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ODFW evacuates more than 1 million salmon away from Eagle Creek Fire

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife evacuated more than 1.65 million salmon from the Cascade Hatchery on Friday and Saturday. The threat of mudslides in the Eagle Creek Fire area cause officials to evacuate the hatchery. Photo courtesy ODFW

CASCADE LOCKS, Ore. – The last of about 1.65 million Coho Salmon and 132,000 spring Chinook salmon was evacuated from Cascade Hatchery in the Columbia River Gorge Saturday.

The debris in the air from the Eagle Creek Fire threatened the fish and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife was forced to remove them from the area.

“Rain is forecast next week in areas scorched by the Eagle Creek Fire, and we expect to see mudslides and debris flow,” said Brett Requa, ODFW east region hatchery coordinator. “This could overwhelm the screens on our water intake, reducing or completely shutting off the flow of water that sustain these fish, so we want to get them moved now.”

ODFW planned to move about 1 million Coho salmon to the Leaburg Hatchery in Lane County.

The fish will grow up there until next spring when they will be released into the Umatilla and Lostine Rivers.

Additionally, 350,000 Coho salmon were taken to Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery and 300,000 were taken to Willard National Fish Hatchery.

The 132,000 spring Chinook will be placed in the Sandy Fish Hatchery, ODFW said.

Official said the fish are less than a year old. They’re being transported on trucks with oxygen supplies to help lower the fishes’ stress levels and keep them healthy.

They said the Bonneville Hatchery in the Gorge shouldn’t be hit as hard by the debris flow. They will not need to move the 2.4 million fish being raised there.

ODFW staff are also considering moving fish in the Oxbow Hatchery and Herman Creek Hatchery to another hatchery in the state.

“We thank Eagle Creek firefighters for saving all the structures at our three Cascade Locks fish hatcheries,” said Requa. “ODFW will be working to limit any harmful impacts to fish due to the Eagle Creek Fire over the next few months and years.”

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