Friends of the Cowlitz was formed in 1988 by a group of concerned individuals who had watched the runs of salmon and steelhead become smaller and smaller each year after the hydroelectric dams were constructed by the City of Tacoma.
At the time Friends of the Cowlitz was formed, it was decided that the main goal of the organization would be to work to restore the runs of anadromous fish (salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout) to the Cowlitz River and it’s tributaries. To accomplish this they would work to make Tacoma live up to it’s obligations that had been agreed to the in 1967 mitigation agreement between Tacoma and the Washington Departments of Fisheries and Game.
The goal of the restoration effort would be to see that an opportunity to harvest these returning fish by sport fishermen was available each and every year (for all species). As part of our over all goal, FOC also decided to work to restore anadromous fish to the watershed above the dams. This effort is ongoing at this time, with coho, spring chinook, steelhead and cutthroat trout all being released into the watershed above the dams. This has been possible because of FOC being able to work successfully with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Lewis County PUD and BPA.
We have worked hard to have a juvenile collection facility installed at Cowlitz Falls Dam where the juvenile salmon and steelhead are captured and then transported downstream by tank truck to the Cowlitz Salmon Hatchery. At the Salmon Hatchery they are placed in stress relief ponds for a couple of days and then released into the Cowlitz River to continue their journey to the ocean.
Among our other goals that have evolved over the years has been our fish rearing projects. Our fish rearing started with a net pen in an old gravel pit below Interstate Highway 5 that was known locally as Wallace’s Pit. This endeavor was so successful with summer-run steelhead that some of the guides actually left the area around the Trout Hatchery to concentrate their efforts in the area out in front of our rearing facility. This portion of the river was and is known as the Vader Pump House drift.