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$16.4 million tribal project brings jobs to the peninsula

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The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal fish hatchery project is currently under construction and is more than 50 percent complete. The hatchery consists of nine local sub-contractors providing much needed jobs to the local economy.

“At the peak of employment there will be up to 50 employees working on hatchery construction,” said LaTrisha Suggs, assistant director of River Restoration at the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe. In addition to the hatchery construction, support roads and water facilities are also being constructed.

“The hatchery is expected to provide a refuge to salmon populations during the actual dam removal period and to help supplement the natural production of coho salmon, steelhead, chum salmon and pink salmon following dam removal,” said Larry Ward, Lower Elwha Klallam Hatchery Manager. “Production of fish at the hatchery is expected to increase following the removal of the dams and then scale back as natural production begins to increase.”

Tribal Chairwoman Frances G. Charles explained, “After many generations of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe lobbying in D.C., dam removal is a reality. We are grateful to the elders of our past for all they have done leading up to removal.”

Bringing the fish back to the Elwha River is a top priority for the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe. The Lower Elwha Tribe is partnering with the National Park Service, Department of Interior and utilizing American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars to construct a $16.4 million fish hatchery located on the Lower Elwha Klallam Reservation just past the Elwha River Casino. Startup is set for March 2011.

The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe resides in the Lower Elwha River Valley and adjacent bluffs on the north coast of the Olympic Peninsula just west of Port Angeles, Wash. The original land base was acquired by the United States in trust for the tribe in 1935-36 and these lands were proclaimed as the Lower Elwha Reservation in 1968. Today, tribal lands include about 1,000 acres of land on and near the Elwha River.