The Moran Creek Kokanee Hatchery is located across the road from the Cascade Lake Day Use Area in Moran State Park. The viewing window is usually open, so you can stop to take a glance at the bright silver kokanee sockeye salmon fry.
Kokanee were first introduced into Cascade Lake in the 1930s. Hatchery operations in Moran State Park have taken place at the lake intermittently since the 1960s. In 2001 with support from state agencies and FOM, MSP began to focus on a plan for a sustainable hatchery.
Fast forward to 2007. MSP decided to convert the structure next to Moran Creek into the current hatchery. FOM provided a significant amount of funding for the construction and installation of key hatchery components. This project required installing underground pipes to temporarily re-route creek water through the hatchery building for the kokanee. Approximately 72,000 gallons of water run through the hatchery and into Cascade Lake every 24 hours!
In the past, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife stocked Cascade Lake with up to 120,000 kokanee eggs each year—but many did not survive. Now, thanks to the collaborative effort between WDFW and MSP and funding from FOM, the vision of a hatchery came to life. The eggs now can safely hatch and grow into small fry, before being released into the lake.
The Hatchery is accessible for viewing by park visitors, which provides FOM and state parks an opportunity to make our visitors aware of hatchery operations and why the Hatchery and kokanee are important to the park and lake ecology.
In 2009 we witnessed for the first time a kokanee RUN! Nearly 500 kokanee swam up Moran Creek to spawn. In 2014 the kokanee returned by the thousands. It was an impressive result of nature and our hatchery operations. This year, nearly 180,000 eggs were spawned from the Hatchery and the creek, reducing the need for as many WDFW kokanee eggs.
In 2011, after state budget cuts that affected staff at state parks and the WDFW, FOM stepped up with additional funding to sustain hatchery operations. We contracted with Long Live the Kings to provide services through LLTK Hatchery Manager and fish biologist, Mike O’Connell.
This contract represents a significant portion of our annual operating budget. Our board has focused on securing more donations in multiple ways. We have taken on educational outreach to inform the community and visitors as to the importance of fishing in Cascade Lake and the hatchery operations. We have allocated more funds from the Gift Shop and procured small grants. It’s a big project for our small but growing nonprofit. Our efforts and investment are rewarded when we see thousands of kokanee coming up Moran Creek.
Please consider supporting our continued efforts. Donations may be made online, on our home page or by check, payable to FOM PO Box 1961, Eastsound, WA 98245.
Future interpretive panels and continued handouts are planned, so that visitors will better understand the hatchery process and appreciate this unusual landlocked species of salmon.
If you would like to volunteer with Hatchery operations, please email us. We have various needs through the year. A heart felt THANK YOU! The Hatchery would not be as successful if not for our dependable volunteers, dedicated members and the partnership between Friends of Moran State Park, Long Live the Kings and the WDFW.