Without warm water, species like Chinook salmon, steelhead, and rainbow trout will not grow as big as usual this winter.
Normally, the Cole Rivers fish hatchery heats its water from October through April. But in April of this year, a cable that connected the hatchery to the Lost Creek dam broke. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tried to fix the mile-long, 50-year-old cable but it was too badly damaged.
Darren Gallion, with the Army Corps of Engineers, says that releasing the fish when they’re smaller could have long-term consequences.
“We’re unsure of exactly what the effects will be,” said Gallion. “We anticipate, potentially lower survival due to smaller size. There could be some predation issues there.”
The hatchery is looking into holding the fish longer to give them more time to grow. The Army Corps is expecting to find a solution to return power to the hatchery by next year, potentially connecting with the utility company Pacific Power.