Idaho Power and Whooshh Innovations were each recognized Nov. 17 with the National Hydropower Association's 2021 Outstanding Stewards of America's Waters award, both in the category of recreational, environmental or historical enhancement.

Idaho Power was recognized for its new white sturgeon conservation hatchery, the first of its kind in Idaho. Located south of Wendell, Idaho, the Niagara Springs Sturgeon Hatchery is raising sturgeon from fertilized eggs collected from known spawning areas in the Snake River.

Jim Chandler, environmental manager at Idaho Power, explained in an NHA video that white sturgeon have been unsuccessful reproducing in some sections of the Snake River. In response, biologists are now collecting already fertilized eggs from known spawning areas and bringing them to the new hatchery to be reared by Idaho Department of Fish and Game staff for about 11 months. Chandler said there seems to be a bottleneck in natural reproduction during this critical life stage.

"The sturgeon conservation hatchery is the culmination of 30 years of research into sturgeon reproduction and overall population health in the Snake River," he said in a news release from the company. By gathering fertilized eggs, the repatriation method attempts to closely mimic the natural cycle of sturgeon and ensure a wide range of male and female pairs are represented in order to preserve the genetic diversity of the wild population.

The hatchery began production earlier this year to raise and release up to 2,500 juvenile sturgeon into the Snake River along a 330-mile stretch between Shoshone Falls and Brownlee Dam each year.

Whooshh Innovations, a Seattle-based company that developed a new salmon passage system, was recognized for its work with the Canadian government to move salmon through a remote site on the Fraser River blocked by a rock slide (CU No. 2016 [8])}.

Whooshh CEO Vince Bryan III said in the NHA video that the company deployed two of its PassagePortal systems on the Fraser River in less than three months in 2020, despite extremely difficult terrain where there are no roads, power or internet service.

Prior to the deployment at Big Bar, near Lillooet, British Columbia, the Canadian government trapped and hauled salmon to the upper watershed by truck or helicopter. He said the PassagePortal system transported 17 times as many fish compared to these methods.

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K.C. Mehaffey covers fish issues for Clearing Up, and is editor of the NW Fishletter. She joined the NewsData writing team in February 2018. From lawsuits to scientific studies, she is enjoying the deep dive into the Columbia Basin's many fish topics.