Leavenworth area fisheries complex earn national honors for environmental policies

LEAVENWORTH -- What do goats, bicycles and vegetable oil have in common?

They're all a part of the reason that three NCW hatcheries have been recognized as the top federal hatcheries in the nation for innovative environmental achievements.

The national award from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recognizes the three hatcheries -- all run as part of the Leavenworth National Hatchery Complex -- for green policies that prevent pollution, save energy, and educate the public.

They range from using goats to control weeds, and converting engines to use non-polluting vegetable oil to buying bicycles for employees to travel across the 170-acre complex at work.

The Leavenworth complex, which raises 2.9 million salmon each year, is one of 60 national fish hatcheries in the country.

The honor came as a surprise, said Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery manager Al Jensen.

"We're trying to find ways to recycle more and use less," Jensen said. "We want to have as little a carbon footprint as we possibly can."

Hatchery spokeswoman Corky Broaddus said the changes have been part of the hatchery's attempt to look ahead at climate change and the increasing costs of fuel.

"We were doing it in bits and pieces, and then we decided, 'Hey, we can do more.' So we set up our own employee Green Team," she said.

The team includes employees who brainstorm about both large and small ways to make the hatchery more environmentally friendly. Then they bring their ideas to management.

"Like in our break room. We don't use throw-away paper cups.

"We're getting back to the good ol' days" when people reused their own coffee cups at work, Broaddus said.

She said its new sustainable mind set sometimes goes beyond work.

"It has awakened several of our own crews to go home and do these same things," she said, adding, "It's contagious. You can't help but feel good about it."