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Several employees from the Colville Confederated Tribes (CCT) Fish and Wildlife Department attended an Okanogan County Commissioner's meeting recently to discuss the Okanogan River Salmon Weir project, a temporary testing structure. The weir will be installed and fully-operational by July, 2011.
"We will use the temporary weir for evaluation purposes for the next two summers," said Joe Peone, CCT Fish and Wildlife Director. "In the future if permitting is approved, we will use a more permanent structure for broodstock management, to capture the hatchery-origin salmon that we want to harvest and allow the passage of wild Chinook salmon. It's exciting to bring our traditional ways back to use again in the Okanogan River," said Peone.
Bryan Nass, consultant for LGL Limited, an environmental research company based
in Ellensburg, WA, was hired by the tribe and has been collecting data for approximately two years. Nass looked at several locations along the river, checking water levels, human and boat traffic.
"We have been working on a concept, collecting some data initially," said Nass. "There are lots of reasons for weirs, to remove fish you don't want to get to the spawning grounds, to collect information on wildstock, and for harvesting purposes. We will be evaluating this year on how the fish re-act to the structure, test aspects of fish capture, handling, passage and live release," he said. "During the target period of operations, there is very little boat traffic to the area where the temporary structure will be built."
The Okanogan River temporary testing structure is being funded by Grant Public Utility District and will be operating around the clock for a one week period in each of the months of July, August, and September, employing 4 to 6 tribal members.
"We want to monitor the behavior of summer Chinook and sockeye salmon as they approach the weir structure," said Peone. "We do not want to delay migration of these salmon."
This project will provide the Tribe with data which will inform the public process required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that Bonneville Power Administration will conduct in order to fund a more permanent structure.
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