A while back, we told you about the re-opening of Oregon’s Deschutes River to migrating fish for the first time in 40 years. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was a partner in the engineering of a unique 273-foot underwater tower and fish collection station at the Round Butte Dam, which allows fish to migrate to and from the Pacific Ocean.
Now that they are able to get past all three dams in central Oregon, the numbers of Chinook salmon, steelhead, and kokanee (landlocked sockeye salmon) taking advantage of the new system is growing.
Nearly 400,000 fish have migrated downstream around the Pelton Round Butte Hydroelectric Project since the beginning of 2010. Even more encouraging, on May 25, 2011, the first returning adult upper basin fish was captured at the fish trap below the Pelton Round Butte project, signaling that a fish marked and released in the Upper Deschutes Basin completed the migratory cycle, journeying to the Pacific Ocean and returning as an adult.
With safe upstream and downstream passage now available, NOAA Fisheries has also begun reintroducing hatchery-reared steelhead to the river to help re-establish a self-sustaining population and contribute to the species’ long-term recovery.