Come August, Chinook salmon are spawning in the Walla Walla River. That wasn’t the case 15 years ago. Salmon disappeared from the Walla Walla basin more than 80 years ago, destroyed by a combination of development, water diversion, and reduced river flows. Since 1987, local Tribes have worked to restore fish habitat and passage, including the removal of two dams. Because of these efforts, spring Chinook returned to the Walla Walla River in 2004 with additional support from the Tribe’s reintroduction program and their Umatilla Hatchery. In 2010, for the first time in nearly a century, the Tribe opened a tribal fishery on the Walla Walla.
We will visit the Umatilla Hatchery Satellite Facility, located on the South Fork of the Walla Walla River, to learn about the fascinating life-cycle of the salmon and witness the hatchery spawning process. This hatchery is operated by the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CITUIR).
After the hatchery tour, we will visit the Kentch restoration project that was completed in 2015. For over 100 years, the Kentch Reach on the South Fork Walla Walla River has been subject to extensive human-disturbance. Subsequently, the river channel was straightened out, isolating the flow from its historic flood plain. The CTUIR is now working to restore the river’s natural hydrologic system.