Fish Passage Waiver at Bowman Dam? Not so fast.

Bowman Dam

Bowman Dam was completed by the US Bureau of Reclamation (BoR) in 1961, damming the Crooked River and creating Prineville reservoir.  It was built to protect development downstream from flooding, including the City of Prineville, and to provide water for Ochoco Irrigation District (OID) who operates the dam.  While these are worthy goals, Bowman Dam has also caused significant environmental damage.  OID, Prineville, and Crook County would now like to add a small hydroelectric facility to the base of Bowman Dam and are asking for a waiver to the State of Oregon requirement that fish passage be provided at dams undergoing significant changes.  This is a complex issue, below are my thoughts.  The waiver application, supporting documents, and analysis by the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife can be found here.  Public comment on the waiver application is being accepted until June 22nd.Read More »

2019-2020 Steelhead Season Reintroduction Final Count

“We have met the enemy, and he is us”. – Pogo

Adult steelhead start arriving in the Upper Deschutes during the summer and continue through the following April.  (Steelhead are amazing.)  Today, Portland General Electric released their April adult fish count for the Pelton Trap near the bottom of the re-regulating dam.  A total of 57 adult steelhead returned during the 2019-2020 season.  22 of them were released as fry into the upper basin and 35 were released as smolts.  There’s no denying that 10 years in, this is a disappointment.Read More »

Not a Pretty Picture

5.18.20 SNOTEL

Here’s the latest snow pack info for Oregon.  Pretty grim.  Last weekend I did a driving tour of the Cascade Lakes and saw just how low the lakes are for spring. Here’s a photo of the Deschutes arm of Wickiup from two days ago.  It’s not just a river yet, but it will be by the end of the summer.Read More »

Opal Springs Fish Ladder Update

The fish ladder at Opal Springs has proven remarkably successful.  Since it became operational late November through the end of April, thousands of fish from a variety of species have been filmed and identified as moving through it.  Suckers and whitefish have moved up from Lake Billy Chinook for spawning.  Rainbow, brown, and bull trout have traveled upriver most likely foraging for food.  While the primary motivation for installing the fish ladder was to facilitate the reintroduction of salmon and steelhead, the ladder has also provided much needed connectivity between the Crooked, Metolius, and Middle Deschutes rivers.  An improved ecosystem will be the result.  Below is the breakdown by species.Read More »

Conservation Hatchery on the Klamath River?

We’re practicing social distancing at our house, so last weekend I got the garage organized and caught up on some reading.  A couple of weeks ago The Native Fish society sent out an email that neatly encapsulates both my respect and frustration with them.  I agree completely that we should be doing everything possible to support wild fish in our rivers and streams.  There is no scientific doubt that wild fish are superior to hatchery fish and that large scale planting of hatchery fish for harvest into waters that contain wild fish should be stopped.  This is not a purely black and white issue, however, as was stated in research that NFS themselves referred to.  Hatcheries can have a role to play outside of simply stocking ponds and lakes for put and take fishing.Read More »

Upper Basin Steelhead Return Update

Believe it or not, if you look at the individual fish count numbers on the PGE website for past years, summer steelhead season in the upper most stretches of the Deschutes extends to the end of April.  Some of these fish really take their time to get to their final destination.  So, while the return season is not over, we are getting close.  As of March 6th, 53 steelhead have been passed above the dams into Lake Billy Chinook.  47 of those were recently counted via radio tags, 22 in the Crooked River, and 3 in the Crooked arm of Lake Billy Chinook, presumably getting ready to head up the river.  This once again shows the importance of the fish ladder at Opal Springs.