Collaboration and “we have a lot more work to do” were the two points consistently made Friday at the dedication of the Springfield Hatchery.
“This is an important next step in a very important resource,” said Ed Schriever, Idaho Department Fish & Game Fisheries bureau chief. “This is the largest success story in recovery of an animal from Lonesome Larry to where we are now.
“We are not just about raising fish,” he said. “This is magical but it’s not magic.”
“There’s science behind this,” said Schriever. “Genetic analysis is used for the maximum amount of production.”
The Sockeye Recovery Program is a multi-agency and tribal effort.
The Idaho Fish and Game is responsible for program oversight, fish culture, monitoring and evaluation.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries share fish culture responsibilities.
Members of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes help with monitoring and evaluating and lake fertilization.
The Northwest Power and Conservation Council supported this project and approved each step.
“Sockeye salmon have been brought back from the brink of extinction,” said Virgil Moore, director of the Idaho Fish & Game.
The Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) funded this $13.5 million project.
The BPA works with hydro, habitat and hatchery of the Columbia and Snake River Basins, said Lorri Bodie, vice president of Environment Fish & Wildlife for the Bonneville Power Administration.
“We are required to meet and exceed 96 percent for survival of spring migrating fish and 93 percent for survival of summer migrating fish by 2018,” said Bodie. “We are ahead of schedule.
Dave Parrish, sport fishing program coordinator for the Idaho Fish & Game, said, “After a million salmon are spawned, Fish & Game hopes to be able to stock Redfish Lake and other lakes in the Stanley Basin for sockeye fishing.
“That will be in about eight years, hopefully,” said Parrish.
The timeline for recovery of sockeye:
In November 1991, Snake River sockeye were added to the federal endangered species list. (This was the same year Black-footed ferrets and California condors were added.)
That same year a lone male sockeye, named “Lonesome Larry” by then-Gov. Cecil Andrus, returned to Redfish Lake in the Stanley Basin.
From 1991-1998, 16 wild sockeye returned to Idaho. The gene pool for the restoration of sockeye has been drawn from these fish.
In 1999, the first seven hatchery origin sockeye returned.
In 2008, Eagle Hatchery expanded. It serves as the primary facility for culturing captive sockeye broodstock and holding adult sockeye that return to the Stanley Basin from the ocean.
As of Aug. 20, 2013, 735 adults have returned. Over 10 years, the average return of sockeye to Idaho is 629.