Friday, March 22, 2013

Being a Good Neighbor Makes Idaho Hatchery Shine Bright:

Dworshak Fish Hatchery receives Station of the Year Award

You may remember back in August that the main water line from Dworshak Dam to Clearwater State Fish Hatchery was damaged (see October 15, 2012 post for details). The water line needed to be shut down in order to investigate and repair the damage. This left Clearwater Hatchery in short water supply. In order to save their 2011 brood of Spring Chinook, 2.5 million fish, Clearwater needed to find some water. Since Dworshak Fish Hatchery is right across the river from Clearwater Hatchery it was the logical place to look.
Spring Chinook Salmon fingerlings

Both hatcheries can share reservoir water, but most of Dworshak’s water comes from the North Fork Clearwater River, about a mile below the Dam. The river water comes with its share of problems- the biggest is IHNV, a virus that can be deadly to steelhead. This is why Clearwater Hatchery uses disease free reservoir water as its sole water source. Pumping river water to Clearwater Hatchery was not an option, but moving their fish to Dworshak was.

Clearwater Hatchery transferring juvenile Chinook to Dworshak
Planning and preparing for the fish move was tough and took a lot of teamwork. With help from the Nez Perce Tribal Hatchery, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, the Lower Snake River Compensation Program, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Army Corps of Engineers, we were able to prepare 25 Burrow’s ponds, improve our waste water system to accommodate the additional fish, modify our drain lines to handle the additional water use and move 2.5 million juvenile Spring Chinook from the Clearwater Hatchery to Dworshak in less than two weeks.

Lucas and John feed the Clearwater Chinook
Over the winter there has been a cadre of IDF&G staff at Dworshak taking care of their Chinook and helping out with a continuous list of projects and daily maintenance. They have become part of the Dworshak team helping trouble shoot our ever changing cleaning operations; always willing to lend a hand.

This week the Clearwater Chinook smolts are being trucked off-station for release as they begin their long migration downriver to the ocean. Mark Drobish, Hatchery Manager at Dworshak Fish Hatchery said, “It’s all about rearing healthy fish at our hatcheries and this effort was truly one of team spirit, quick action and cooperation between state, federal, and tribal agencies to take a crisis and turn it into a success story.

Trucks lined up and ready to be loaded

Pumping Chinook onto a truck

Releasing Chinook smolts to the Selway River
Chinook smolts getting used to their home in the wild
The Lower Snake River Compensation Program (LSRCP) recognized Dworshak Fish Hatchery’s efforts by awarding them the Station of the Year Award. Without the coordination, cooperation and effort from multiple agencies Clearwater Hatchery would have lost all those salmon. That not only would have been tragic for the hatchery, but for the Tribal and sports fishermen that utilize this resource, and for the countless animals that depend on these fish.

Dworshak Complex Staff

by Angela Feldmann

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