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Colvilles to open new Chief Joe hatchery with ‘First Salmon Ceremony’

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The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and a host of government agencies will gather at Chief Joseph Dam Thursday to inaugurate a new $50 million fish hatchery.

The hatchery will release as many as 2.9 million chinook salmon, boosting the potential catch for tribal and sport fishing. It will also reintroduce spring chinook, an endangered species, to the Okanogan River, the Portland-based Bonneville Power Administration said in a news release.

Festivities begin at 8 a.m. with a “First Salmon Ceremony” that includes prayers and the capture, filleting and sharing of the first salmon. The event continues through 3 p.m. with story telling, speeches, songs, a luncheon, tours and ribbon cutting.

The hatchery is a collaborative project among the Colvilles, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Bonneville Power Administration and Grant County Public Utility District, with support from the Chelan and Douglas County PUDs, state parks and the Northwest Power and Conservation Council.

For a complete schedule of events, visit http://tinyurl.com/kyd44z4

Reach Christine Pratt at 509-665-1173 or . Follow her on Twitter at @CPrattWW.