Cushman Fisheries Program

Along with supplying you with clean, renewable electricity with our Cushman Hydro Project, Tacoma Power operates a robust fisheries program in the area. These efforts help us meet the requirements of our federal license to operate the dams, and allow us to reintroduce and restore fish populations on the North Fork of the Skokomish River. Some fish species had been missing from the area since the Cushman dams were built in the 1920s and 1930s.

In partnership with the Skokomish Indian Tribe, natural resource agencies and other stakeholders, we have built hatcheries and adult and juvenile collection facilities, and developed enhanced fish and habitat monitoring and evaluation programs. In recognition of our work, we have received four Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters Awards from the National Hydropower Association:

  • North Fork Skokomish Powerhouse and Fish Facility – Operational Excellence (2014)
  • Little Falls Fish Passage Improvement – Recreational, Environmental & Historical Enhancement (2015)
  • Floating Surface Collector – Recreational, Environmental & Historical Enhancement (2016)
  • Cushman Hydroelectric Project Hatcheries – Recreational, Environmental & Historical Enhancement (2017)

Floating Juvenile Fish Collector

To help migrating juvenile fish get safely around our dams, we built a floating fish collection facility for Lake Cushman. The large device is attached to Cushman No. 1 Dam and includes nets that guide smolts toward the floating collector to prevent them from getting into the turbines. Once collected, we transport them 3 miles by truck and release them into the river.

Cushman Hatcheries

Our two innovative hatcheries feature state-of-the-art technology.

  • The Saltwater Park Sockeye Hatchery, on Hood Canal, is dedicated specifically to rearing sockeye salmon. After they grow into smolts, they are collected with the floating juvenile fish collector and released into the lower North Fork of the Skokomish River. Returning adult sockeye will eventually be collected at the base of Cushman Dam No. 2. As of February 2019, we have about 615,000 sockeye at the hatchery. The hatchery features circular tanks for rearing fish, a modern incubation system, an advanced chiller system for thermally marking fish and cutting-edge computer monitoring and alarm systems.
  • The North Fork Skokomish Salmon Hatchery, located next to Lake Kokanee, is dedicated to rearing spring Chinook, winter-run steelhead and coho. As of early 2019, we were incubating more than 500,000 of the three species combined.
North Fork Powerhouse and Fish Passage Facility

The North Fork Powerhouse serves 1,700 homes and captures energy from previously untapped water flows. It also includes an innovative fish collection and transportation system that uses water discharged from turbines to attract migrating adult fish into a collector.

The collected fish are then moved into a transport hopper and lifted to the top of the dam where they are separated, counted and marked (if necessary). We then transport the fish to destinations upstream of the two Cushman dams.

The fish collection and transportation facility helps to:

  • Support the establishment of endangered salmon and steelhead populations upstream of the project.
  • Re-open safe fish passage.
  • Collect migrating adult fish at the base of the dam and transport them to the top of the dam.
  • Provide space and equipment for sorting migrating juvenile fish and transporting them to the base of the dam for release.

For more information about our Cushman fisheries program, contact us at cushmanfeedback@cityoftacoma.org.

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