Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cle Elum Fish Passage Follow Up

Last week we wrote about an exciting fish passage project on the Cle Elum River and our concerns that an over reliance on hatchery supplementation would slow the establishment of productive, locally adapted wild salmon and steelhead populations in the Upper Cle Elum. A few more details on the proposed reintroduction strategy for the basin.

-The project has set recovery goals for all species except steelhead
Chinook: 3500 adults annually, Coho: 3500 adults, Sockeye: 35,000 adults.

-The current reintroduction relies heavily on hatchery supplementation to reestablish wild populations. The plan calls for the following levels of supplementation:


Release 500-1000 pairs of adults captured at Priest Rapids each year,

Up to 4,000,000 juvenile sockeye produced at an out-of-basin hatchery on Lake Osoyoos.

The Release of 4,000,000 out of basin juvenile sockeye is inadvisable for a number of reasons. That number of fish may actually exceed the capacity of Cle Elum Lake to produce sockeye smolts and will certainly reduce the survival and growth of juvenile offspring from the wild component of the run. Furthermore transfering out of basin hatchery fish into the Yakima Basin poses a risk of introducing disease (Including IHN) into the Upper Cle Elum Basin. Out of basin transfers of hatchery fish is a primary culprit in the spread of many fish diseases.


Release between 500,000 and 1,000,000 coho juveniles into Cle Elum lake.

Release 100-1000 pairs of adult Coho annually, depending on availability.

Once again the proposed level of juvenile supplementation will likely dramatically reduce the capacity for wild coho and other salmonids in the Upper Cle Elum system.


Fewer details are provided with regards to the reintroduction of Spring Chinook only that supplementation would be coordinated through the current YKFP chinook hatchery program on the Upper Yakima.

2500 pairs of hatchery adults may be taken from Rosa annually and transported into the Upper Cle Elum

Given the availability of wild colonists in the Upper Yakima Chinook should be allowed to colonize the river naturally. YKFP supplementation on the Upper Yakima may already be altering the productivity, and lifehistory distribution in the few remaining wild Upper Yakima spring chinook.


The current plan does not propose any hatchery supplementation for Wild Steelhead in the Upper Cle Elum.

Unfortunately the plan does not guarantee passage of wild steelhead into the Upper Watershed saying only, "NMFS would be consulted before any steelhead adults that voluntarily enter the adult fish trap below Cle Elum Dam are handled or transported to the resevoir above the dam using trap-and haul methods"

We are pleased that no supplementation is currently planned for wild steelhead in the Upper Cle Elum however, passage of Steelhead through the trap and haul facility is essential to the recovery of wild steelhead in the Cle Elum as well as the Upper Yakima. The Cle Elum offers some of the most intact and productive freshwater habitat remaining in the Upper Yakima. Populations of resident rainbow trout (present in the Upper Cle Elum) routinely produce smolts and failure to pass any returning adults would not allow the anadromous life history to recover in the Upper Cle Elum.

Check out the original post for links to the DEIS and details of how you can get involved and tell the Bureau of Reclaimation, and Department of Ecology that Wild Fish should be the priority of any reintroduction plan in the Upper Cle Elum.

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