New fish trap on White River can handle 1 million salmon a year, biggest facility in nation

The Wenatchee World

They were impaled and exhausted, weakened, or left dying in waves: pink salmon by the thousands, defeated by a nearly 80-year-old fish trap and dam on this waterway that also harmed spring chinook, the prize diet of endangered southern resident killer whales.

But no more. At the insistence of tribes and federal fisheries managers, the Army Corps of Engineers will soon complete the biggest facility of its kind in North America, to capture and transport salmon to free flowing stretches of the White River, a tributary of the Puyallup.

Big as an aircraft carrier and made of enough concrete to pave a mile and a quarter of Interstate 5, the White River Fish Passage Facility is expected to be completed in October. The $131 million facility includes a complex of gates, chutes, a fish ladder and even a pair of gleaming stainless steel augers pretty as an art piece, custom-made by J. Nelson Enterprises metalworks in Orting. The augers will lift fish into flumes that carry them to trucks for the 12-mile ride from the fish collection facility at Buckley, where they will be released back to the river above Mud Mountain Dam near Enumclaw, to spawn.

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