Spring Cr. Hatchery celebrates Saturday

A10: Spring creek fish hatchery

Saturday's 100th anniversary celebration at Spring Creek National Fish Hatchery promises something for people of all ages.

The event will take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with a ceremony at 10:30 a.m. The day will be filled with viewing of adult tule fall chinook salmon, hatchery tours, educational, natural, cultural, and historical displays and demonstrations. The Yakama Nation will be providing cultural dancing and demonstrations in the afternoon. They will also be providing a concession featuring Indian tacos and Indian fry bread, in addition to a salmon-bake. Visitors can test their golf skills in navigating a salmon to ocean and back.

Due to the Clackamas Station being an unsuitable site for egg collection, the U.S. Fish Commission began to look for new areas to collect eggs. In the fall of 1896, the streams on both sides of the Columbia River, between Viento and Celilo Falls, were surveyed for the possible establishment of auxiliary substations for taking and eyeing salmon eggs. The White Salmon River showed good prospect. The White Salmon River historically contained both spring and fall chinook salmon runs. The following fall, two large racks and a downstream trap were constructed at the mouth of the Big White Salmon River and 3,415,000 eggs were secured and transported by boat to a site on the Little White Salmon River where other salmon eggs were being collected and incubated.

It was in 1901 that Dennis Winn, then stationed at the Little White Salmon Hatchery, delivered the first fall chinook eggs to Spring Creek, taken from the White Salmon River by rowboat. At that time there were no roads or railroads -- the only access to Spring Creek area was by Columbia River steamers. By 1919, the forms were set for the first known residence on site, called the cottage. State Route 14 was not completed until 1920.

In 1934, Congress passed the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act that required federal agencies to consider fish losses resulting from water development projects. The Mitchell Act, passed in 1938, authorized funding to preserve and protect Columbia River Basin salmon.

The first major changes to the Spring Creek National Fish Hatchery wouldn't be seen until the completion of Bonneville Dam in 1938. The pool of water created behind the dam began to rise and cause flooding problems for the hatchery. In 1941, U.S. Corps of Engineers Bonneville Dam engineers reestablished the station by moving the hatchery buildings, constructing a new fish ladder and building new concrete circular ponds. It was during this time that the hatchery became known as the Underwood Station.

The Spring Creek National Fish Hatchery was redesigned and rebuilt by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1972, an expansion designed to partially compensate for the loss of fall chinook spawning grounds caused by dam construction elsewhere along the Columbia River.

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