The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has named the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery Complex in eastern Washington Hatchery of the Year for its innovative achievements in environmental leadership. The hatchery complex was praised by agency leaders for eliminating all hazardous waste streams, removing invasive plants without the use of pesticides and operating an on-site alternative high school that teaches natural resource education.

The selection was made by a committee of representatives from the National Fish Hatchery System, the National Wildlife Refuge System and the Service’s Division of Engineering.

“We are proud and honored to receive this award,” said Julie Collins, project leader of the hatchery complex. “It recognizes our staff’s hard work and commitment to environmental stewardship, which is part of everything we do here.”

Located in Washington’s Icicle Valley, the Leavenworth complex consists of three hatcheries, one each in Entiat, Leavenworth and Winthrop. The Leavenworth Hatchery raises more than 1.6 million juvenile spring Chinook each year for release into Icicle Creek. Entiat and Winthrop produce an additional 1.3 million salmon each year. After their short stay at the hatcheries, the fish begin a 500-mile journey to the Pacific Ocean, which includes navigating as many as nine dams along the Columbia River.

Managing the environment surrounding the hatcheries is crucial to the survival of the salmon, the award selection committee noted. At the Leavenworth complex, this is accomplished through implementation of the complex’s Environmental Management System (EMS). The complex was one of four national fish hatcheries from around the nation selected to participate in the Service’s pilot EMS.

The Leavenworth complex staff instituted a policy of pollution prevention in line with green principles. No pesticides are used on the facilities. Instead, goats and hand-pulling are relied on to eliminate invasive plants. Energy conservation is attained through the use of solar panels and energy-efficient pumps. The complex’s backhoe hydraulics have been converted to use vegetable oil and forklifts are expected to be converted this year. Three production wells and a re-use pump house now use variable-speed motors that run at 93% or better efficiency and use 75% less energy.

The hatchery complex has a large recycling program for antifreeze, cardboard, fluorescent tubes, metal and steel, oil, paper and plastic. The cabinets and countertops in biologists’ work stations are made from recycled materials. Park benches and picnic tables are made of recycled plastic.

The Leavenworth hatchery purchased seven bicycles for employees to ride while working at the 170-acre facility. Three workers ride the bus to work, which reduces the number of vehicles typically used for commuting.

More than 150,000 people visit the hatcheries annually. The complex uses this opportunity to reach out to the community and promote green principles. The Leavenworth Hatchery is home to the Cascade Discovery High School. This accredited high school provides students the opportunity to receive mentoring from hatchery staff, learn the principles of hatchery landscaping and natural resource education and provide support for the recycling program. Solar panels at the Cascadia Discovery High School provide electricity back to Chelan County Public Utility District.

Staff at the hatchery complex conduct community outreach programs year-round. Environmental education is promoted through tours, special events, classroom education, workshops for teachers, Kids in the Creek programs, fishing events, recreation and a public outreach program. The Wenatchee River Salmon Festival provides the biggest opportunity for the staff to speak to the public. More than 10,000 people attend the celebration each year.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.