Yakama Nation Sockeye Reintroduction IX

Salmonid Hatcheries and Harvest Management

Hatchery Production
Project ID18-Yaka-01
Recovery DomainsInterior Columbia
Start Date06/01/2019
End Date06/30/2024
Last Edited04/18/2023
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The Yakama Nation will continue to implement a sockeye salmon reintroduction project in the headwater reservoirs of the Yakima River Basin. Prior to impoundment for irrigation purposes, the natural lakes in the upper watershed were estimated to have produced annual adult returns of several hundred thousand. The irrigation impoundment dams were constructed without fish passage facilities and the native sockeye populations were extirpated. This reintroduction effort will utilize wild adult sockeye of Wenatchee and Okanagan stock that are trapped at Priest Rapids Dam and released directly into Lake Cle Elum. This is a straight adult reintroduction, no hatchery process is utilized in this project. Expansion of the program to other reservoirs in the system is intended as funding sources and feasibility planning are further developed.

This project is a cooperative effort initiated in 2009 between the Yakama Nation and US Bureau of Reclamation, which manages Lake Cle Elum for irrigation purposes. Project funding from USBOR is assured for at least the next 8 years to support one FTE assigned to work with USBOR on the final design of permanent juvenile and adult fish passage facilities on Lake Cle Elum. Once these facilities are operating the fish managers anticipate that increasing returns of naturally-produced adult offspring of the sockeye currently being trapped at PRD and released into the lake will gradually reduce the need to bring in sockeye from outside the basin. The cost of both the adult and juvenile facilities is estimated to cost $100 million; they are being constructed in phases as funding becomes available. Phase I involved putting in a new road, a bridge over the spillway for access and leveling of the site for the adult fish facility. The contract for Phase II has been issued and this will involve digging the hole for the helix part of the juvenile fish bypass structure.

PCSRF funds are requested to provide staff and logistical support in 2019 and 2020 and beyond to continue an essential element of the sockeye reintroduction program: the trap-and-haul project that transports up to 10,000 adult sockeye salmon from Priest Rapids Dam for release into Lake Cle Elum that occurs annually during the sockeye migration from the ocean in June and July. This project occurs concurrently with efforts to reduce the abundance of Mackinaw (Salvelinus namaycush), an introduced predator of juvenile sockeye, in Lake Cle Elum. The number of adult sockeye that can be removed at the (OLAFT) is proportional to the total sockeye run size to the Columbia River. Genetic samples are randomly taken from adults before the transfer to Lake Cle Elum (using PCRSF funds) which will be analyzed by CRITFC Hagerman Laboratories (non-PCSRF funds) For this process 2 CDL certified truck drivers, two Fish Tech II, one full-time Fish Tech and Project Lead/Biologist are utilized in the transfer of sockeye from PRD to Lake Cle Elum (using PCRSF funds). Once the sockeye has arrived at Priest Rapids Dam we can transport up to four loads a day. We can start as early as 5:00 AM with the last truck return back to the Dam at 8:00 PM. The project crew will find lodging in the area (motel or rental house), daily per-dium and are paid overtime for the duration of the transport (using PCSRF funds).

Spawning ground surveys will be conducted weekly at Lake CleElum. All redds will be GPS’d, and this data is used to determine range of adults in the Cle Elum and Cooper rivers (using PSCRF funds). Also, genetic samples will be taken from all morts found to determine which basin they originated from (non-PCSRF funds). We will also estimate population—fry to smolt survival and smolt output—using Hydro Acoustic survey (using PSCRF funds).

Project Benefit    

The benefit of this project is to reintroduce sockeye back into its historical areas within the Yakima River Basin starting first with Lake Cle Elum. The YN views this project as not only returning sockeye to its historical range, but also as a major part of rebuilding the ecosystem as a whole. In addition to enhancing the diversity, spatial distribution, and resiliency of the aggregate Columbia River sockeye stock, this reintroduction restores the well-described and broad benefits of marine-derived nutrients to a myriad of aquatic and terrestrial species in the upper Yakima watershed, including ESA-listed bull trout and summer steelhead. Removing introduced Mackinaw from the lake is also a critical part of restoring a self-sustaining sockeye population and natural ecosystem function.


Metric Completed Originally

Funding Details

Report Total:$395,000

Project Map


Lake Cle Elum    

  • Worksite Identifier: Lake Cle Elum
  • Start Date: 06/01/2019
  • End Date: 10/31/2022
Area Description

No Area Description data was found for this worksite.

Location Information

  • Basin: Yakima
  • Subbasin:
  • Watershed:
  • Subwatershed:
  • State: Washington
  • Recovery Domain: Interior Columbia
  • Latitude: 47.282
  • Longitude: -121.1075


  • Un-Named ESU Sockeye




  • D.0 Salmonid Hatcheries and Harvest ManagementY (Y/N)
    •      . . D.0.a Hatchery and harvest mgmt. funding .00
    •      . . D.0.b
      Complement habitat restoration project
    •      . . D.0.c
      Project Identified in a plan or watershed assessment.
    •      . . D.1 Hatchery Production ProjectY (Y/N)
      •      . . . . D.1.a Hatchery Production Funding
      •      . . . . D.1.e.1 Native/wild broodstock collection/relocationY (Y/N)
        •      . . . . . . D.1.e.2 Number by species of broodstock collected (LOV)