Upper Skagit Tribe replaces hatchery roof

SEDRO-WOOLLEY (Dec. 1, 2008) – The Upper Skagit Indian Tribe built a new roof for its hatchery, to protect fish and children from the elements.

The 20-year-old hatchery used to have a roof that didn’t completely cover two circular tanks that hold adult chum salmon before spawning. The tanks also are the centerpiece of the tribe’s Kids Fishing Days each spring, when they are stocked with rainbow trout for invited preschoolers to catch.

“It usually rains at least once during Kids Fishing Days,” said Scott Schuyler, Upper Skagit natural resources director. “The roof will keep the kids dry. It also will keep the tanks cooler, creating less stress for the fish.”

Other improvements include additional storage space and a loft office under the pitched roof.

Most tribal hatcheries in western Washington were built with federal money after the 1974 Boldt decision reaffirmed tribes’ treaty-protected right to 50 percent of harvestable fish. But the federal government has not provided sufficient continued funding to maintain aging tribal hatchery facilities.

The Upper Skagit Tribe had to apply two years in a row for a $10,000 hatchery maintenance grant from the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs to drum up enough money to build a new roof.

The tribe began its chum enhancement program in 1990 to increase harvestable numbers for tribal ceremonial and subsistence use, as well as nontribal fishing in the terminal area of the Skagit River. The hatchery also is a key component of the tribe’s cultural and environmental education programs, such as Kids Fishing Days and other events throughout the year.

For more information, contact: Scott Schuyler, natural resources director, Upper Skagit Tribe, 360-854-7090 or [email protected]; Kari Neumeyer, information officer, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, 360-424-8226 or [email protected].