This organization is dedicated to returning fish passage over Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River, and the huge Chinook Salmon known as "June Hogs" that used to spawn above the dam.
With the completion of Grand Coulee Dam in 1939, towns were destroyed, and Native people whose lives revolved around the fish and river for 1000's of years, were drastically changed. Thousands of miles of spawning and rearing streams of the upper Columbia watershed were blocked off from anadromous fish. The giants of these fish were a race of Chinook Salmon called the "June Hogs", because of their enormous size (some over 100 lbs.), and the timing of their return up the river. Some say the larger fish were due to the better conditions at the time.
It's painful to think of this magnificent race of fish dying out as they tried in vain to get past the new dam. There was a valiant effort to truck the fish past the dam, but that did not work out. Plans for fish passage were included in the original plans for the dam, but when the plans for the height of the dam were raised, it was decided that hatchery production would be the best replacement. There was only a 6 month study allocated to study the fish passage problem before the dam was completed, where it was concluded that fish passage wasn't feasible at the time. With our advanced techniques and awareness now, it would be feasible. There is presently a working 1.9 mile long fish ladder on the Clackamas River in Oregon.
The very long reservoir and it's currents behind the dam would be problematic for migration of the fish. With what we know now about engineering currents and draw downs behind other Columbia River dams, we would be much more prepared to put in fish passage facilities, like a fish ladder, at Grand Coulee Dam. There would have to be cooperation in Canada to open areas further up stream, and passage added downstream at Chief Joseph Dam also. It would be a major project, but compared to the actual construction of a dam, it wouldn't be so daunting.
Fish could be re-seeded into the area, or nature could be allowed to take its course and re-populate. As a simplistic example, eggs from an existing large race of Chinook Salmon could be crossed with fish from the existing Upriver Columbia Run to seed the area. The thousands of miles of spawning area that would be re-opened would be a great opportunity to restore millions of wild fish to the system, boosting fishing and the economy. It would be a chance to put back a large part of something we took away back when we didn't know as much.
Chinook Salmon were successfully re-introduced into the Umatilla River in Oregon after going extinct. This could be an even grander addition to that success, and could be a major piece of the puzzle to help restore the great numbers of salmon that were historically in the Columbia River System.
HOGC is dedicated to raising the funds, through private donations, to make this possible.