With the successful repatriation of hatchery produced spring chinook salmon to Oregon’s Umatilla River and more recently to the upper Walla Walla River basin, the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation are proposing an extension of its reintroduction program to the Touchet River in Southeast Washington.
CTUIR is a consortium of the Walla Walla, Umatilla and Cayuse tribes of Northeast Oregon and Southeast Washington united by the Treaty of 1855.
In 2000 CTUIR extended its experimental cultured king introductions to the Walla Walla River and upper Mill Creek where returns were successfully reestablished in 2004 after more than 80 fish-less years.
The planned repatriation project for the Touchet is intended to be the initial phase of an even more comprehensive tribal hatchery fish supplementation project in the lower Snake River basin.
CTUIR fisheries and water management specialists are working in concert with state fish and wildlife agencies, conservation districts, the Army Corp of Engineers, the Bonneville Power Administration and local irrigation authorities to reestablish fish passage and restore riparian corridors along streams that will serve as both spawning and juvenile rearing habitat for early-returning chinook.
In particular, tribal leadership is working one-on-one with local farmers and landowners seeking cooperation rather than dictating what change is to be made, according to a statement on the tribes’ Web site.
Some of the fundamental changes accomplished for the Touchet salmon reintroductions include improving fish passage over the Maiden and Hofer irrigation diversion structures and the purchase of water right through a willing seller program.
Public comment on the CTUIR’s proposal is being accepted by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife through Friday, March 30 via an email link firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information about the Umatilla Confederated Tribe’s spring chinook salmon go to http://www.umatilla.nsn.us/salmon.html.