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NWHA- Panel Discussion “Spawning Better Ideas for Fish Passage”

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Presentation on theme: "NWHA- Panel Discussion “Spawning Better Ideas for Fish Passage”"— Presentation transcript:

1 Willamette Project Biological Opinions: Improvements for fish in a dynamic environment
NWHA- Panel Discussion “Spawning Better Ideas for Fish Passage” February 23, 2011 Mindy Simmons Program Manager, Willamette Biological Opinion Implementation

2 Multiple Authorized Purposes
Flood damage reduction Hydropower Navigation Irrigation Fish & wildlife Recreation Water quality Municipal & industrial water supply The dams and reservoirs support the wide variety of project purposes authorized by Congress. They were located and designed, and are primarily operated for flood control. Other authorized purposes include hydropower production, recreation, fish and wildlife, water quality, and storage of water for municipal and industrial water supply and irrigation. Some of those purposes benefit from having the water in storage in the reservoirs...while others benefit from the timed release of water to meet downstream needs. I want to stress that this is not a prioritized list--beyond the hard constraints of flood control, we do our best to try to balance all the purposes. In authorizing the projects, Congress gave the Corps relatively little guidance in terms of specific operating criteria Over the past 50 years…the Corps has continually refined operation of the reservoir system in response to changing needs and lessons learned.

3 Willamette Project 13 multi-purpose dams
Detroit Big Cliff Green Peter Foster Willamette Project 13 multi-purpose dams Dexter Cougar Blue River Explain different types of dams- concrete monolith, earthen fill, and re-regulating The Willamette Basin project consists of 13 reservoirs; eleven are multiple purpose storage reservoirs and 2 are re-regulating reservoirs. The reservoirs are located in the subbasin of six major tributaries of the Willamette—the North and South Santiam Rivers, the McKenzie River, the Middle and Coast Forks, and the Long Tom River. None are located on the Willamette mainstem. The first of the reservoirs, Fern Ridge, was completed in The last, Blue River, was completed in HD 531 actually authorized construction of a system of 17 dams. Funds were never appropriated for four of those which have subsequently been deauthorized. In addition to the reservoirs, HD 531 also authorized a authorized navigation channel extending from Portland Harbor to Eugene at River Mile The authorized channel was to be maintained through a combination of channel maintenance activities and flow augmentation from the reservoirs. Commercial navigation is nearly non-existent on the Willamette River above Willamette Falls locks and we’ve done no channel maintenance since The authorized channel segment from Corvallis to Eugene has been deauthorized. We do, however, continue to augment flows during the dry months with releases from reservoir storage. Finally, we’ve constructed approximately 100 miles of bank improvements along the mainstem Willamette and major tributaries. Bank improvement projects were authorized either under the specific reservoir project authorities or the Willamette Bank Protection Program. We continue to have authority and responsibility to maintain approximately 50 miles of those bank improvements. Fall Creek Lookout Point Hills Creek

4 ESA- listed anadromous fish in the Willamette Basin
National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) jurisdiction Upper Willamette River winter steelhead Upper Willamette River Spring Chinook salmon Our operations have impacted many fish listed under the ESA. Upper Willamette Spring Chinook Salmon and Winter Steelhead are “anadromous” fish. These fish spawn in freshwater but migrate to the ocean for part of their life cycle. They are under the jurisdiction of the National Marine Fisheries Service, or “NMFS”. Adults spawn in tributaries of Willamette River Juveniles migrate to ocean for part of their life Return to same stream where they were born

5 ESA- Listed resident fish in the Willamette Basin
Oregon chub U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) jurisdiction Bull trout The US Fish and Wildlife Service has jurisdiction over the resident fish, Oregon chub and bull trout. These fish spend their entire life in freshwater streams in the Willamette Basin. I won’t be discussing the USFWS BiOp in this presentation. Resident fish spend their entire lifecycle in fresh water

6 Major populations of ESA-listed species
affected by the Willamette Project Project Effects: Dams blocked access to upstream spawning habitat Dam operation affects rearing and migration habitat downstream of dams ==> Willamette Project dams affect many life stages of fish Chinook North Santiam Steelhead Chinook South Santiam Steelhead Chinook More similar to Hungry Horse and Libby than John Day or McNary McKenzie Oregon Chub: all basins have populations, many on Corps property Bull trout Chinook Middle Fork Bull trout

7 Willamette Project Biological Opinions
No FERC licensing required for federal dams (no Sec 18) Two Biological Opinions (NMFS and USFWS) issued in 2008 include: Operation of 13 dams and reservoirs (and downstream effects) Hatchery Mitigation Program 42 miles of Bank Protection Projects 90 Reasonable and Prudent Alternatives (RPAs) in NMFS BiOp, T&Cs from USFWS 15-year timeframe; opportunity for great survival increases Action agencies: USACE, Bonneville Power Administration, BOR Regional Collaboration through Willamette Action Team for Ecosystem Restoration (WATER)

8 Willamette BiOp Actions: A life cycle approach
Types of Willamette BiOp Actions Evaluate Feasibility of Downstream Fish Passage Facilities Cougar- 2014 Lookout Point- 2023 Detroit (or 2018) Historical spawning habitat Upstream fish passage for adults via “trap-and-haul” Minto- 2012 Foster- 2013 Dexter- 2014 Fall Creek- 2015 Thus, the the BiOp takes a life cycle approach to addressing fish recovery in the Willamette. It begins by constructing the upstream fish facilities for adults while we work on research and designs needed to build effective downstream fish passage facilities for juveniles. These facilities may involve a collection facility either at the dam, floating in the reservoir, or even at the head of the reservoir. These are not “cookie cutter” fish facilities and are requiring ingenuity and creativity on the parts of our engineers and biologists. In the meantime, NMFS and USFWS have asked us to address some of the problems our dams cause on habitat downstream of the dams, as this is where the fish are forced to live until we have established successful fish passage. Downstream Habitat Improvements Flow management Temperature Hatchery improvements Habitat Restoration Projects Configurations and Operational Planning Study Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation Adaptive Management

9 Fish Passage Improvements: upstream passage
DEXTER DAM (Re-regulating dam located downstream of Lookout Point Dam) Hatchery/Adult Collection Facility to take fish to hatchery Adult Collection Adult Sorting; load on to truck for transport As part of this program, adult hatchery fish are collected at the base of the lowermost dam, and transported to a hatchery to be artificially spawned. Facilities were constructed for this purpose when the dams were built. The hatchery program, including these crude facilities, has adverse effects on ESA-listed fish, which I will not discuss in detail. However, the infrastructure associated with the hatchery program will now serve as a key component of recovery, as serve as collection points for adult fish migrating upstream. Instead of taking the fish to a hatchery, we can release them into historical spawning habitat upstream of the dams where they can spawn naturally. Thus, the first major actions in the Willamette BiOp involve upgrading these antiquated and harmful facilities to safely transport ESA-listed adult fish as “trap and haul” Concept: Upgrade hatchery fish facilities to use as “trap-and-haul” fish passage for adult fish Use hatchery spring Chinook to evaluate potential for reintroduction in upstream habitat

10 Upgrade Minto Hatchery Fish Facility: Adult Trap-and-Haul
BIG CLIFF DAM The Corps has nearly completed plans and specs for the first of these facilities, the Minto Fish Facility, which will be constructed by 2012. NORTH SANTIAM

11 Issue: Downstream fish passage is challenging
Long reservoirs Predators?? Multiple passage routes Deep intakes (very little surface spill) High mortality Very little information on fish movement in reservoirs Spill gates (rarely used) Regulating Outlets (“spill”) The next step, assuming the adult fish spawn and produce juvenile fish, is to get these fish safely downstream. However, the fish face many obstacles. The reservoirs are very long, up to 11 miles long, with slow-moving water and lots of predators. There are multiple passage routes for fish when they get to the dam, but we generally pass water through the regulating outlets and the power turbines, which are located on the bottom of the reservoir. However, juvenile fish tend to swim downstream along the surface of the river or reservoir, so these deep outlets can be difficult for them to find. Surface spill gates are rarely used, and as Bryan discussed last week, are not designed to be used regularly. Many have structural issues. Power Turbines Lookout Point Dam

12 Willamette Downstream Passage: Design Requirements Report
For 18 downstream passage projects, summarized: Relevance Design criteria Target species Geometry Operation Performance Design studies Design & construction schedule Cost

13 Willamette BiOp Challenges
Balance between RM&E and moving forward with designs- how much information do we need? Performance standards- how do we avoid jeopardy and support recovery? Understanding causes and implications of pre-spawning mortality of adult spring Chinook Adjusting priorities based on research Funding challenges- reliant upon Congressional appropriations and BPA ratecase

14 Willamette BiOp Implementation Concept and Timeline
Short term ( ) Long term ( ) Short-term Implementation Actions/ Construction Long-term Implementation Actions/Construction Evaluate Presumed RPA Actions Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation Configuration and Operations Planning (COP) REFER to handout- pink is construction, other colors various phases of design Top actions are operational or annual actions (e.g., flow management) Explain that short-term, low-hanging fruit are “above the line”- adult fish facilities Other actions (downstream fish facilities, temperature control) in outyears require extensive data collection, research before design and construction Adaptive Management with Regional Collaboration Pink boxes in timeline = Construction Actions

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