Puyallup Tribal Chairman Bill Sterud was among local dignitaries invited to take part in a celebratory groundbreaking on July 18 for the $16.4 million Puyallup Fish Hatchery renovation project. While the old 1949 building will retain its historic look and value, the interior will be renovated to provide more efficiency for raising trout and salmon. Outside, new waterlines will replace the old leaking pipes and new fish rearing raceways will be added. The renovations are scheduled for completion in October 2019.
The Puyallup Tribe has been a key leader with the hatchery for many years, and this latest renovation project represents a major milestone for the hatchery and the Tribe’s efforts at conservation and environmental stewardship.
“The tribe has been great about pushing for continual improvements over the years,” said Tim Burns, assistant director for the capital and asset management program with the State Department of Fish and Wildlife. “This is really a great hub of partnerships with the community.”
In describing the renovations, Burns said, “Right now there are round ponds which are conducive for trout because trout like to swim in circles. We’re going to replace them with ‘raceways,’ – salmon like to sit there and swim against the current – to convert most of the production here to salmon production. We’ll maintain a few round ponds for some trout but it will be primarily converted to a salmon hatchery.”
“This is a solid investment and will make significant improvement to help us meet our conservation objectives and provide for recreational, commercial and tribal fisheries into the future,” said Larry Phillips, Regional Director, Region 6, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. About 200,000 steelhead, 300,000 coho and 800,000 spring Chinook are slated to be reared and cultured at the facility. “This is critical for us in providing harvest opportunity up and down the coast of Washington.”
“I can’t reiterate how important this is to the tribal community. The Puyallup Tribe and Muckleshoot Tribe played significant roles in securing funding for this project.”
After Chaplain Mike Boisture, Puyallup Police Department, gave an opening prayer, remarks were given by local political and civic leaders including Larry Phillips, Regional Director, Region 6, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife; Puyallup Tribal Chairman Bill Sterud; Senator Hans Zeiger, legislative District 25; Representative Melanie Stambaugh, Legislative District 25; Councilwoman Pam Roach, Pierce County Council; Mayor John
Palmer, City of Puyallup; Patty Carter, Founding Director, Puyallup Historical Hatchery Foundation; and Clint Smith, Stantec (Design Firm).
Chairman Sterud called the evening’s groundbreaking gathering “a celebration for life…for thinking of the future.” He said, “This is our future – this is for the kids. They’re going to have salmon to see and catch. It means that people will take care of the environment – the drainage, the rivers, the streams, the ocean. There’s a lot that these fish go through just to get back here to spawn.
“I’m blown away to be standing here before you. This is giant for the Puyallup Indian Tribe and it’s giant for you as well. I want to thank you for supporting the salmon.” He then brought forward three key Puyallup Tribal fisheries staff – Russ Ladley, Steven Dillon and Blake Smith, each of whom have been tirelessly working on behalf of salmon and the environment for decades.
“I believe you’re only as strong as the legacy you leave,” said
Rep. Melanie Stambaugh, who supported the capital project in securing the $16.4 million, “and I believe this hatchery will leave a legacy that I hope you’re all able to enjoy and share in. To see that care from the state, the Puyallup Tribe, from our community members is something I believe can be a model for improving hatcheries across the state. The funding is the small piece; it’s the impact that it’s going to make that we all get to see and witness.”