Mel Sampson Coho Facility

Project abstract: 

Background: During the pre-treaty era, 44,000 to 150,000 coho returned to the Yakima Subbasin annually. By the mid-1980s they were extinct. Habitat loss and overharvest are factors that led to the extinction. The fish’s cultural significance combined with U.S. v. Oregon objectives to restore salmon to upriver areas resulted in the release of hatchery fish (raised outside the subbasin) beginning in the mid-1980s. 

From 1996 through 2003, the Yakama Nation researched the feasibility of establishing a self-sustaining coho population that would not substantially affect other species of concern. With that phase of the project successfully concluded, project objectives since 2004 have been to increase coho spawning in tributaries, phase out out-of-basin broodstock, and test the effectiveness of new acclimation techniques. With the Mid-Columbia Coho Master Plan approved in 2013, the project received the go-ahead to implement the next phase of reintroduction efforts, to be supported by a new hatchery.

Melvin R. Sampson Coho Facility: In 2018, construction began on our new hatchery named in honor of  Mel Sampson, a respected elder and former Yakama Nation Tribal Council Chairman.

Facility Specifications:

  • A state-of-the-art, highly efficient facility
  • 30,000 ft2 hatchery building
  • 18 early rearing tanks plus 10 grow-out tanks
  • 10 circular rearing ponds, which assist in strengthening fish and conserving water
  • 9 groundwater wells
  • Effluent treatment, designed to reuse 75% of facility water
Project goals: 

Reestablish naturally spawning coho populations to historically occupied tributaries of the Upper Yakima Subbasin that support sustainable harvest and are consistent with tribal and regional ecosystem restoration objectives.

Project plan: 

An integrated population, broodstock will consist of approximately 600 adults collected locally at Roza Dam. Approximately 700,000 smolts/parr will be produced per year for release in upriver tributaries. The long-term target is for returns to average 20,000 locally adapted adults per year.

Project progress: 
  • Construction complete May/June 2020
  • First smolt release in April 2021
  • First adult return in 2024

Project Photos:

  • Groundbreaking August 2018. (L-R): Daniel Brownlee (hatchery manager), Mel Sampson, and Davis Washines (YN)
  • Mel Sampson coho hatchery, January 2020
  • Coho (Todd Newsome, YN, 2019)
  • MRS Coho Hatchery aerial map (prior to construction completion).
  • Groundbreaking August 2018. (L-R): Daniel Brownlee (hatchery manager), Mel Sampson, and Davis Washines (YN)

Status: Active

09/26/2012 - Present
Lead Project: 
Targeted Populations: 
Location Area (Basin, Sub-Basin): 
In partnership with: 
Ecological Concerns: 

Project Manager