Three lower Columbia River fish hatcheries will remain open after Congress
budget negotiators agreed to restore funding this week.
The agreement reached by negotiators for the House and Senate restores $1.1
million for operation of the Grays River, Elochoman and Fallert Creek hatcheries. U.S.
Sen. Slade Gorton and other members of the state's congressional delegation
intervened to restore the hatchery funding.
In September the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife announced that
the three hatcheries would be closed because of proposed federal funding cuts for
Mitchell Act hatcheries. The Mitchell Act was passed by Congress in 1938 and
amended in 1946. The Klickitat Hatchery near Goldendale, built in 1949, was the first
Washington state fish hatchery constructed with Mitchell Act funds.
"We are thankful that Congress provided funding that will allow us to move
forward not only for continued future fisheries but also to rebuild natural spawning fish
populations in Southwest Washington," said WDFW Director Bern Shanks.
Fishers off the Washington coast, at the mouth of the Columbia and along its
tributaries will benefit from the hatchery funding, Shanks added.
The three affected hatcheries annually produce almost 1.8 million coho, 7.7
million fall chinook and 500,000 spring chinook.