At Wizard Falls Hatchery in Camp Sherman, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife incubates and raises brook, cutthroat and rainbow trout, as well as kokanee to fill popular fishing lakes and ponds throughout Central Oregon.
The hatchery’s efforts provide a fishery for those campers and day-use anglers who want to catch their next meal or teach their kids a favorite pastime.
Yet, the older age of the infrastructure was making it more difficult to provide fish and to do so efficiently, said ODFW Fish Propagation Program Manager Scott Patterson.
With repairs completed in December using Restoration & Enhancement Program funding, Wizard Falls Hatchery – originally built in 1947 – is now back up to speed, using less water to rear more fish, which saves money over the long term, Patterson said.
“We increased the capacity of that hatchery,” Patterson said.
ODFW runs 32 fish hatcheries located throughout Oregon, as well as another 30-plus facilities that serve to trap or acclimate fish.
Many are showing their age. R&E funding is making it possible for the hatchery program to make repairs that keep fish production going to preserve fishing and education opportunities throughout Oregon.
This includes another recently finished project – at Wallowa Hatchery in Enterprise – and a major, collaborative effort that’s scheduled this year at Clackamas Hatchery in Estacada.
Wizard Falls Hatchery
Fish from this hatchery are distributed to about 30 different lakes and ponds, many of them in the Bend area, Patterson said.
In addition to producing trout, this hatchery incubates and rears spring Chinook as part of an upper Deschutes Basin reintroduction effort.
ODFW replaced the aging circular raceways with linear raceways, Patterson said. It also added connections so that the ponds can fill one another.
The fixes increased “efficiencies in production and in survival. The circular raceways were cracked. We lost valuable water through those cracks, as well as small fish, too.” Patterson said. “I think we improved our survival from a small fry to a fingerling by about 25 to 30 percent.”
“It allows us to raise more fish if we need to, and gives us flexibility,” Patterson added.
Wallowa Hatchery, built in 1920, is part of the Lower Snake River Compensation Program (LSRCP), meant to reduce losses of spring Chinook and summer steelhead caused by dams. That program is run by ODFW, but funded by the LSRCP. It includes improvements made in 1985: a fish ladder, hatchery building and large acclimation ponds.
The hatchery’s other role is to raise rainbow trout for Wallowa Lake, a popular fishing and camping area.
“We stock about 45,000 fish in Wallowa Lake every year,” Patterson said. “About half of them get caught.”
Though the newer space and equipment is shared, other parts of the hatchery, including rainbow trout raceways, had deteriorated and needed repair. With R&E funding, they resurfaced raceways in a project finished in October. This increased the number of trout produced on site to 75,000 from about 60,000, Patterson said.
“By raising them closer to your release site, it’s just much more efficient. Saves on time, equipment, mileage,” Patterson said.
This collaborative project at Clackamas Hatchery will add major efficiencies, and maximizes R&E funding. The overall cost is estimated at $2 million, with $200,000 of that from the R&E program and the remainder from PGE and other ODFW funds.
Clackamas Hatchery, built in 1979, is used for adult collection, egg incubation and rearing of spring chinook and winter steelhead, as well as rearing of coho and acclimation of summer steelhead.
Currently, the hatchery pumps water out of the Clackamas River and the River Mill Dam.
Once construction is completed, water will instead move through a gravity feed line from the River Mill Reservoir, Patterson said, providing annual cost savings.
This also will make it possible for ODFW to rear more fish. With current flows of water, they can’t supply all the fish rearing units at the same time, Patterson said. The new gravity line will allow them to distribute water to the entire hatchery.
Construction could begin as soon as June, depending on federal approval. Connections to link the new and old pipeline could conclude the project as soon as October, Patterson said.
“It will help us deliver water more efficiently to the hatchery, which will allow us to bring more fish on station for release to the Clackamas River,” Patterson said.