Tribes break ground on hatchery that aims to restore salmon

MILTON-FREEWATER, Ore. (AP) — The Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation has broke ground on a long-awaited hatchery in the Walla Wall River basin.

During a ground-breaking event at the South Fork Walla Walla Chinook salmon spawning facility outside Milton-Freewater,

Tribal Board of Trustees Vice Chair Jeremy Wolf said at the ceremony last week that the spring Chinook hatchery, a more than $20 million project funded by the Bonneville Power Administration, is anticipated to open in the spring of 2021.

It could bring more than 2,000 adult salmon back to the Walla Walla Basin by 2025, he said. According to the BPA, it could eventually return 5,000 adult salmon to the basin each year.

“This is going to benefit the entire system of Walla Walla, and the whole state,” Wolf said.

It’s a project that has been a part of an overall comprehensive program related to the health of fish and water in the Walla Walla Basin for more than 30 years now. The site already has a spawning facility for salmon and steelhead released into the Umatilla Basin, and the addition of an onsite hatchery will allow the tribes to localize the egg-rearing process.