It’s Past Time to Remove the Snake River Dams

snake river dam

The four dams on the Snake River are not in Central Oregon, but they have an enormous impact on Columbia River Basin (which incudes the Deschutes Basin) steelhead and salmon.  These iconic populations are currently on the path to extinction.  Recently, two tribes joined the chorus of voices calling for the removal of the dams.  Last week 55 scientists released a letter that did likewise.  Also last week, E&E News published another article detailing how these dams no longer make economic sense – hydro power is no longer cheap when compared to alternatives – and it would actually be cheaper to remove them than continue their operation.  I would love to see the same analysis of the PGE/CTWS dams on the Deschutes River.

The Blob is Back: Update

I have written about the “Blob” in the past (most recently, here and here).  It is the much higher ocean temperatures in the North Pacific which have disrupted food chains and imperiled many historic fish runs.  An argument can be made that ocean heating is currently the most worrisome of all the conditions leading to the drastic declines in salmon and steelhead populations in the Pacific Northwest.  Here is the first part of a three-part article from NOAA discussing the Blob.  Below is a graphic showing the re-emergence of the Blob this year.  It could be worse than the original one, it already has more area of the most extreme warming, and is still forming.

The Blob

More on the Outlook for Salmon & Steelhead in the Columbia Basin

9.20.19 Steelhead CountSource: www.fpc.org

Yesterday, the Bend Bulletin printed a guest column I wrote on the grim outlook for steelhead and salmon in the Columbia Basin (including the Deschutes River). Above is a graphic that illustrates the problem. Here’s a NY Times article on the same topic. Whether some of these fish have 10 years left as I have read in some places, or 20 as reported in the NY Times, it is not a hopeful picture.

 

Lower Deschutes Fish Update

Rod French, ODFW’s Mid-Columbia District Fish Biologist, presented at last week’s Fisheries Workshop.  This annual presentation by ODFW has been largely unchanged for years, which is excellent news.  Trout have been surveyed in the lower Deschutes since the 1970s and there have been no observed negative impacts on them from the operation of the Selective Water Withdrawal tower in Lake Billy Chinook.  If anything, trout are larger and more abundant now, which is to be expected given the more natural temperature profile of the river.  Below are a lot more details, or take a look at Rod’s presentation.Read More »

Fisheries Workshop Highlights

The 25th annual Pelton Round Butte Fisheries Workshop was the past two days.  I have been going for years and, as usual, it was an overwhelming amount of information.  I plan to follow up with some of the presenters to get a better understanding of their data and hope to have more detailed posts soon.  In the meantime, here’s a quick list of the highlights from my perspective.Read More »