Tumwater Falls Chinook Facility Renovation Breaks Ground

In South Puget Sound, the first phase of an effort to give 3.8 million chinook salmon a better start at life recently broke ground.

A $9 million Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) renovation, funded by the legislature in 2017, is the first phase in a Deschutes Watershed Center project designed to protect one of the top three salmon populations that benefit orca.

The Tumwater facility upgrades include new adult holding/juvenile rearing ponds, a pollution abatement pond, a new surface water intake, modifications to the existing fish ladder, and a fish viewing area for the public.

Kelly Susewind, director of WDFW, will lead a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, March 28 at the Olympia Tumwater Foundation-owned Tumwater Falls Park.

“This is a 1960’s-era facility. Upgrades here and in other facilities and hatcheries across the state are badly needed, so we’re grateful for the local and legislative support,” said Susewind.

Once the second phase of this project has been completed, the juvenile salmon that are currently raised here will no longer be trucked between various WDFW facilities. Keeping the young salmon at a single site until large enough to be released means that more will survive into adulthood in the ocean and Puget Sound. It will also free up space in other WDFW hatcheries for more fish production.

As the state agency tasked with preserving, protecting and perpetuating fish, wildlife, ecosystems, and fishing opportunities, the Departments seeks to bring more of its facilities up to today’s modern standards.

The agency has requested about $113 million for fish-rearing infrastructure needs across the state, plus almost $30 million in funding for the second phase of the Deschutes Watershed Center.

WDFW is planning to finish construction by the time salmon begin their annual return this fall.

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The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources.

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