Hatcheries & Acclimation Ponds
Douglas PUD provides funding for the operation and maintenance of two hatchery facilities and three acclimation ponds. The Wells Fish Hatchery facility is located immediately adjacent to Wells Dam. The Methow Fish Hatchery is located approximately 51 miles up the Methow River near the town of Winthrop, Washington. All three acclimation ponds are part of the Methow Hatchery Complex and are used to acclimate spring Chinook prior to release each April. Of the three acclimation ponds, one is located on station at the Methow Fish Hatchery, the second is located at river mile 11 on the Twisp River, and the third is located at river mile 7 on the Chewuch River. All of these hatchery facilities are funded by Douglas PUD and operated by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. They produce approximately 3 million juvenile salmon and steelhead annually which are released into the Methow, Okanogan and Columbia rivers.
Original construction of the Wells Hatchery was completed in 1967. The hatchery produces summer Chinook, summer steelhead and rainbow trout. It was originally developed to compensate for the loss of fish production resulting from the inundation of the Columbia River above the dam. The Wells Hatchery consists of a 6,100 foot long spawning channel with portions of the channel modified to hold adults and juveniles, numerous above ground and in ground raceways, four large earthen rearing ponds a centralized incubation, early rearing, cold storage and administration building, vehicle storage building, steelhead spawning building and a separate set of residences for hatchery personnel.
The Wells Hatchery’s four earthen rearing ponds vary in size and purpose. Pond 1 is used for rearing yearling summer Chinook and is connected to the main hatchery outfall channel via a gate and outlet structure. When acclimated and ready for release, the juvenile summer Chinook are allowed access to the main hatchery outfall channel and are volitionally released into the Columbia River below Wells Dam. Pond 2 is the largest pond and has historically been used to raise yearling summer steelhead. Ponds 3 and 4 are used each year for the rearing of yearling summer steelhead. All of the earthen steelhead rearing ponds have volitional collection and transportation facilities located downstream of their outlet structures. All of the summer steelhead raised at the Wells Hatchery are either truck planted or acclimated in the Methow and Okanogan rivers. No juvenile steelhead are released through the hatchery outfall channel.
Construction of the Methow Hatchery was completed in 1992 and is the result of a Long-term Fish Settlement Agreement to mitigate for passage losses at the Wells Project. In 2004, the Wells HCP was approved by FERC and has replaced the Long-term Fish Settlement Agreement. As a result, the terms of the HCP now guide activities at the Methow and Wells hatcheries.
The Methow Hatchery produces yearling spring Chinook and is dedicated to enhancing spring Chinook salmon in the Methow, Twisp and Chewuch river basins. The Methow Hatchery consists of 12 covered production raceways, three covered adult raceways, a centralized incubation, early rearing, administrative and hatchery maintenance building, one on-site acclimation pond, two satellite acclimation ponds, and a separate set of residences for hatchery personnel.
All 12 of the production raceways and the on-site Methow acclimation pond are equipped with an outlet channel to the Methow River for releasing juvenile spring Chinook. The two satellite ponds are located at river mile 11 on the Twisp River, and the third is located at river mile 7 on the Chewuch River. The Methow Hatchery program currently raises up to 550,000 yearling spring Chinook each year with equal numbers of fish released at each of the three acclimation ponds.
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