SPRINGFIELD, Idaho - The Idaho Department of Fish and Game, along with the Bonneville Power Administration, unveiled a new salmon hatchery in Springfield Friday.
Groups have made major advancements toward sockeye preservation, and the new hatchery is just one step in the program. The next level is to maintain current sockeye and natural reproduction. But hatchery efforts have come with heightened criticism.
"It's important to realize that many in the science community were saying 'let the sockeye go,'" said a spokesperson for the Bonneville Power Administration.
Director of Fish and Game Virgil Moore said letting the sockeye float into extinction is not an option. He explained that people have to weigh the odds before letting them out into the wild.
"Preservation of sockeye is going to depend on the ability of these fish to spawn, rear, go to the ocean and then come back on their own," said Moore.
The preservation of the sockeye takes more than Fish and Game efforts. Many groups, including the Governor's Office and the Northwest Power and Conservation Council, as well as a $13.5 million contribution from the BPA, all help hatchery efforts.
The hatchery is also supported by the Shoshone-Bannock tribes. Shoshone-Bannock Fish and Wildlife Director Chad Colter said for him it's more than just saving fish.
"Every part of nature is a part of our culture. It's [preserving sockeye salmon] going to greatly enhance our opportunities to preserve our culture, but also to preserve our treaty rights," he said.