The crowd sits among tanks as they listen to speakers at an open house of the Melvin R. Sampson Coho Facility on Friday, Nov. 22, 2019, in Ellensburg, Wash. ELLENSBURG — The future home of up to 700,000 coho salmon per year provided a perfect setting to honor a former Yakama Nation chairman who dedicated his life to the tribe’s fisheries.
Well over 200 visitors entered the Melvin R. Sampson Coho Facility northwest of Ellensburg on Friday morning, following the 81-year-old man who peeled off a white covering and cardboard to reveal the glass door bearing his name. Although some delays mean the hatchery won’t be ready for fish until at least April, many elements were completed and in full view as operating manager D.J. Brownlee and many others spoke to the assembled crowd.
Brownlee has been working at the facility since the groundbreaking last August and moved with his family into their camp trailer on-site three and a half months ago. They’ll eventually live in new on-site housing, along with the families of tribal members Talbert Looking Elk and Tony Ambrose, both of whom will work full time under Brownlee.
Project superintendent Karl Wagner of Boise, Idaho-based McMillen Jacobs Associates expects most of the mechanical and electrical work inside the main building to be completed by the end of January. The crew is also ready to finish the adult coho holding ponds and move forward on a shop building, along with the residences.
Water from the nearby Yakima River and nine shallow […]