Chelan PUD Considers Fisheries Contract with Yakima Nation

15-year agreement to regenerate Coho Salmon in Rock Island and Rocky Reach Reservoirs.

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PUD Tribe Fisheries Pact

WENATCHEE, WA.-The Chelan County PUD Board of Commissioners considers a new long-term, 15-year fisheries contract with the Yakama Nation. The PUD and the Tribe have had an agreement for the past ten years to conduct a pilot program for the reintroduction of coho salmon into the Rock Island and Rocky Reach reservoirs. Under the agreement, the Yakama Nation will continue its work to reestablish naturally spawning coho populations in the mid-Columbia tributaries to biologically sustainable levels and to provide significant harvest in most years.

The 15-year cost of the program is $9.7 million. The proposed contract provides for the PUD to join the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), along with Grant and Douglas PUDs to provide for the reintroduction of coho. It’s important to note that all of the signatories to the PUD’s HCP have endorsed this proposal.

“We have learned a lot during the past ten years,” Alene Underwood, PUD Fish & Wildlife manager told the Commission. “This contract would fully implement the pilot project we have had with the Yakamas and would give the PUD Habitat Conservation Plans (HCP) long-term certainty for protecting coho salmon. Our hatchery programs are a key element to our commitment of No Net Impact for salmon and steelhead migrating past Rock Island and Rocky Reach.”

Under the agreement, the Yakama Nation will continue its work to reestablish naturally spawning coho populations in the mid-Columbia tributaries to biologically sustainable levels and to provide significant harvest in most years. The 15-year cost of the program is $9.7 million.

“Resource stewardship is a fundamental value for the PUD,” added General Manager Steve Wright.  “This agreement is the most cost effective option that that we considered and it guarantees our coho compliance for the full 15 years.”

The HCPs are an obligation Chelan PUD has to satisfy salmon and steelhead protection under its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) licenses for Rocky Reach and Rock Island Dams.

Staff will be back on Sept. 17, to seek Commission approval.