Four nursery lakes in the Yakima River Basin, which historically produced an estimated annual return of at least 200,000 sockeye, were removed from production in the early 1900s when irrigation storage dams were constructed without passage. The Yakama Nation is working with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and other Yakima Subbasin partners to restore fish passage to all of these historical lakes with initial emphasis on Cle Elum and Bumping lakes. A preliminary juvenile passage flume was constructed and tested at Cle Elum Dam in 2006 and 2007. Based on the success of this and other prior work, the Yakama Nation negotiated an agreement with the U.S. v Oregon parties to transplant adult sockeye from Priest Rapids Dam to Lake Cle Elum contingent on run size.
The Yakama Nation would like this project, combined with other efforts to restore the Subbasin's habitats and ecosystems, to eventually lead to self-sustaining, harvestable returns of sockeye to the Yakima Basin.
One thousand adult sockeye were transplanted in the summer of 2009, 2,500 in 2010, 4,500 in 2011, 10,000 in 2012 and 4,000 in 2013. The sockeye successfully spawned in tributaries above the Lake in all years becoming the first sockeye to spawn in the Yakima Basin in over 100 years. Juveniles from the 2009 brood were observed migrating downstream at Roza and Prosser Dams in 2011. Preliminary data from trapping operations at Prosser indicated a 2011 smolt outmigration of approximately 80,000 sockeye. From July - Oct. 2013, 701 Sockeye migrated to the Yakima River Basin (numbers reported at October 17,.2013).
So far, 211 sockeye have migrated back home to the Yakima River Basin (updated July 1, 2014).
Once these fish move north to Roza Dam they will be transported into Lake Cle Elum or Cle Elum River.
So far, we have trapped and hauled 4, 500 sockeye from Priest Rapids to Lake Cle Elum. We will continue to monitor fish run numbers and trap and haul accordingly (updated July 1, 2014).