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PUD thanked for supporting Wenatchee River Salmon Festival

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PUD thanked for supporting Wenatchee River Salmon Festival

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July 16, 2012
(Leavenworth, WA) With more than 20 years of participation, Chelan County PUD was honored this week for its support of the Wenatchee River Salmon Festival held at the Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery each fall.

Representatives of the U.S. Forest Service visited the PUD Board meeting Monday and presented an award to Commission President Norm Gutzwiler on behalf of the Pacific Northwest Region Watershed and Aquatics Program. The plaque recognized the PUD for “sustained leadership in developing, implementing, and maintaining the Wenatchee River Salmon Festival” and for “significantly contributing to public awareness of at-risk fish populations in the Pacific NW Region.”

Gutzwiler thanked Jeff Rivera of the Forest Service and then asked him to hand the award to Debbie Gallaher, the PUD’s representative on the Salmon Festival planning committee. “It’s people like Debbie and her staff that do the work,” said Gutzwiler.

The Wenatchee River Salmon Festival is a four-day natural resource education event held each fall to celebrate the return of the salmon to the Wenatchee River. Volunteers from Chelan PUD set up and operate an area at the festival where children and adults make artistic prints using synthetic fish that are painted with bright colors and then pressed onto paper. The Japanese art form is known is gyotaku. As people paint the fish and make their prints, volunteers talk about fish anatomy, the varieties of fish in local rivers and lakes and answer any questions.

PUD volunteers also serve as guest hosts for a large aquarium at the festival that is filled with varieties of fish from the region. The volunteers provide information about the fish and answer questions. The opportunity to talk about fish and natural resources gives PUD staff the chance to explain how collaboration with resource agencies helps lead to efforts such as the PUD’s Habitat Conservation Plans which protect endangered fish and allow continued operation of the PUD’s hydropower resources to provide low-cost power to residents of the region.

Gallaher, Visitor Services manager at the Rocky Reach Visitor Center, leads the PUD participation each year for the Salmon Festival. She told commissioners Monday that staff looks forward to the festival every year and invited them to save the dates of Sept. 20-23 for this year’s event.

In other business:

  • Commissioners heard an update on lake level management at Lake Chelan for the past two weeks. Lake levels were brought down near 1,098 feet elevation after the Fourth of July because an estimated 20 percent of mountain snowpack remained in the hills (roughly equal to 7-8 feet of water level) and weather forecasts were predicting extended hot weather. Gradual refilling brought the lake to 1,099.61 feet on July 12. Thunderstorm activity and heavy localized rain during the weekend lifted the lake level to 1,099.99 at one point, nearly to the 1,100-foot maximum allowed by the federal license. The PUD therefore had to increase spill from the lake to 7,000 cubic feet per second, going above the desired maximum of 6,000 cfs that is designed to minimize erosion problems in the Chelan River Gorge and to protect endangered species fish habitat in the lower stretch of the Chelan River. Spill was decreased Monday and is expected to be reduced further in the coming days as snowpack continues to melt away and inflows into Lake Chelan decrease.
  • Commissioners said thank-you to retiring Managing Director of District Services Wayne Wright for his 33 years of excellent service to the PUD and its customers and presented him a personal gift from Board members. Wright’s last day will be July 31.

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