OLYMPIA – Flooding, heavy rainfall and high winds prompted evacuation of staff from one hatchery and have damaged other Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) facilities throughout the state.
Staff at the Voights Creek Hatchery in Pierce County left the site early Wednesday morning on orders from the local fire department as the Carbon River approached historic flood levels, said Ron Warren, WDFW hatcheries division manager.
“I believe this is the first time we’ve left a facility totally on its own, but the rising waters were threatening the safety of our employees,” Warren said. “The water was so high that chest waders were required to get in and out of the hatchery building.”
While staff were able to move major equipment to a dry site, 1.6 million fry chinook, 780,000 yearling coho, 1 million coho eggs and fry, and 150,000 yearling steelhead remained at the hatchery, Warren said.
“The forecast calls for drier weather this weekend so I hope we’ll be able to get back in soon to assess the situation and begin cleaning up,” he said. Warren said damage to the facility from last November’s storm cost the department approximately $30,000.
Flooding and high winds have also caused damage at other WDFW facilities throughout the state. At the Goldendale Hatchery in Klickitat County, 60 mph winds tore the roof off one hatchery residence Tuesday, allowing rainwater to enter the building. No one was hurt, but persistent high winds prevented staff from making repairs.
Other hatchery facilities affected by rising water and flooding conditions include:
- Soos Creek Hatchery in King County, where staff have moved fish and equipment to protected locations.
- Arlington Hatchery in Snohomish County, where a rechanneled creek jumped its banks and entered the hatchery grounds.
- Elochoman Hatchery in Wahkiakum County, where high water flooded a hatchery residence and reduced access to fish ponds.
- Forks Creek Hatchery in Pacific County, where a spring intake overflowed and washed out the access road.
- Spokane Trout Hatchery in Spokane County, where a spawning pond cover and rearing-pond bird netting collapsed due to heavy snow loads.
Warren said other operations have also reported damage and once weather permits, the department will do a complete assessment.
“The entire state’s been affected,” he said. “WDFW employees will continue to monitor facilities and work to protect state resources.”