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Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery scrambles to save fish as water warms

Photo by Ian Dunn
Hatchery officials have installed a bladder dam in the upper portion of the dry channel which leads to the hatchery.The rubber dam is water filled, and stretches across the dry channel.

Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery scrambles to save fish as water warms
One thing salmon really don't like is warm water. And despite it's name, Icicle Creek was delivering water too warm for adult and juvenile salmon at the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery.

It was an extraordinary situation requiring extraordinary actions by hatchery personnel to save their fish.

"We had record setting hot temperatures, low snowpack and that resulted in the surface water on Icicle Creek being very low and warm. We rely on surface water coming into the hatchery to help meet our needs with 1.2 million fish here," said Julia Pinnix, Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery information and education manager.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015 More...


City Council approves funds to help Leavenworth Winter Sports Club
Responding to a request from the Leavenworth Winter Sports Club, the Leavenworth City Council has approved sponsoring the club, to help them meet their largest expense, insurance.

At the Aug. 11 study session, City Administrator Joel Walinski said the club is in a difficult financial position after two winters with very little snowfall.

"One of their big expenditures that has be paid prior to the season is the insurance premium. They've asked the city to consider providing funds for that, as a sponsorship of the LWSC. We did talk about this with the Economic Development Committee," Walinski said. "The LWSC asked it be brought forth to the whole council to consider. There might also be consideration by the Finance Committee to look at funding it, if the council so chooses."

Economic Development Committee Chairman, Councilman Tibor Lak, said they looked at the request and recommended the city try and do this. He noted the city already gives money to Stevens Pass, and they pay insurance for Autumn Leaf.

He said the Ski Hill and golf course are the two bookends of this town.

"They aren't tourists draws but they do provide for quality of life. Ski hills are closing and golf courses are closing. For a few thousand dollars, we can keep this. I grew up here and I used it. Generation after generation uses it," Lak said. "Our recommendation, if we can find a way to legally do it, let's do it."

Tuesday, August 25, 2015 More...
Salmon Festival celebrates 25th anniversary
It was 26 years ago that Corky Broaddus was pondering how to put together some kind of nature festival. At the time, she was a Forest Service employee. First order of business was finding a place to do it.

The Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery seemed like a viable option.

"The hatchery was not a very friendly place in those days. I thought it was not a great venue. So I knocked on the door here and met Greg Pratschner (former hatchery complex manager). The rest is history. He wanted gates open and wanted to change the entire image, which he did," Broaddus said. "That was a mandate for him. This is public land for public use, that was huge."

Pratschner, who hired Broaddus away from Forest Service, ended up meeting with the Leavenworth District Ranger, Becky Heath. The planning started in 1990. The first meeting was with the Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce. Then, they met the Forest Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Getting the tribes involved was essential. That was a directive to Broaddus. In the beginning, a lot of unlikely partners were brought together to make the first Salmon Festival.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015 More...
Drought forcing city to shift water use
The drought is affecting each city differently, because each city has a different set of water rights. Depending on those, the Washington State Department of Ecology may place different restrictions. Cashmere is currently under a Level 1 Water Emergency. But that is not the case in Leavenworth yet.

"Our initial concern and contact with the WSDOE was about water off the Wenatchee River. So we've shifted our intake more off the Icicle, to address that issue with WSDOE on Wenatchee River," said Joel Walinski, Leavenworth city administrator.

Since the city wells are located by the Wenatchee River, Walinski said it is considered part of the Wenatchee River watershed. They are controlled by permits for those wells, while they are controlled for their Icicle water by a permit for Icicle Creek.

Earlier this year, Walinski said they did not receive a notification. But in the past, he said they have received notification of water on the Wenatchee River as the main problem with their water rights and water usage.

"What we've begun to do is shift our water intake over the course of the summer to be more based on water from from the Icicle Creek. So we've reduced the well water use and increased the surface water use on the Icicle," he said.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015 More...
City seeks to buy WSDOT property at west end of town
Residents and visitors alike have been parking in the Washington State Department of Transportation dirt parking lot at the west end of town for some time. The city of Leavenworth had previously identified the lot as part of their overall parking plan. The hope was to purchase the space from the WSDOT and upgrade the park to accommodate RVs and the like.

Two weeks ago, Leavenworth city officials met with WSDOT officials about the land at the west end of town. Mayor Cheri Kelley Farivar, at the Aug. 11 study session, said the WSDOT came back and said they would be willing to sell a portion of the property.

"This would be a 1.33 acre parcel. It would be square. They would square up their fencing and come clear to the highway. The cross hatch area was their proposal to us on what they might be willing to sell," Farivar said. "We said, that is wonderful, but it won't work for the parking lot we had originally planned."

It was discussed the potential use for this land would be a parking lot, Farivar said. The hope was this would be a parking lot for oversized vehicles, trucks, motorhomes, etc. The city also wants a sewer dump station.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015 More...
Icicle Ridge fires nearing containment
The 20-acre 4th of July wildfire located on Icicle Ridge is now 70% contained. Located within a mile of the 4th of July fire is the Icicle Ridge Fire, which is now 100 percent contained. Both fires are located within the boundaries of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, Wenatchee River Ranger District and approximately five miles south and west of Leavenworth.

Cooler weather and higher humidity aided the local Wenatchee River Ranger District firefighters in establishing and building containment lines. Although the outlook is much better, Forest Service Trails #1570 & 1579 remain closed to provide for both firefighter and public safety as there is still active fire in the area.

Sunday evening a new fire start was reported. The Lion Creek Fire, visible from Icicle Creek and Eightmile roads, is a "hold-over" lightning strike from last week's storm. This small fire is located in a very rocky area that was burned over in 2012 during the Eightmile Fire. A Wenatchee River Ranger District fire/resource crew is hiking in now to the fire and will spike camp overnight. This fire is estimated at 1/10th of an acre. There are no trail or road closures associated with the Lion Creek fire.


Most of the smoke in the area is drifting smoke from the Chelan fires, but there is smoke emanating from the significant amount of fires burning throughout WA, OR, CA and Idaho. None of the wildfires in the Leavenworth area are impacting the city of Leavenworth and the community continues to hold all its scheduled activities.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015 More...

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