Important Conservation Programs

The mid-Columbia region is home to important conservation hatchery programs designed to support recovery efforts. The Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakima Nation operates hatcheries in the Yakima and Klickitat Rivers basins that focus on supplementing Chinook salmon runs and reintroducing coho salmon. In the Klickitat, hatchery fish are managed separately from wild fish to limit interbreeding in the wild while supporting important tribal and recreational fisheries.

The Yakima River basin does not have a steelhead hatchery. Unlike other Pacific salmon, not all steelhead die after spawning. The survivors, known as kelts, often return to spawn again in later years. Repeat-spawners can contribute substantially to some populations, but the hydropower system constrains repeat spawning.  The innovative kelt reconditioning program captures wild steelhead after they spawn and brings them into a hatchery so they can be fed and released to spawn again the next year.

The Yakama Nation also has a lamprey hatchery and translocation program, hatchery-based reintroduction programs for coho and summer Chinook, and a translocation program to reintroduce sockeye salmon taken from the Columbia River to the Cle Elum River. The innovative Yakama Nation bull trout captive rearing program is rescuing fish that otherwise would have died in drying streams and raise them to return to their original streams and seed new bull trout populations in reintroduction areas.