Associates, along with input from Tribes, stakeholders, and the public, will help develop a five to ten year master plan to update the hatcheries to ensure mitigation obligations and production and harvest goals are met well into the future.

    To request further information or submit written comments, please use one of the following methods, and note that your information request or comments are in reference to the "Leavenworth Alternatives Analysis."

    Internet: You may view the report online here: (volume 1) and (volume 2).

    Email: Comments may be emailed to:

    U.S. mail: ATTN: Amanda Smith, U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 911 NE 11th AVE., Portland, OR. 97232

    In-person drop-off, viewing, or pickup: Please call Dave Irving at 509-548-2912 to make an appointment (necessary for viewing or picking up documents only) during normal business hours at the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery, 12790 Fish Hatchery Rd, Leavenworth, WA, 98826.

    Written comments must be received on or before the close of the public review and comment period on May 6, 2016.

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    Friends, Hatchery Recognized with Public Lands Alliance Award

    Collecting broodstock

    Students learn to identify fish at Wenatchee River Salmon Festival.

    March 9, 2016: Friends of Northwest Hatcheries and the Leavenworth Fisheries Complex received a Public Lands Partner Award for 25 years of bringing the community together with the Wenatchee River Salmon Festival. The Public Lands Alliance presented the award at their annual convention March 9.

    The Public Lands Partner Award celebrates the best in public lands partnerships, recognizing individuals, organizations, publications, products, programs, and services that embody leading edge achievements in the preservation of public lands and the enrichment of visitors.

    Held each fall to celebrate the return of the salmon to the Wenatchee River, the Wenatchee River Salmon Festival is a three day natural resource education event. "The event has always been about partnership," says founder Corky Broaddus. In addition to the Friends and the Complex, Wenatchee National Forest, Chelan County Public Utility District, Chamber of Commerce of Leavenworth, Bureau of Reclamation, Army Corps of Engineers, Yakama Nation, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Chelan County Natural Resource Department, Cascadia Conservation District, Bonneville Power Administration, and many others all provide support to Salmon Fest.

    Two of the three days of the Fest are devoted to bringing in elementary school students for hands-on education. One of the most popular activities is Kids in the Creek, modeled after a program of the same name for high school students. Another popular stop is the giant mobile aquarium, where students can learn to identify fish. All the activities are run by partners and volunteers. The grounds are opened on the third day to the public. "We directly reach 7000-10,000 people per year in just three days, and this does not include teacher workshops, scholarships, poster contest, and other activities associated with the festival over the course of each year," said Susan Peterson of the Wenatchee River Ranger District, U.S. Forest Service. During the 25th anniversary of the festival, also the 75th anniversary of the Complex, school attendance was the highest ever.

    "The quality of this year's nominations and submissions [for the award] was outstanding," said Public Lands Alliance Executive Director Dan Puskar. "They so clearly demonstrate the vitality and passion in today's public lands partnerships and deserve recognition for being truly innovative, creative as well as collaborative."

    The Friends continue to manage the event, and the Complex to host it, with both looking forward to building on the success of 2015. "Natural resource education is vital," says Julia Pinnix, Information and Education Manager for the Complex. "The enthusiasm we see from the public and the schools, and the volunteers who come back year after year, tell us we’re doing the right thing here."

    The Public Lands Alliance, formerly known as the Association of Partners for Public Lands, works to build and elevate effective nonprofit organizations and exceptional public-nonprofit partnerships for the benefit of public lands and their users. For more information, visit Back to top...

    Anglers in Winthrop Help Collect Broodstock

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    Collecting steelhead broodstock in the Methow River.

    February, 2016: Winthrop National Fish Hatchery raises steelhead to boost tribal and recreational fishing opportunities and to support recovery. Beginning in late February, volunteers accompanied by uniformed staff can be seen fishing near Winthrop, collecting broodstock to support the local hatchery program.

    Since 2008, the Hatchery has been developing a local hatchery steelhead stock by capturing steelhead near Winthrop. The purpose of the program is to continue to produce steelhead for recovery and fishing opportunities while reducing genetic risks to the naturally-spawning population in the upper Methow sub-basin. A more locally-adapted steelhead stock could be important on the spawning grounds during years of low natural-origin returns to the basin.

    Continuing through early May, fisheries employees and selected volunteers will catch adult steelhead by hook and line within a few miles of Winthrop. Angling provides a cost-effective method that allows the program to target only local, upper Methow River fish. For the past several years, angling has proven to be an effective tool to allow the hatchery to meet its goals while avoiding unpopular, less environmentally friendly alternatives such as constructing a fish collection weir across the river.

    The hatchery needs a total of approximately 160 adult steelhead (hatchery and wild) for broodstock, research, and stock management purposes. This annual collection effort produces an annual release goal of up to 200,000 steelhead smolts released to the Methow River at Winthrop each spring.

    An additional benefit is that most wild female steelhead used for the program at Winthrop NFH are live-spawned and transferred to the Yakama Nation's kelt reconditioning program, which allows the fish to recover and be returned to the Methow River to hopefully spawn again in the river the following year.

    The Winthrop National Fish Hatchery is part of the Leavenworth Fisheries Complex. It began operations in 1941 to mitigate for the loss of salmon and steelhead habitat associated with the construction and operation of Grand Coulee Dam. If you have questions, please call Chris Pasley at 996-2424 or Michael Humling at 996-2204. Back to top...

    Hatchery Receives Outdoor Education Grant

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    Cascade Discovery School is on the grounds of Leavenworth NFH.

    February 19, 2016: Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery became the first hatchery in the country to sign on as an outdoor education site through Hands on the Land (HOL). HOL is a national network of field classrooms and agency resources to connect people with public lands and waterways. The hatchery was also awarded a grant to support a new education program, the Archeology of Fishing, for an on-site high school.

    The hatchery is a National Landmark, and 2016 is the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act. Information and Education Manager Julia Pinnix looked for a way to celebrate this anniversary, and worked out a plan with the Cascade Discovery Program, located on the grounds of the hatchery. The high school program is a partnership with Cascade School District and the USFWS, offering hands-on, science-based experiences for the students.

    The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) provides mini-grants to HOL sites, in support of field-based educational programs. The hatchery became a HOL site and successfully competed for a grant to bring the archeology program to life.

    “We have an amazing educational opportunity to share the rich history of the Pacific Northwest and this community in particular through a great experiential education project,” said Travis Blue, lead teacher for the Discovery Program. During the program, led by a local archeologist, students will learn about and create models of traditional tools used for fishing and other subsistence activities. They will excavate a mock dig, applying the techniques and principles of archeology while learning to “read” the history of fishing in their finds. Back to top...

    Hard Work Averts Flood Disaster at Hatchery

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    Flood damage at fish ladder on Icicle Creek.

    November 18, 2015: Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery employees worked all night to cope with Icicle Creek floodwaters and debris-plugged water intakes to save 1.2 million fingerling salmon. “The last flood this bad was 2005,” said Travis Collier, Assistant Hatchery Manager. Nearly 2.34 inches of rain fell, melting recently fallen snow and causing floodwaters to rise above 11,000 cubic feet per second.

    The hatchery faced two primary problems: the volume of water, and the debris it carried. A control structure was built upstream of a diversion channel in 1939to control flood water. One of its two gates was lowered last night to direct water into the diversion channel. Water in the natural channel still rose over the bridge upstream from where the two channels rejoin. “We don't know exactly how much water came through because it washed out the gauging station,” said Travis.

    Logs were swept downstream, slamming into the bridge at the spillway, breaking through the fence, and damaging the fish ladder. Tribal fishing platforms were destroyed. Debris was an even greater problem at the water intake for the hatchery, located several miles up Icicle Creek Road. There, the intake was completely clogged, and water rose inside the building. Travis described the hazardous work of climbing down into the flooded structure to drag out branches in an urgent bid to get water moving again in the system.

    Water from the intake is piped first to a settling chamber. Because the intake was blocked, the settling chamber was completely dry, said Travis. Normal water flow in a 10 x 100 foot raceway is 900 gallons per minute. For an hour, no water was coming from the river at all. Hatchery workers switched on every well and re-used w water was available to keep water in the raceways where spring Chinook salmon are raised.

    Their efforts succeeded, but the hard work continues. Once the blockage was cleared the water coming into the hatchery was loaded with silt, Five inches of mud now fills every raceway and must be cleaned out now that the flood is subsiding. Exhausted employees continue to clear debris this morning, assessing what repairs will be needed.

    Their hard work paid off: the salmon they have raised through drought and flood are alive today, still on schedule to be released in April, meeting the hatchery’s mission of mitigating for the impact of Grand Coulee Dam. Leavenworth Fisheries Complex Manager Dave Irving said, “Without their dedicated service, we’d have lost all the fish and had severe damage to the infrastructure. I appreciate their hard work under hazardous conditions. They have a real passion for fulfilling our mission.” Back to top...

    Clean-Up of Hatchery Site Complete

Gun club in 1976

The gun club at Leavenworth NFH in 1976.

November 9, 2015: Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery is done with a clean-up project that will expand public use of the site. A shooting range operated on hatchery grounds from 1946-1999, resulting in an accumulation of lead shot. The old clay targets contained a binder that is also poisonous. A project to remove the toxins and restore the site started in late August 2015.

Oneida Total Integrated Enterprises (OTIE) worked closely with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff to complete the work. Soil samples were taken regularly and sent to an independent lab for testing. Once the top layers of soil were removed and the lab tests came back clean, OTIE restored the grounds to the original grade, using soil dug from an on-site borrow pit.

The soil was hydroseeded using a blend of native grasses gathered from this region and approved by the Service. Jute netting and fiber mesh was laid down to help stabilize the soil and hold the seeds in place until they sprout in spring.

OTIE will monitor the site for erosion until December, but as the site is flat, no issues are expected. Once the grasses have re-established, the site can be re-opened for a wider range of public uses. Plans for planting a monarch butterfly and pollinator garden with the help of students are underway.

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    Summer Challenges Spur Innovative Solutions

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    Temporary bladder dam shortly after installation.

    August 17, 2015: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are trying new techniques to combat challenges presented by unprecedented high temperatures and low water flow. "We got into an emergency situation when our fish got sick," said Dave Irving, manager of the Leavenworth Fisheries Complex, describing a rescue operation that began July 31 to save the hatchery's fingerling Chinook salmon. "We've got to do something to solve the water problem." Working with multiple partners, Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery launched an experimental project to recharge groundwater wells.

    The plan was to pump water exiting the hatchery up to a dry channel, where water could percolate into hatchery wells. Initially conceived by hatchery staff and supported by the Icicle Creek Workgroup, the pumpback is an innovative way to deliver cool, clean water to the fish. The Workgroup is comprised of a diverse set of stakeholders representing local, state, and federal agencies, tribes, irrigation and agricultural interests, and environmental organizations which co-convened to find collaborative solutions for water management within the Icicle Creek Watershed.

    The hatchery draws surface water from Icicle Creek and groundwater from wells. As surface water temperatures increase in summer, cooler groundwater is mixed in; but because of sustained high temperatures and low water levels, there is not enough groundwater to keep the fingerling salmon cool enough for good health.

    Water leaves the hatchery via the fish ladder. In the lower section of the fish ladder, a pump was installed on August 3 to carry the effluent water up into the hatchery channel. The channel was created in 1939 to help control water flow in Icicle Creek and is typically dry in summer. When water is present, it percolates down from the channel, filtered and cooled by the soil, and re-enters the groundwater.

    Contractor Belsaas and Smith installed a temporary pump to bring hatchery effluent water into the channel, and well levels began to respond right away. Installation of a bladder dam on August 18 will form a deeper reservoir and increase downward pressure, helping more water fill the wells. The water also percolates back out through groundwater seeps into Icicle Creek, providing healthier water for healthier fish.

    The hatchery plans to continue the experiment, monitoring and collecting data through the end of September. "This is a proof-of-concept project," says Steve Croci, the Complex's deputy manager. If the pumpback project continues to deliver promising results, it could become a permanent solution for the hatchery.

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      Leavenworth Fisheries Complex Battles Heat, Saves Salmon with Partnership and Science


      Fingerlings heavily infected with whitespot.

      August 5, 2015: Efforts to rescue salmon fingerlings are already starting to pay off, said Dave Carie, hatchery manager at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery. High water temperatures and low water volume have proved lethal to fish throughout the Pacific Northwest this summer. When disease outbreaks among some of Leavenworth's spring Chinook salmon signaled danger, action had to be taken quickly.

      "When temperatures get high, the salmon's immune systems don't work very well, and they succumb to common diseases and parasites," said Andy Goodwin, USFWS regional fish health program manager. Staff from the USFWS Olympia Fish Health Center and the Mid-Columbia River Fishery Resource Office joined hatchery staff and partners in problem-solving. Much of the hatchery's water comes from Icicle Creek, normally kept cooler by releasing water from Snow and Nada lakes in the nearby mountains. This year’s sustained hot weather, however, has increased both the water temperature and the number of parasites found in the water.

      As a result, 160,000 fingerlings were found to be very sick. USFWS Assistant Regional Director of Fisheries Roy Elicker explained that releasing "sick and weakened fish into the stream" did not seem appropriate for the Service. "We had a tough decision to make and we had to think of the remaining healthy fish." Sick fish were humanely euthanized and another 250,000 of the healthiest fingerlings were trucked to cooler waters at the Colville Tribes Chief Joseph Hatchery in Bridgeport, Washington, where they will be cared for until cooler weather returns in the fall.

      Challenging circumstances called for additional help and Tribal, State, and staff from nearby facilities were quick to respond. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife moved swiftly to expedite the fish transfer permit. The Yakama Nation brought two tanker trucks to carry fish to the Chief Joseph Hatchery. Little White Salmon National Fish Hatchery loaned an additional large tanker.

      It took two days to ferry the fingerlings to their new, temporary home. "It was crucial to the lives of these fish that we came together-- the Tribes, the State, and our crews from Little White -- to preserve our common goal of ensuring future fishing and harvest opportunities," said Dave Irving, USFWS Leavenworth Fisheries Complex manager.

      The remaining one million fingerlings have better living conditions at Leavenworth now that they have more room and water. "Mortality rates continue to decline," said Carie. "The fish are responding well to the actions we have taken, and we are confident that we made the best decision for the health of these fish in this circumstance."

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Last Updated: October 9, 2014
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