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Posted 11/16/2017

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By Tom Conning, Public Affairs Office


PORTLAND, Ore. — Like a salmon swimming hundreds of miles to spawning grounds, Portland District has reached the end of a challenging year regarding fish production in Oregon. 

This year was the fifth and final year of a cooperative agreement with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to manage hatchery operations and provide fish production services in the Columbia, Willamette and Rogue river basins. For more than 60 years, Portland District has been paying ODFW for these services to accomplish required mitigation for impacts to habitat and fish passage by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ dams. However, after a review of existing agreements, contract laws and regulations, the District determined a contract, rather than a cooperative agreement, is the appropriate legal document to purchase hatchery operations and fish production services.

“We have a history of using contracts and cooperative agreements to manage hatchery services,” said Tammy Mackey, Portland District Fish Section chief. “Our priority is meeting our mitigation requirements with the contracts and to disrupt services as little as possible.”

During the summer, contract negotiations hit snags and the District extended the cooperative agreement with ODFW to continue hatchery operations. 

“The extra time allowed us to work through the negotiations thoroughly and sign contracts,” continued Mackey. “We needed to keep the hatcheries operating to avoid impacts to the fish being raised in those facilities. Extending the agreements prevented a break in production and allowed us to continue to meet our mitigation responsibilities.”

In the end, Portland District awarded the following contracts to ODFW, Desert Springs Trout Farm, a private business, and the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation:

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife contract awards:
-$4.8 million to operate the Marion Forks, South Santiam, McKenzie and Willamette hatcheries in the Willamette Valley
-$2.1 million to operate the Cole M. Rivers Hatchery in the Rogue River Basin
-$6.2 million to operate and maintain the Bonneville Fish Hatchery on the Columbia River

Desert Springs Trout Farm contract award:
-$1.3 million to supply trout to various streams and lakes in the Willamette Valley 

Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation contract award:
-$51,000 to assist in producing and releasing fall Chinook in the Umatilla River

Additionally, Portland District has no further need to produce trout at Leaburg Hatchery on the McKenzie River. While the District is in the process of making a determination regarding the hatchery’s future, ODFW is still caring for the fish raised there and will release them when appropriate.

“ODFW will continue to provide many of the same hatchery services they provided for decades,” said Andrew Traylor, Portland District hatchery coordinator. “It took a lot of work to get everything in place, and we expect these contracts to serve us and the public well.”

The Corps relies on varied operational approaches, including spill, turbine improvements, surface passage, bypass and fish transportation systems, to address the impacts on fish populations from hydroelectric projects (along with habitat, hatcheries and harvest--commonly referred to as the ‘All H’s’) for an effective fish restoration strategy.