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Salmon savers

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Articles - November/December 2013
Monday, October 28, 2013

Fish Passage
A Big Dam Difference

1113 Salmon 03
Bonneville Dam has made improvements to help adult and young fish pass up and down the river.
// Photo by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

There aren’t a lot of people who are going to say that the four dams along the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington have done much for healthy salmon populations. Many may also question whether all the money that has been spent helping fish get past the dams in the past couple decades has been all that effective.

Yet at least some of the efforts in recent years by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and others connected to the dams appear to be helping. “We have played a big part in that,” says Diana Fredlund, a spokesperson for the Corps, about this year’s larger-than-average Chinook returns.

In addition to improvements made over the years to fish ladders for adult salmon and steelhead coming upstream, the Corps in recent years has been focusing on helping juveniles traveling downstream find their way past the dams. At The Dalles Dam, a new wall guides juveniles coming over the spillway toward deeper areas of the river and away from shallower spots and lurking predators. And a collector originally meant for ice and log debris at Bonneville Dam proved so effective at juvenile fish passage that it became one of the primary bypasses for young salmon in 2004.

In August the Corps was also part of an $800,000 project to remove a small dam on the Sandy River, a tributary of the Columbia, which was expected to improve salmon spawning habitat.



+2 #1 Great new issue!Guest 2013-10-30 23:40:47
Great new issue focused on salmon!

I’m surprised, however, that little mention was made of the impact on those who enjoy recreational salmon fishing.

After all, larger runs means more fun for tens of thousands of Oregonians each year, and a lot more revenue for small towns on the Oregon coast, along the Columbia River, etc.

I certainly didn’t mind spending money this past Saturday. In return? I have a great day of memories, including the 15 minutes it took to reel in the largest salmon I've ever caught.

Will I spend even more time and money salmon fishing again next summer? You bet!
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0 #2 writerGuest 2013-10-31 17:17:31
Thanks much for the comment, and glad to hear about your catch! We did touch on the aspects you're talking about in the "Slowly Rising" section about the economic benefits to tribes and small towns out along the Columbia, and also in the "Ranching and Restoring Together" section. And we'll of course be keeping an eye on future returns and the impacts they have on Oregon's angling towns and businesses. Jon Bell
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0 #3 RE: Salmon saversGuest 2013-11-02 19:10:05
This piece also points out the need to maintain a viable commercial salmon fishery so that people who don't sport fish also have access to fresh local salmon of the highest quality such as Lofgren wants to serve, thus maintaining a constituency for salmon recovery above and beyond sport anglers, which I am one of. Gill netting can be made less damaging to T&E stocks while still allowing some commercial harvest.
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