U.S. Dept Commerce/NOAA/NMFS/NWFSC/Publications

NOAA-NWFSC Tech Memo-27: Status Review of West Coast Steelhead
Artificial Propagation

The remainder of this section is intended to provide a summary of the nature and scope of artificial propagation activities for west coast steelhead.

Artificial propagation of O. mykiss began in the 1870s in the San Francisco Bay area (Behnke 1992). These fish were presumably rainbow trout. From 1877 to 1888, egg taking stations were established on the lower McCloud River (upper Sacramento River Basin) for propagation of redband trout and coastal steelhead, with no apparent effort to separate the two forms (Behnke 1992). From that time, O. mykiss has been widely propagated, and stocks have been transported literally around the globe. Behnke (1992, p. 174) stated that "the overwhelming majority of brood stocks of rainbow trout maintained around the world originated mainly from various mixtures of coastal steelhead." Therefore, in evaluating artificial propagation of steelhead, it is also important to consider the propagation of rainbow trout.

The popularity of O. mykiss as a cultured species makes it infeasible to discuss each propagation facility on the west coast in this document. Behnke (1992, p. 174) noted that, "in California alone, 169 hatcheries and egg-taking stations drew on diverse populations of rainbow trout from 1870 to 1960." A list of major steelhead propagation facilities currently in operation is provided in Appendix C. Annual hatchery production of steelhead on the west coast of North America increased from about 3 million juvenile steelhead in 1960 to over 30 million in 1985 (Light 1989). The majority of hatchery produced steelhead are from the Pacific Northwest states of Idaho, Washington, and Oregon (Table 8, Appendix D), predominately in the Columbia River Basin (Light 1989).

Below we summarize some of the major artificial propagation programs for west coast steelhead.

Grand Coulee Fish Maintenance Project

In 1939, the construction of Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River (RKm 956) blocked over 1,800 km of river from access by anadromous fish (Mullan et al. 1992). In an effort to preserve fish runs affected by Grand Coulee Dam, all anadromous fish migrating upstream were trapped at Rock Island Dam (RKm 729) from 1939 through 1943 and either released to spawn in tributaries between Rock Island and Grand Coulee Dams or spawned in hatcheries and the offspring released in that area (Peven 1990, Mullan et al. 1992, Chapman et al. 1994). Through this process, stocks of all anadromous salmonids, including steelhead, which historically were native to several separate subbasins above Rock Island Dam, were randomly redistributed among tributaries in the Rock Island-Grand Coulee reach. Exactly how this has affected stock composition of steelhead is unknown.


Table 8. Steelhead smolt production by hatcheries, listed from north to south (Light 1989*).



Location (number of hatcheries)
Average annual smolt
production, 1978-87
Percent of
coastwide total
Alaska (4)62,000 0.2
British Columbia (22)616,000 2.5
Washington (44)6,782,000 27.6
Idaho (4)*10,320,000 41.9
Oregon (26)4,537,000 18.4
California (9)2,304,000 9.4
Total (109)24,621,000 100.0
Revised below to include new data (IDFG 1995)*
Alaska (4)62,000 0.3
British Columbia (22)616,000 3.1
Washington (44)6,782,000 34.5
Idaho (4)*5,372,000 27.3
Oregon (26)4,537,000 23.1
California (9)2,304,000 11.7
Total (109)19,673,000 100.0

*Data from IDFG (1995) are inconsistent with those in Light (1989); we were unable to resolve this inconsistency. As Light's (1989) data have been presented in previous documents (Busby et al. 1993, 1994), IDFG's (1995) modified data are presented in the bottom half of the current table, including adjusted percentage of total production. Revised numbers are italicized.


Widespread Steelhead Broodstocks

Several steelhead broodstocks have been widely used in steelhead propagation. These broodstocks have had the greatest potential to affect native steelhead populations due to their broad distribution and extensive incorporation into various steelhead propagation programs throughout the west coast.

Chambers Creek winter steelhead--This stock of winter steelhead comes from Chambers Creek, Tacoma, Washington and was first cultured in the 1920s (Crawford 1979). Chambers Creek steelhead have been introduced throughout western Washington, including the Puget Sound region, and in tributaries of the lower Columbia River. As much as 90% of steelhead harvested from some western Washington streams can be attributed to Chambers Creek winter steelhead, through artificial and established natural production (Crawford 1979, WDF et al. 1993). Concerns over genetic introgression into native stocks by Chambers Creek steelhead led to attempts to establish native brood stocks in Washington (Crawford 1979); however, the Chambers Creek steelhead stock is still considered essential to most of Washington winter steelhead hatchery operations (Huew et al. 1990, WDF et al. 1993).

Skamania summer steelhead--Skamania summer steelhead were developed from Washougal and Klickitat River summer steelhead in the late 1950s at the Skamania Hatchery, Washington (Crawford 1979). This stock has been widely used in Washington, Idaho, Oregon, California, Indiana, Rhode Island, and North Carolina (Crawford 1979, CDFG 1994). In many cases, Skamania stock have been introduced where summer steelhead did not naturally exist, to provide recreational angling opportunities, for example, the Willamette River. Additionally, Skamania stock have been introduced in river basins having endemic summer steelhead populations, such as the Stillaguamish and Columbia River tributaries.

Alsea River winter steelhead--This stock is originally from the Alsea River, Oregon and has been cultured since the 1930s (ODFW 1986). Historically introduced into most coastal Oregon streams since the 1980s, Alsea stock have primarily been used on the central Oregon coast (Salmon River south to Coquille River) and occasionally in the lower Columbia River Basin (ODFW 1986, CBFWA 1990).

Big Creek and Cowlitz River winter steelhead--These two stocks dominate the production of hatchery winter steelhead in the lower Columbia River Basin--the Big Creek stock on the Oregon side, and the Cowlitz stock on the Washington side (CBFWA 1990). The Big Creek stock was developed in the 1960s from the earliest maturing steelhead native to Big Creek (Howell et al. 1985). The initial source for the Cowlitz Hatchery stock was a 1:1 mix of Chambers Creek and native Cowlitz River fish (Crawford 1979). The Big Creek and Cowlitz Hatcheries produce about 700,000 and 650,000 smolts per year, respectively, which are released into most major river basins tributary to the Columbia River below Bonneville Dam (Howell et al. 1985). Cowlitz stock steelhead eggs have been used in hatchery programs of other states, including California (Howell et al. 1985, CDFG 1994). Big Creek winter steelhead have established naturally reproducing populations in the upper Willamette River Basin (Howell et al. 1985).

Eel River winter steelhead--Eggs collected from Eel River winter steelhead were used in establishing several CDFG steelhead hatchery programs, for example. Mad River and Nimbus Hatcheries, until steelhead returns to these hatcheries supplied sufficient eggs for the hatcheries' production goals without such supplementation (CDFG 1994,1995; Will). Eel River winter steelhead eggs are collected at an egg-taking station located at Cape Horn Dam, northeast of Ukiah, California. This facility, originally named Snow Mountain Station, was established by Snow Mountain Light and Power Company in 1907; since the 1960s the egg taking station has been operated by the California Department of Fish and Game under the name Van Arsdale Fisheries Station (footnote 15) . Incorporation of Eel River steelhead into hatchery programs generally occurred prior to 1975; most eggs collected since then have been reared off-site, usually at Mad River Hatchery, then returned to the Eel River (CDFG 1994, Will footnote 14).

Wells Hatchery summer steelhead--Summer steelhead from the Wells Hatchery are the primary stock used in the Columbia River Basin above Rock Island Dam (Chapman et al. 1994). The stock was developed in the early 1960s from naturally spawning populations intercepted at fish passage facilities above Priest Rapids Dam (see page 72, Grand Coulee Fish Maintenance Project). Since 1970, the Wells stock has been distributed in the Columbia River Basin from the Big White Salmon River upstream to the Grand Ronde River in the Snake River Basin, and the Similkameen River, a tributary of the Okanogan River (Howell et al. 1985). About 1 million Wells summer steelhead are released annually (Howell et al. 1985).

Lyons Ferry summer steelhead--Lyons Ferry Hatchery was constructed in the early 1980s to provide summer steelhead for streams in southeast Washington, including both the Snake and Walla Walla River Basins (Delarm and Smith 1990d). The Lyons Ferry stock was derived from eggs obtained from ODFW s Wallowa Hatchery on the Grande Ronde River, augmented with occasional transfers of Wells Hatchery stock (Delarm and Smith 1990d). About 1 million fish per year are produced at the Lyons Ferry Hatchery (Delarm and Smith 1990d).

Dworshak summer steelhead--This stock was developed from native B-run North Fork Clearwater River summer steelhead in 1969 (Howell et al. 1985). As many as 3 million fish are released from Dworshak NFH every year, mostly into the Clearwater River Basin, although limited introductions have occurred in the Salmon and Snake Rivers as well (Howell et al. 1985).

Summary of Artificial Propagation by ESU

In general, hatchery stocks of steelhead have been widely introduced throughout the west coast of the United States, so that today there are few native steelhead stocks that have not had some influence from hatchery operations (Crawford 1979, Howell et al 1985, Light 1989, Cramer et al 1995, ODFW 1994a-c). In this section, we present a brief overview of the artificial propagation activities within the geographic ranges of the 15 west coast steelhead ESUs.

1) Puget Sound--Artificial propagation of steelhead in the range of the Puget Sound ESU is pronounced (Fig. 10). About 1,500,000 winter steelhead and 400,000 summer steelhead, mostly smolts, are released annually into river basins in this area (WDF et al. 1993, WDFW 1994a). Hatchery programs in the Puget Sound region largely rely on Chambers Creek winter steelhead and Skamania-stock summer steelhead (Crawford 1979, Huew et al. 1990). The abundance of hatchery winter steelhead in Puget Sound results in a target harvest rate of 90% (WDF et al. 1993). Most Skamania-stock summer steelhead are introduced into streams not previously utilized by summer steelhead, although this stock is also routinely planted in streams containing indigenous Puget Sound summer steelhead, such as the Skagit, Stillaguamish, and Snohomish River systems (Crawford 1979). The Nisqually River is the only major river in Puget Sound not receiving hatchery winter steelhead (WDF et al. 1993); however, this river is planted with about 24,000 Skamania-stock summer steelhead per year (WDFW 1994a).

2) Olympic Peninsula--The hatchery effort for steelhead on the Olympic Peninsula is pronounced, but not to the extent found in Puget Sound, especially for summer steelhead (Fig. 10). About 40,000 summer steelhead, primarily Skamania stock, are released annually on the Olympic Peninsula, all in the Quillayute River Basin (Crawford 1979, WDF et al. 1993). However, these fish are known to stray into many nearby river systems when returning to fresh water as adults (WDF et al. 1993). About 840,000 winter steelhead, primarily from a stock designated as "Bogachiel/Chambers Creek," are planted annually in this area (WDF et al. 1993, WDFW 1994a).

Recently, wild steelhead have been incorporated into the hatchery stocks being planted into a few streams in this area. However, based on the early spawn timing necessary for compatibility with hatchery spawning protocols (WDF et al. 1993), most of these wild fish would likely have a significant hatchery ancestry themselves. Hatchery fish derived from native winter steelhead populations are released into the Quinault River and other streams occupied by this ESU. However, because of the influence of nonindigenous stocks that are also planted in the Quinault River Basin, the naturally spawning winter steelhead are thought to be of mixed origin (WDF et al. 1993).

3) Southwest Washington--Southwest Washington winter steelhead hatchery stocks were originally derived from the Chambers Creek stock (Puget Sound origin) (Fig. 11), but recent hatchery efforts in southwest Washington streams have emphasized using stocks of local origin (WDF et al. 1993). Dominant winter steelhead hatchery stocks used in Columbia River tributaries occupied by this ESU are Beaver Creek Hatchery (Elochoman River/Chambers Creek origin) in Washington, and Gnat and Big Creek steelhead stocks in Oregon (Howell et al. 1985, ODFW 1993, WDF et al. 1993). Hatchery programs for summer steelhead in this region use the Skamania stock, and the majority of all summer steelhead returning to rivers in this ESU are Skamania hatchery fish (WDF et al. 1993).

4) Lower Columbia River--More than 2 million winter steelhead and over 1 million summer steelhead smolts are released each year within the basins occupied by the Lower Columbia River ESU (Fig. 11). The primary winter steelhead stocks used in hatchery programs in the Lower Columbia River are from Eagle Creek and Gnat Creek Hatcheries in Oregon, and Beaver Creek (Elochoman River/Chambers Creek origin) and the Cowlitz River in Washington (Howell et al. 1985). Chambers Creek winter steelhead from Puget Sound are also an important component of Lower Columbia River hatchery management (Howell et al. 1985). In some cases, the influence of hatchery steelhead is pronounced: Cowlitz River wild winter steelhead are almost all the progeny of feral Cowlitz Hatchery steelhead (WDF et al. 1993). Skamania-stock summer steelhead are used extensively in both Washington and Oregon tributaries of the Lower Columbia River (Howell et al. 1985, ODFW 1994c, WDF et al. 1993).

5) Upper Willamette River--Over 175,000 winter steelhead are released annually into the region occupied by this ESU (Howell et al. 1985, ODFW 1994c) (Fig. 12). Most of these are from hatchery stocks derived from native winter steelhead from the Santiam River system. However, substantial numbers of Gnat Creek (i.e., Big Creek-stock) winter steelhead from the lower Columbia River are also introduced into the area every year (Howell et al. 1985, ODFW 1994c). The latter transplants have succeeded in establishing naturally reproducing populations of Big Creek-stock steelhead in the Upper Willamette River Basin (Howell et al. 1985). Summer steelhead are not native to the upper Willamette River, but Skamania-stock summer steelhead are planted in this area (Howell et al. 1985, ODFW 1994c). Natural production of summer steelhead appears to be low (2.5% of total run in 1981), and the population is largely maintained by releases of hatchery fish (Howell et al. 1985).

6) Oregon Coast--Over 1,300,000 winter steelhead and more than 350,000 summer steelhead are targeted for release in 1995 into Oregon coastal streams north of Cape Blanco (ODFW 1994b). As is the case in several other steelhead ESUs, few Oregon coastal hatchery stocks are native to the rivers receiving them (ODFW 1994a,c) (Fig. 12). However, releases of specific hatchery steelhead stocks along the Oregon coast generally occur only within certain geographic areas. For example, the Nehalem River hatchery stock is not planted in streams south of the Nehalem River; Cedar Creek hatchery steelhead are released from the Miami River south to the Little Nestucca River; Alsea Hatchery steelhead are released from the Salmon River south to the Smith River (Umpqua River Basin); the Umpqua River is planted only with its own stocks; and Coos/Coquille stock are used in rivers south of Coos Bay to Cape Blanco (ODFW 1994b). Nonetheless, the overall impact of hatchery steelhead on the Oregon coast is significant. For instance, of 19 Oregon coastal rivers examined for hatchery influence, all but 2, the Coquille and North Umpqua Rivers, receive hatchery fish that are genetically dissimilar to wild fish (ODFW 1994a). Furthermore, it is estimated that 54% of the total number of winter steelhead spawning in these rivers are of hatchery origin (ODFW 1994a). All summer steelhead in this ESU, apart from those in the Siletz and Umpqua River Basins, are introduced from the Siletz River. Within the Siletz River, about 90% of the naturally spawning summer steelhead are of hatchery origin (ODFW 1994a). North Umpqua River summer steelhead is the only stock of hatchery steelhead on the Oregon Coast considered by ODFW to be genetically similar to the native steelhead from the area in which it is released. This hatchery stock is derived from the native North Umpqua fish, and little attempt has been made to alter the stock's life history characteristics (e.g., migration and spawn timing) (ODFW 1994a).

7) Klamath Mountains Province--Total production of hatchery steelhead in the rivers occupied by this ESU is about 1,500,000 fish per year, of which about 320,000 are winter steelhead and the remainder are summer or fall steelhead (Busby et al. 1994) (Fig. 13). Steelhead released into the Chetco and Rogue River Basins are derived primarily from local stocks; however, prior to 1970 Alsea Hatchery steelhead were released into the Chetco River (ODFW 1986). Although hatchery production in the Klamath River Basin relies primarily on broodstock returns to the hatcheries, the Iron Gate or Trinity Hatcheries in the Klamath River system received transfers of stock from the Cowlitz and Washougal Hatcheries, as well as transfers from the Sacramento, Willamette, Mad, and Eel River Basins prior to 1973 (Busby et al. 1994). In general, the rivers in this area are planted with hatchery fish derived primarily from native stocks (e.g., Chetco, Rogue, and Klamath Rivers), or apparently are not stocked at all (e.g., Pistol, Winchuck, and Illinois Rivers) (ODFW 1994c).

8) Northern California--The primary steelhead hatchery within the range of this ESU is Mad River Hatchery, established in 1971 by CDFG for fisheries enhancement (McEwan and Jackson 1996). The Mad River Hatchery winter steelhead stock was founded with steelhead eggs from the Eel River (Van Arsdale Fisheries Station, see page 74) and the San Lorenzo River (Cramer et al. 1995; Will footnote 14). Returns of steelhead to Mad River Hatchery were sufficient to supply the hatchery's production needs by 1974 (Cramer et al. 1995). Van Arsdale Fisheries Station continues to transfer Eel River steelhead eggs to Mad River Hatchery for rearing and subsequent release into the Eel River (CDFG 1994). The migration and spawn timings of hatchery stocks in northern California have been truncated since hatchery operations began (Cramer et al. 1995). In addition, both Mad River Hatchery and Van Arsdale Fisheries Station release unsmolted steelhead (CDFG 1994), which have been shown to survive poorly to spawning age (Cramer et al. 1995).

Introduced Skamania-stock summer steelhead appear to be reproducing naturally in the Mad River (Cramer et al. 1995). An average of 96,000 juvenile steelhead of Van Arsdale Fisheries Station and Mad River Hatchery stock origins have been released annually into the Eel River Basin since 1970 (CDFG 1994). Approximately 233,000 juvenile steelhead of various stock origins are released annually into Mad River (CDFG 1994). All other basins in this area together receive about 75,000 steelhead per year (Cramer et al. 1995), for a total annual hatchery release of at least 404,000 steelhead within the range of the Northern California ESU (Fig. 13).

9) Central California Coast--Warm Springs Hatchery on the Russian River is currently the only major steelhead facility within the region occupied by this ESU; however, release records show that a substantial number of steelhead from Mad River Hatchery are released in this area (CDFG 1994) (Fig. 14). In the early part of the century, steelhead from the Scott Creek Hatchery, themselves a mix of various steelhead stocks from Oregon and Washington, were widely introduced throughout the smaller river basins in this area (Bryant 1994). Although few out-of-basin stocks have been transferred into Warm Springs Hatchery, Mad River Hatchery and Eel River steelhead have been introduced directly into the Russian River as recently as 1991, and many river and creek basins in this area periodically receive Mad River Hatchery steelhead (CDFG 1994). Since 1971, the Russian River has received about 140,000 fish per year of various stocks (CDFG 1994, Cramer et al. 1995). Release records for hatchery steelhead in other basins occupied by the Central California Coast ESU are incomplete and are not reported here.

10) South-Central California Coast--Artificial propagation efforts for steelhead have not been extensive in this region (Fig. 14). For example, since 1971, about 16,000 Mad River Hatchery winter steelhead have been planted into the Carmel River and San Luis Obispo Creek (CDFG 1994).

11) Southern California--Compared to many other areas, the hatchery effort in southern California has not been extensive (Fig. 14). Between 1910 and 1940, sporadic introductions of steelhead into various streams within rivers occupied by this ESU were made with small lots of more northerly stocks, primarily from Scott Creek, Central California ESU (Bryant 1994). No records were found pertaining to hatchery activity in this region between 1940 and 1970. Since the early 1970s, steelhead from state hatcheries have been periodically released in this area, but not on a large scale. For example, about 50,000 Mad River Hatchery steelhead have been planted in southern California streams in the last 20 years, mainly in the Ventura River and Arroyo Seco Creek (CDFG 1994).

12) Central Valley--There appear to be no steelhead-bearing rivers in the Sacramento River Basin that have not received releases of multiple hatchery stocks (CDFG 1994, Cramer et al. 1995) (Fig. 15). Major steelhead production facilities within the Central Valley of California include: Coleman NFH, Feather River Hatchery, Mokelumne River Fish Installation, and Nimbus Hatchery. Each of these facilities has utilized steelhead stocks originating from within the basin as well as out-of-basin stocks; stock transfers between the Central Valley steelhead facilities have historically been commonplace (CDFG 1994).

Nimbus Hatchery, located on the American River (tributary to the Sacramento River), was founded with Eel River winter steelhead from Van Arsdale Fisheries Station and returning American River steelhead; Mad and Russian River stocks, as well as Sacramento River stocks, have been mixed into the Nimbus Hatchery population over time (CDFG 1994, Cramer et al. 1995). To mitigate the loss of steelhead in the Mokelumne River (San Joaquin River Basin) following completion of Comanche Dam in 1963, Nimbus stock, as well as fish from Coleman NFH and Feather River Hatchery, have been introduced to the Mokelumne River (CDFG 1994, Cramer et al. 1995, McEwan and Jackson 1996). Further mixing of steelhead stocks in the Sacramento River Basin may result from straying by hatchery stocks within the basin, which has been observed to be as high as 24-35% in some cases (Hallock 1989, Cramer et al. 1995). Since 1983, about 2,800,000 juvenile steelhead have been released annually into the Sacramento River Basin (CDFG 1994, Cramer et al. 1995, McEwan and Jackson 1996).

Attempts to establish a summer steelhead fishery in the Central Valley began in the late 1960s and continued intermittently into the 1980s using Skamania-stock (see page 74) summer steelhead (CDFG 1994). Despite successful returns of summer steelhead to Nimbus Hatchery, this program appears to have been discontinued; the last record of Skamania-stock releases from Nimbus hatchery occurred in fiscal year 1980-81 (CDFG 1994). Recent CDFG documents and communications (e.g., CDFG 1995, McEwan and Jackson 1996) on steelhead do not mention summer steelhead in the Central Valley.

13) Middle Columbia River--Over 2 million hatchery summer steelhead are released into the rivers occupied by this ESU every year (Howell et al. 1985, CBFWA 1990, Delarm and Smith 1990c,d) (Fig. 16). Hatchery steelhead in the Deschutes River are derived from native stock, as is the current hatchery stock used in the Umatilla River, although both systems received small plants of out-of-basin stocks many years ago (Howell et al. 1985). However, strays from several Columbia River Basin hatcheries are common in the Umatilla and Deschutes Rivers, where they can amount to 20% of the steelhead handled at Warm Springs Hatchery (Howell et al. 1985). Various stocks have been, or are being, introduced into other rivers in this region, with the Yakima River alone receiving Skamania, Wallowa, Wells, and Lyons Ferry steelhead stocks from other ESUs (Howell et al. 1985, ODFW 1994c, WDFW 1994a). The John Day River in this ESU is not planted with steelhead (Howell et al. 1985). In the Yakima River Basin, Satus Creek is reserved as a genetic refuge for native steelhead and is not planted (Howell et al. 1985).

14) Upper Columbia River--Over 1,500,000 summer steelhead are released into this ESU annually (Howell et al. 1985, CBFWA 1990, Delarm and Smith 1990d, Chapman et al. 1994, WDFW 1994a) (Fig. 16). Beginning in the early 1940s, the wild stocks of steelhead in this ESU were thoroughly mixed as a result of the Grand Coulee Fish Maintenance Project, enacted to salvage fish runs blocked by the construction of Grand Coulee Dam (Fish and Hanavan 1948, Mullan et al. 1992). All steelhead, including those destined for Canadian streams, were collected at Rock Island Dam and distributed to streams in this region. In addition, some of the mixture of returning adults were used to establish the hatchery stocks used in this region (Fish and Hanavan 1948, Mullan et al. 1992). As a result, the stocks in this ESU have essentially been homogenized since that time. The progeny of hatchery broodstock collected at a few locations in the upper Columbia River continue to be released throughout the region (Chapman et al. 1994).

15) Snake River Basin--Artificial propagation of steelhead within the rivers occupied by the Snake River Basin ESU produces annual releases in excess of 10 million smolts (Howell et al. 1985, CBFWA 1990, Delarm and Smith 1990a-d, ODFW 1994c, WDFW 1994a) (Fig. 17). Hatcheries in this area are operated by the states of Washington, Idaho, and Oregon, as well as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Most of the stocks used in these hatcheries are from within the ESU; however, there has been substantial mixing of these stocks among facilities. Several propagation facilities are operated to mitigate two series of dams on the Snake River.

The Lower Snake River Compensation Plan (LSRCP) was developed to mitigate fishery losses due to four dams on the lower Snake River (Ice Harbor, Lower Monumental, Little Goose, and Lower Granite Dams). The LSRCP steelhead facilities include Dworshak and Hagerman NFHs, and Clearwater, Sawtooth, and Magic Valley Hatcheries. The Hells Canyon Complex forms the second series of dams (Hells Canyon, Oxbow, and Brownlee Dams); these block anadromous fish passage to the upper Snake River Basin. Steelhead mitigation facilities for the Hells Canyon Complex include Oxbow, Pahsimeroi, and Niagara Springs Steelhead Hatcheries. One goal of the Hells Canyon Complex mitigation was to relocate part of the upper Snake River steelhead run to the Salmon River. To accomplish this, steelhead broodstock are collected at Hells Canyon Dam, spawned at Oxbow Hatchery, and the fertilized eggs are transferred to rearing facilities, such as Niagara Springs Steelhead Hatchery (Hutchison 1993). These steelhead are subsequently released as smolts at various locations within the Salmon River Basin, primarily near Sawtooth and Pahsimeroi Hatcheries (Hutchison 1993, Kiefer). These activities resulted in the development of the "Pahsimeroi stock," which was originally composed of indigenous Salmon River Basin steelhead combined with upper Snake River steelhead. This Pahsimeroi stock was also used to start the steelhead program at Sawtooth Hatchery. In recent years, wild steelhead have been passed above Pahsimeroi and Sawtooth Hatcheries, and only hatchery-origin fish have been used for broodstock.

Within the Snake River Basin, Dworshak NFH and Clearwater Hatchery appear to be the only facilities that have not incorporated out-of-basin steelhead into their broodstock.


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