New Theater Building Proposed at Hatchery

A full house enjoys a Leavenworth Summer Theater performance of Fiddler on the Roof at the Hatchery Stage

Leavenworth, Wash.—After 26 years of service, the outdoor theater at Leavenworth National Fish Hatchery is showing its age. Leavenworth Summer Theater (LST), primary user of the stage, requested permission to rebuild it. But the hatchery thought a better option is to rebuild at a different site, still on hatchery grounds. This proposal is out for public comment right now.

The first stage was built in 1991 by hatchery staff for the Wenatchee River Salmon Festival. Today’s structure followed in 1993, with upgrades several years later funded by LST. Through a Special Use Permit, LST has continued to provide engaging musical theater productions every summer since then. “We value the opportunity to welcome visitors to our site,” said Julia Pinnix, Visitor Services Manager for Leavenworth Fisheries Complex. “Sitting outside with the birds, frogs, and incredible views of the surrounding mountains while watching live theater is a special experience.”

There are some problems with the current site that reach beyond the condition of the building. Water leaches into the basement of the theater every summer from the adjacent drainfield. Hatchery housing is a stone’s throw away on the hill above, and there are other close neighbors, all of whom are impacted by amplified sound. The main entrance to the hatchery has to be blocked on performance evenings. Entry and parking for theater guests is from East Leavenworth Road, using an area that is occupied when the US Forest Service needs a base of operations during major fires, bumping parking for LST into the hatchery production area.

All of these issues vanish by moving the theater building to a spot farther south. Hatchery staff identified an area currently used only for piling gravel as a likely location. Parking is available in the same area used for winter cross-country skiing. Access to the site is via existing trails. Icicle Outfitters offers guided horseback rides on the same trails, but those end before the theater evening begins. The site is further away from any residences and surrounded by a protective natural berm and native trees.

Nearly 8,000 visitors and LST staff use the theater each year.  To build a new structure on federal land, the National Environmental Policy Act spells out a procedure that allows for public comment and consultation. This includes researching and compiling an Environmental Assessment (EA). The EA is available to view at the hatchery. Comments on the proposal should be sent to Julia Pinnix either by email ( or U.S mail: 12790 Fish Hatchery Road, Leavenworth, WA, 98826. Contact Julia by email with questions.

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