Sawtooth Fish Hatchery

CLICK on the schematic of the Sawtooth Hatchery to take a virtual tour of the facility:
1. Hatchery Building/Visitor's Center
2. Rearing Raceways (small)
3. Rearing Raceways (large)
4. Cleaning Waste Ponds
5. Wildlife Pond
6. Sedimentary Basins
7. Adult Holding Ponds
8. Dormitory Building
9. Fish Weir & Bridge
10. Visitor Parking

Sawtooth Hatchery is located five miles south of Stanley, Idaho just off state Highway 75 next to the Salmon River. Sawtooth Fish Hatchery weir is approximately 400 river miles from Lower Granite Dam and 900 river miles from the mouth of the Columbia River. Sawtooth Hatchery is operated by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and along with its East Fork facility plays a key role in the future of Idaho's spring chinook salmon and steelhead. The East Fork facility is located 42 miles downriver and 18 miles up the East Fork of the Salmon river. The East Fork facility is used for trapping and holding chinook salmon and steelhead.

Sawtooth Hatchery receives fish culture water from the Salmon river and two production wells. Rearing water from the river enters an intake structure located one-half mile upstream from the hatchery building, and flows through a 54-inch pipe to a control box located in the hatchery building for final screening. This water is then distributed to the outside raceways or adult fish facility. Incubation and early-rearing water is provided by two production wells. Excess well water is spilled into the control box for use in the outside raceways. A third well provides tempering water introduced at the river intake to reduce winter icing problems. The wells provide 3.1 cfs of pumped water and temperatures range from 39 F ( 4 C) in the winter to 52 F (11 C ) in the summer. The Salmon River provides up to 55 cfs of gravity-flow water and ranges in temperature from 32 F ( 0 C ) in the winter to 68 F ( 20 C ) in the summer.

The East Fork trapping site receives water from the East Fork of the Salmon River via gravity-flow piping throughout the holding ponds. A well provides domestic water and pathogen free water for spawning and egg hardening.

Sawtooth Fish Hatchery is one of 11 Lower Snake River Fish and Wildlife Compensation Plan hatcheries, located in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, and was constructed by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1984. Built to withstand severe winters, the facility features water transfer pipes buried at seven feet and concrete footings set well below the frost line.

Sawtooth Hatchery is located five miles south of Stanley, Idaho just off state Highway 75 next to the Salmon River. Click here to look at a road map of the area.

Sawtooth Hatchery is operated by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game and along with its East Fork facility plays a key role in the future of Idaho's spring chinook salmon and steelhead.

At one time, significant runs of sockeye salmon returned to spawn along the shorelines and inlets of the large Stanley Basin lakes. In 1910, Sunbeam Dam was constructed across the Salmon River, just upstream from Yankee Fork. Fish passage was improbable until a fish ladder was completed in 1920. Even then, fish passage was very limited. In 1934, the dam was breached and unimpeded fish passage was restored. Sockeye runs continued at remnant levels but declined steadily. In 1994, trapping on Redfish Lake Creek captured only 1 adult fish.

Because of the low numbers of returning adult fish and the low numbers of offspring produced, Sawtooth Hatchery is using only a small fraction of its production capability. Low numbers of returning adult salmon and steelhead caused them to be listed as threatened under the Endangered Species ActClick word for definition. Emphasis has changed from production of large numbers of fish to conservation of the gene pool. A portion of every season's adult harvest, as well as eggs and milt are sent to the Eagle Fish Health Laboratory. The facility is dedicated to the study, treatment and cure of fish disease, as well as studying fish health and performance in order to optimize the hatchery process.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Games' goal for salmon and steelhead is to restore wild salmon and steelhead populations to harvestable, self-sustaining levels. As part of the Lower Snake River Compensation Plan, Sawtooth Fish Hatchery's mitigation goals are expressed in adult returns of 19,000 adult salmon over Lower Granite Dam. The major IDFG objectives are to:

1. To produce 2.4 million smolts for release, of which up to one million of the East Fork origin smolts will be returned to the East Fork of the Salmon River.
2. Produce quality fish for supplementation programs.
3. Implement research programs at the hatchery to improve returns to the hatchery.

The East Fork facility is located 42 miles downriver and 18 miles up the East Fork of the Salmon river.

The East Fork facility is used for trapping and holding chinook salmon and steelhead. The East Fork has a roof structure over a 28 ft travel trailer that is used as a residence while the fish trap is in operation. the other building is a combination shop, storage and spawning shed ( 22 ft x 44 ft ).

Production capacities at the East Fork trap consists of two 68 ft x 10 ft x 4.5 ft adult holding ponds (3,060 cubic ft ) and a 10 x 17 ft fish trap. No fish are reared at this facility. All fertilized chinook eggs are shipped to Sawtooth Fish Hatchery to be raised. At the same time, adult steelhead trout are trapped at the Sawtooth Hatchery Fish Weir and about 4 million eggs are collected annually. These eggs are transported to the Hagerman and Magic Valley Hatcheries for incubation.

The East Fork trapping site receives water from the East Fork of the Salmon River via gravity-flow piping throughout the holding ponds. A well provides domestic water and pathogen free water for spawning, fertilizing and egg hardening, at which point the "eyed eggs" are counted and sorted, then packed in incubation trays ready for transport to the Sawtooth facility.

Sawtooth Hatchery receives fish culture water from the Salmon river and two production wells. Rearing water from the river enters an intake structure located one-half mile upstream from the hatchery building, and flows through a 54-inch pipe to a control box located in the hatchery building for final screening. This water is then distributed to the outside raceways or adult fish facility. Incubation and early-rearing water is provided by two production wells. Excess well water is spilled into the control box for use in the outside raceways. A third well provides tempering water introduced at the river intake to reduce winter icing problems. The wells provide 3.1 cfs of pumped water and temperatures range from 39 F ( 4 C) in the winter to 52 F (11 C ) in the summer. The Salmon River provides up to 55 cfs of gravity-flow water and ranges in temperature from 32 F ( 0 C ) in the winter to 68 F ( 20 C ) in the summer.

Since 1990, Sawtooth Hatchery has stocked rainbow trout into the waters of the Stanley Basin for improved angling opportunities. Each year approximately 80,000 rainbow trout averaging 10 inches in length are stocked, primarily during the summer months.

Also, Sawtooth Hatchery stocks remote high alpine lakes with cutthroat trout fry and grayling fry. Approximately 40,000 cutthroat and 2,000 grayling are stocked using fixed wing aircraft, by hiking or horse packing.

Sawtooth Fish Hatchery
Idaho Dept. of Fish & Game
HC64, Box 9905
Stanley, ID 83278
(208) 774-3684


Written and compiled by Jacqueline Harvey 1999.
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