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Cushman Fisheries Program


Fish sorting facilities at Cushman No. 2 Dam

What's new?

Cushman Fisheries Update Meeting - Nov. 16, 2017

The Cushman Hydroelectric Project provides clean, renewable electricity with two dams and three powerhouses on the North Fork Skokomish River in Mason County, Wash. As part of its federal license to operate the dams, Tacoma Power recently expanded its fisheries programs and facilities.

Tacoma Power’s goal is to be a responsible steward of the environment by reintroducing and restoring fish populations on the North Fork Skokomish River. These fish have been missing from the basin since Tacoma Power constructed its dams in the ‘20s and ‘30s. Working in conjunction with the Skokomish Indian Tribe, natural resource agencies and other stakeholders, Tacoma Power has built award-winning hatcheries, adult and juvenile collection facilities, and developed enhanced fish and habitat monitoring and evaluation programs.

The utility has received four Outstanding Stewards of America’s Waters Awards in a row from the National Hydropower Association for Cushman fisheries projects:
 
  • North Fork Skokomish Powerhouse and Fish Facility (2014) – Operational Excellence
  • Little Falls Fish Passage Improvement (2015) – Recreational, Environmental & Historical Enhancement
  • Floating Surface Collector (2016) – Recreational, Environmental & Historical Enhancement
  • Cushman Hydroelectric Project Hatcheries (2017) – Recreational, Environmental & Historical Enhancement

Floating juvenile fish collector

Floating juvenile fish collector

To help migrating juvenile fish around the dams, Tacoma Power built a floating fish collection facility for Lake Cushman.

The large device is attached to Cushman No. 1 Dam. It includes nets that guide smolts toward the collector while preventing them from getting into the turbines. Once collected, they get a 3-mile-long truck ride to Cushman No. 2 Dam and released into the river below.


Saltwater Park Sockeye Hatchery

Hatcheries 

Tacoma Power's two Cushman hatcheries have been recognized for their incorporation of pioneering fish management approaches, such as circular tanks for rearing fish, an exceptional incubation system, an ultramodern chiller system for thermally marking fish and cutting-edge computer monitoring and alarm systems.

The Saltwater Park Sockeye Hatchery, on Hood Canal, is dedicated specifically to sockeye rearing.
 
Tacoma Power released more than 200,000 sockeye fry into Lake Cushman in 2017. After they grow into smolts, they are collected via the floating juvenile fish collector and released into the lower North Fork Skokomish River. Returning adult sockeye will eventually be collected at the base of Cushman Dam No. 2. More than 500,000 sockeye are on station at the hatchery in 2018. 

The North Fork Skokomish Salmon Hatchery, located next to Lake Kokanee, is dedicated to rearing spring Chinook, winter-run steelhead and coho. Tacoma Power is incubating more than 500,000 of the three species combined in early 2018.
 

Cushman No. 2 Dam and North Fork Powerhouse

North Fork Powerhouse and Fish Passage Facility 

Tacoma Power built a new powerhouse and innovative fish collection and transportation system at Cushman No. 2 Dam. The unique facility uses water discharged from turbines to attract migrating adult fish into a collector. 

This new source of hydroelectric power serves 1,700 Northwest homes and captures energy from previously untapped water flows. 
 

The new fish collection and transportation facility:

  • Supports the establishment of endangered salmon and steelhead populations upstream of the project
  • Re-opens fish passage
  • Collects migrating adult fish at the base of the dam and transports them to the top of the dam
  • Provides space and equipment for sorting migrating juvenile fish and transports them to the base of the dam for release
Once in the collector, fish are moved into a transport hopper and lifted to the top of the dam on a tram. The new fish handling system is used to separate, count and mark (as necessary) fish. We transport the fish to destinations upstream of the two Cushman dams.
 
For more information, email cushmanfeedback@cityoftacoma.org