(Editor's note: Officials from the Colville Tribes will present a check to WDFW staff at the hatchery in Colville on Friday, July 23, at 1 p.m.)
For the second year in a row, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation (Colville Tribes) are paying most of the operating costs of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife's (WDFW) Colville Fish Hatchery.
The hatchery was destined to close last year when WDFW faced a potentially huge budget deficit and was forced to cut funding for it and other hatcheries across the state. The Colville Tribes then stepped forward with funds to keep the hatchery open.
Now, with the state's 1999-2000 budget year just underway and funding still unavailable for the Colville hatchery, the tribes are once again picking up most of the tab, paying $68,000 of the hatchery's $78,000 annual operating costs.
"The Department and recreational fishers greatly appreciate the generosity of the Colville Tribes," said Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission Chairman Kelly White. "It is especially gratifying to see this kind of support, especially now when natural resource agencies everywhere are seeing their budgets shrink while their responsibilities grow. Providing recreational fishing while tending to all our needed wild salmonid recovery work is difficult at best. We simply can't do it alone."
Joe Peone, Program Manager of the Colville Tribes' Fish and Wildlife Department, explained that tribal members enjoy fishing in waters stocked by the hatchery, so funding the program has direct benefits to the tribe. Peone also noted the Colville Tribes' support for the hatchery upholds the spirit of the Tribes' conservation agreements and other successful partnerships with WDFW.
The funds to support the hatchery are donated on behalf of the Colville Tribes from revenue generated through its gaming division, explained Terry Knapton, CEO of the Colville Tribal Enterprise Corporation. "Again this year this is a positive purpose for utilizing tribal gaming dollars to support the community as a whole, tribal and non- tribal," Knapton said.
"If the Colville Tribes continue funding this facility into the future," Peone said, "we would like to coordinate management of the hatchery and secure long-term funding."
About 734,000 rainbow and cutthroat trout are raised at the hatchery each year, mostly from eggs collected from local lake broodstocks. The two to three-inch trout fry are stocked in about 60 fishing lakes throughout Stevens, Ferry, and Pend Oreille counties.