It’s early August in central Washington. Three blocks from Aspect’s Wenatchee office, the Columbia River rolls downstream on its way to the Pacific Ocean. Beneath the surface, adult Chinook salmon swim upstream, returning from the sea to the rivers where they were born. Some of these fish are destined for the Entiat River and may eventually find themselves climbing the ladder to the Entiat National Fish Hatchery (ENFH).
Although all salmon hatcheries share a similar goal of producing fish, they each have unique characteristics that influence the way in which they operate. Aspect’s Wenatchee team is visiting ENFH today to learn about the specific challenges that Craig Chisam and Jason Reeves of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) face at their facility, and what they have done to solve them. Meeting with the operators directly, seeing systems in action, and asking questions helps Aspect build a collective understanding for problem solving that can be applied to help other hatchery facilities throughout the Pacific Northwest.
This isn’t the first time Aspect has been to ENFH. In 2014, hydrogeologists Joe Morrice and Tim Flynn performed an assessment of the hatchery’s existing water supplies and rights, and the condition of water-source infrastructure. Their recommendations for improving the hatchery’s access to a reliable supply of cold, clean water are being pursued by the USFWS. More water for the tanks and raceways means better rearing conditions for the 400,000 juvenile Chinook ENFH releases each year.
Following the tour, the group makes a stop along the Entiat to look for adult salmon moving upstream. Engineers Nick Szot and Ryan Brownlee, both avid fishermen, point at pools that hold fish and talk strategy. Some early morning soon, they will return to the river with rods and tackle. With some luck, they may head home with a fish that Craig and Jason helped raise.