Abernathy FTC was built to mitigate for the impacts of Bonneville Dam on Pacific salmon. Today, Abernathy FTC has three research units: Conservation Genetics, Nutrition & Physiology, and Quantitative Ecology & Technology, that conduct applied studies and provide technical assistance and expertise to internal and external partners and stakeholders. These programs provide technical expertise to assist in conservation, mitigation, Tribal trust responsibilities, restoration, and recovery efforts for fishery resources. This is accomplished through the development and evaluation of new methods, concepts, and systems, as well as the application of existing methods and concepts to emerging issues. All of Abernathy FTC's research involves collaborations with various partners: other FWS offices and resource programs as well as various external partners (other federal agencies, state agencies, Tribal governments, and non-governmental organizations). For more information, download the Abernathy FTC Fact Sheet.
How it all began
Abernathy's history dates back to the 1800s and earlier. Based on records on file at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Cultural Resources Team office, this area was home primarily to Cathlamet-speaking Chinookans. Abernathy Creek joins the Columbia River just downstream from Cooniac, one of the largest Lower Chinookan villages. However, it is believed that Abernathy Fish Technology Center (FTC), located 2.5 miles uphill from the Columbia River in a forested canyon along Abernathy Creek, was likely not occupied by the Cathlamet as their settlement pattern was focused primarily along the Columbia River.
The portion of land where Abernathy FTC is located was patented by Benjamin A. Deetz, a Cowlitz County Surveyor and Kalama School Board member until his death in 1896. Deetz and his wife sold the property in 1892, and it changed hands several times, likely for purposes associated with timber extraction, until it was purchased by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1957. The facility was constructed as a National Fish Hatchery in 1959 under the authorization of the Mitchell Act to mitigate for impacts of Bonneville Dam on Pacific salmon.
The location took advantage of the abundant stream flow of extremely cold water with a natural barrier about one mile upstream of the hatchery. Facilities necessary for the operation of a small hatchery were constructed, including a hatchery building, office, residences, a workshop, vehicle storage, and pump houses.
In 1961, Roger E. Burrows came to Abernathy. A well-known scientist who wrote many classic documents about salmon culture and rearing, Burrows brought his Salmon Cultural Laboratory with him. He studied how to control fish diseases and taught others about rearing salmonids. His nutrition research provided some of the earliest information about salmon diets, netting him a place in the National Fish Culture Hall of Fame. He was integral in the development of the Abernathy Salmon Diet.
Burrows retired from the facility in 1971 after working for the federal government for 37 years.
In 1972, as part of the Abernathy National Fish Hatchery, the Abernathy Salmon Culture Technology Center was established, eventually becoming the Abernathy Fish Technology Center, as the center's focus goes beyond just salmon.