OLYMPIA – A multi-agency technical group involved in rebuilding naturally spawning salmon and steelhead runs on the upper Cowlitz River will host a public meeting March 20 in Centralia to share input received from experts for improving fish collection at the Cowlitz Falls Dam.
The meeting will be held from 6 p.m. to 9:15 p.m. in Room 103 of Washington Hall at the Centralia College, 600 Centralia College Blvd.
“This meeting is designed to let people know the range of options for improving fish passage currently under discussion,” said Pat Frazier, region fish manager for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
Frazier and Tacoma Power Senior Fisheries Biologist Mark LaRiviere will present options proposed by fish-passage experts at a recent two-day workshop for improving conditions for juvenile salmon and steelhead moving past the dam. Juvenile fish are transported past the river’s dams to the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery and soon afterward released back to the Cowlitz River to continue their journey to the ocean.
The options presented at the workshop are now under consideration by the Cowlitz River Fisheries Technical Committee (FTC), which advises Tacoma Power on fisheries and hatchery management provisions of the utility’s federal hydroelectric project license and related settlement agreement on the Cowlitz River.
Under the hydroelectric license and settlement agreement, Tacoma Power is required to increase survival rates of young salmon and steelhead through the hydroelectric system. “Improving fish collection at the dam is a major factor in the effort to rebuild wild salmon and steelhead run on the upper watershed,” Frazier said.
Members of the FTC include WDFW, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Washington Department of Ecology, the Yakama Nation, Trout Unlimited, American Rivers and Tacoma Power, which owns and operates two hydroelectric dams on the river.