Update: We wanted to clear up a few things regarding the funding for the new viewing area: the groups asking for donations are the Corps Foundation, which is the Official Non-profit of America’s Lakes and Waterways, and Discover Your Northwest, which is a local non-profit that manages the donations. Those two groups are responsible for raising their own funds to renovate the viewing area of the fish ladder. The US Army Corps of Engineers is a federal agency and will not be doing the renovations — as a rule, they cannot accept money for this type of work.
Most funding that the Corps of Engineers receives from the federal government for the Locks is for operations and maintenance — improving the viewing area of the fish ladder does not currently fall under necessary upgrades from an operational standpoint.
Original: The fish ladder at the Ballard Locks will close soon in order for a big renovation of the viewing area. The Corps Foundation and Discover Your Northwest*, the local non-profit supporting the Locks, are asking the public to help contribute towards the renovation, and they’re constructing a “legacy wall” to honor donors.
The fish ladder viewing area hasn’t had any major improvements since 1976, so you could say it’s due for an update. Additionally, there’s a “hodgepodge of outdated, ineffective, and inaccurate displays”, the Lock’s website reads. Plus, it’s dark, dreary, and the windows are usually pretty dingy.
The ladder’s viewing area will be completely renovated with the money raised. They plan to add auditorium seating and a 15-foot-wide video display, which Rich Deline from the Army Corps Foundation says will be great for two reasons. First, it will have information about the annual salmon run and different types of salmon, which, “if there are no fish you can learn something instead of looking at an empty dirty window,” Deline says. Second, it will help tour guides switch over to presentation-mode during fish ladder tours.
“This is a unique opportunity for you to ‘Leave a Legacy’ in support of the Ballard Locks,” the Corps Foundation writes on their website. The plan is to create a public art installation on the wall alongside the salmon ladder which will include donors’ names. Donors will also have a chance to tell their stories about why they donated, which will be accessed via a touch-screen display in the viewing room.
The donations are a bit spendy; the first tier is $1000 and is the “Sockeye”, which will be made from stainless steel at 18-inch by 4-inch with a 30-character inscription. The second tier is the “Coho”, at $5000 and 24-inch by 5-inch with a 34-character inscription. The top tier is $10,000: the “Chinook”, a treated stainless steel 24-inch by 5-inch cut-out and also with a 34-character inscription. Deline tells My Ballard that they already had donations in all three categories before publicizing the fundraiser.
The fish ladder viewing area will be closed for a few months while they renovate — Deline expects it to shut in December and reopen by early spring. The estimated project cost for the renovation is $1 million. For more on the Ballard Locks and US Army Corps, click here.
*An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the US Army Corps Foundation is requesting donations