Steps to Recovery
Fish carcasses from Lewis River and Speelyai Hatcheries are processed, frozen, thawed “in season,” and distributed in South and North Forks of Chelatchie Creeks, East Fork of the Lewis River, Green River, Rock Creek and the Lewis River. This imitates the nutrient distribution that used to take place naturally when wild salmon were abundant. Led by Fish First and volunteers including local landowners, the cub scouts, members of Clark-Skamania Flyfishers and the Battleground High School Kaycee Center, over 50,000 pounds of nutrients have been distributed using over 3500 volunteer hours.
Fish First has opened up miles of habitat by replacing defective culverts with ones that mimic the stream bottom
Remote Site Incubator (RSI)
Aiming to re-introduce natural spawning Coho salmon into several small tributaries of the North Fork - including Hayes, Robinson, Ross, Cotton, and Houghton Creeks. RSI's or "Egg Boxes" have been used to hatch approximately 3,500,000 Coho eggs from the Lewis River Hatchery. Volunteers install, monitor, and maintain the boxes for about five months. This program will continue until enough Coho salmon are returning to these streams to sustain their runs.
In the beginning, Fish First put 10,000 fertilized coho eggs in eight different egg boxes. Three years later, about seven to 15 fish returned to each box. Then, Fish First realized that years of not having spawners on the creek had left it seriously deficient of nutrients. Volunteers started collecting hatchery carcasses and placing them in the streams, sometimes by truck, sometimes by hand carrying them upstream. The result of putting nutrients back in the system are undeniable. Instead of seven to 15 fish returning per box, Fish First saw 250 to 400 fish return per box.
Fish Rescue Program
Dave Brown, with support from the WA Dept. of Fish and Wildlife and Fish First, saves salmon and steelhead. Juvenile fish are collected from local streams and tributaries before they dry up. Reared and fed in ponds on Dave's property, the fish grow until late fall when they are returned to the rivers and streams in which they were born. This programs momentum is building as more adults return each year and correspondingly more juveniles are found in the streams in the summer.