Cole M. Rivers Hatchery

Cole Rivers Hatchery (CRH)  was constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in 1973 to mitigate for spawning and rearing areas blocked by the construction of William Jess Dam (Lost Creek Dam and Reservoir), Applegate, and Elk Creek Dams. Hatchery fish are released to replace the adult returns and associated fishery, from lost fish production above the dams. Cole Rivers Hatchery is owned by USACE and operated under contract by Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW). ODFW is responsible for routine maintenance and is responsible for maintaining hatchery housing as USACE allows use without charge.

Latest Updates

Aging infrastructure continues to cause problems at the hatchery. In addition, pond space is limited since fish production at Rock Creek Hatchery was transferred to CRH after the Archie Creek Fire in 2020 destroyed Rock Creek.

Cole Rivers Hatchery continues to operate under full production despite these extenuating circumstances.  While the hatchery continues to operate and fish are being released, there have been some infrastructures and in-hatchery issues in the past two years that have/will impact angler opportunity.

Infrastructure Problems

Water Supply
The water supply system for the hatchery is extremely complex and will be the biggest part of the
rehabilitation. The delivery and treatment system (mechanical filtration and UV sterilization) providing water to the hatch house is ineffective and insufficient for production needs. The work and discussions between ODFW and USACE has been ongoing for several years, and unfortunately poor water quality resulted in disease outbreaks, low oxygen events, and fish loss. 

The surface of many concrete structures, including the raceways and the fish ladder, has degraded over time which can result in leaks, provide a surface for algae to grow on, or increased the risk of abrasion in fish.

Many of the roofs have substantial leaks that impact the integrity of the buildings.

Power Supply
In April 2021, the main electrical power feeder from Lost Creek Dam to the hatchery failed. This is a 4,675-foot-long underground direct buried cable. Multiple faults were isolated within a segmented 2,270-foot section of the cable. Splicing repairs were attempted and were unsuccessful, and it was determined that the entirety of the line needed replacement.  Since then, CRH has been using generators (and backup generators) to provide electricity. However, these generators cannot supply the same wattage as the permanent power source.

The lack of adequate power means water heaters can’t be powered. This impacts growth rates for some production groups. The result is that it affects our ability to meet “size at release goals” which can reduce survival rates and pose a risk to naturally produced fish.

Operating costs are also significantly higher due to generator fuel and service costs.

Addressing the Problems

Water Supply (Expected completion date - 2027)
The USACE began the first phase of the project which involves producing a Design Documentation Report (DDR). This phase is expected to be completed by mid-2024.

During the second phase, USACE engineers will use the results of the DDR to develop detailed engineering designs. The USACE will then begin a procurement process to award a bid to a contractor(s) for the work. Construction is expected to begin in 2025 and take about two years.

Concrete (Expected completion date to be determined)
Concrete inspections have been completed on the adult fishway at both the hatchery and Applegate fish trap. These inspections are the first step in determining what work will need to be completed.

Roofing (Expected completion date is summer 2023, but may extend into 2024 depending on available funds)
USACE is in the process of contracting to begin work on the roofs this summer.

Power Supply (Expected completion date - September 2023)
Following the failure, the USACE attempted to fix the existing cable by making five splices with 300’ of new cable. This process took several months but unfortunately the cable could not be re-energized. The USACE then explored several options to restore power at this site but ultimately determined that a complete replacement was the most viable option.

USACE has completed digging trenches in preparation for delivery of the electric cable (Lead time for the cable was more than a year due to supply chain disruptions). Once delivered, the cable will be installed and reenergized.

As part of testing the system prior to re-energizing, the USACE determined that the transformer powering the cable was near its end of life. Transformers such as this have a two-year lead time, so the USACE has proactively started scoping its replacement.


These repairs and replacements will cost millions of dollars and take several years to accomplish. As a federal facility, USACE is responsible for providing a functioning facility for our contractor, currently ODFW. However, USACE must balance many competing priorities for investments in aging infrastructure to meet our diverse set of missions.

USACE has identified the specific facility components that require repair or replacement and is implementing projects as funding is received. In Fiscal Year 22 and 23 a total of more than $5M has been appropriated to this project through congressional appropriations and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This funding is going towards replacing the broken power line, partial replacement of roofs, and beginning the design for rehabilitating the water supply system.