The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation began construction of the Walla Walla River Fish Hatchery with a groundbreaking ceremony at the site Friday.
The project, 10 miles east of Milton-Freewater, is being funded by the Bonneville Power Administration. When completed, it’s expected to return thousands of adult spring Chinook salmon to tributaries throughout the Walla Walla River Basin. It is also predicted that it will double the amount of young fish released into the Touchet and South Fork Walla Walla rivers. An estimated 80 percent of the smolts are earmarked for the South Fork Walla Walla River and the remainder will go into the Touchet River.
“We are really pleased that this project is moving forward,” CTUIR Board of Trustees Chairwoman Kat Brigham stated in a prepared release. “We expect the facility to produce more fish for the environment, our people, and the region.”
Hatchery construction is expected to be completed by spring 2021. The first adult salmon returns to the basin are anticipated by 2026.