BPA Administrator John Hairston and other dignitaries celebrate the Tribe and its work to produce more salmon and steelhead for the Columbia, Snake and Clearwater river basins.
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BPA’s tribal relationships and partnerships with other government and nongovernmental entities ensure we can meet our obligations to mitigate the effects of the hydro system on fish and wildlife in the Columbia and Snake river basins.

BPA Administrator John Hairston
BPA Administrator John Hairston joined the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, tribal leaders and representatives of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to celebrate the Nez Perce Tribe’s new leadership role in managing fish production at  Dworshak National Fish Hatchery in Ahsahka, Idaho. 

BPA ratepayers provide funding for the 50-year-old hatchery, which is key to producing salmon and steelhead for the Columbia, Clearwater and Snake river basin.

At the June 16 ceremony and celebration, U.S. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland and other dignitaries officially turned over fish rearing responsibilities and facility maintenance to the Nez Perce Tribe, which has co-managed the hatchery with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for nearly 20 years.

“It was an honor for me to represent BPA at this event with the Nez Perce Tribe and other leaders and dignitaries,” said Hairston. “BPA’s tribal relationships and partnerships with other government and nongovernmental entities ensure we can meet our obligations to mitigate the effects of the hydro system on fish and wildlife in the Columbia and Snake river basins.” 

While the Tribe now leads fish production, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will continue to own and partially fund the hatchery, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will administer the facility and be in charge of fish health. Bonneville ratepayers will continue to financially support the hatchery through funding agreements with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as mitigation for the construction and operation of federal hydroelectric facilities.

Dworshak Dam and National Fish Hatchery sit at the confluence of the main stem Clearwater River and its North Fork, a traditionally important place where Nez Perce people gathered to fish since time immemorial. On one riverbank lies the heritage site where the Nez Perce helped hungry members of the Lewis and Clark expedition build five dugout canoes for its journey down the Clearwater, Snake and Columbia rivers to the Pacific Ocean in the fall of 1805.

The Dworshak Dam was built in 1969 and at the time was the third-tallest in the United States. At 717 feet, it was far too high for fish passage. Today, its national hatchery facility shoulders a hefty roster of responsibilities as it rears millions of   young fish, or smolts, including summer steelhead, spring chinook and coho salmon, as mitigation for the Federal Columbia River Power System under the Lower Snake River Compensation Plan and Dworshak Dam Project. Nez Perce tribal leaders say they are more than ready to take over the fish production.

"Our management of this hatchery is an expression of our tribal sovereignty and provides an opportunity for us to continue our cultural stewardship to care for salmon, which are central to our traditional way of life," said Samuel Penney, Chairman of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee. "We have confidence that the fish we produce here and our other hatcheries will provide excellent harvest opportunities for Indian and non-Indian people in the Clearwater, Snake and Columbia rivers for years to come."

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