Glimpse: Leavenworth (Washington) National Fish Hatchery

  • Salmon eggs waiting to hatch.

I have been fascinated by salmon since Tom and I owned a small newspaper in Fort Bragg, California, a vibrant fishing harbor north of San Francisco. At the time we were there, in the late-80s, the salmon fishermen were slowly going broke, facing more and more closure days as the salmon populations declined. So, I was interested to see the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery, one of the hatcheries built to help blunt the loss of habitat when the Grand Coulee Dam was built on the Columbia River in the 1930s. Today, it raises and releases 1.2 million juvenile spring Chinook salmon into Icicle Creek each year. A pilot project is also under way to mix colder, pumped groundwater into the creek to improve fish habitat. You can visit the buckets, trays, tanks and raceways where the salmon move from fertilized egg to hatchling to fingerling to smotes, which are released in April. We later hiked along the Wenatchee River, where we could see salmon swimming in the cool deep water. Despite substantial efforts, salmon populations continue to decline. Here’s a glimpse.

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