A $72,000 contribution from Squaxin Island Tribe will prevent a 75 percent cut in chinook production at the state’s Tumwater Falls salmon hatchery.
“If the tribe hadn’t been able to help the state, only one million chinook would’ve been released,” Jeff Dickison, assistant natural resources director for the tribe, said in a prepared statement.
Production at the Deschutes River facility has been steady at 4 million chinook, but because of a shortfall in funding, production would have dropped to 1 million. Production has been as high as 12 million fall chinook at the facility since the program began in the 1950s.
Chinook from the Deschutes contribute to fisheries throughout the region.
“This chinook run, at the far southern head of Puget Sound, is incredibly important because these fish are caught everywhere from Alaska to Budd Inlet,” Joe Peters, harvest biologist for the tribe, said in a tribal news release.
“And, actually, the vast majority of these fish are caught in sport fisheries between Everett and Tacoma.”
“We have been grateful to the tribe for their pledge to step in and support the funding that essentially maintains the contemporary fall Chinook production in the south Puget Sound area. It’s important for tribal and non-tribal fisheries alike,” said Heather Bartlett, hatcheries division manager for the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
A shrinking state budget over the past few years has put pressure on natural resources agencies, including salmon hatchery production.
“The money the state spends on (the Department of Fish and Wildlife) is less than 1 percent of the entire state budget and has shrunk over the last decade,” Dickison said in the release.
Since 2001, the portion of the total state budget spent on all Department of Fish and Wildlife operations and programs has shrunk from 0.68 percent to 0.56 percent of the $642 billion budget for 2011-13.