During the past couple of months the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Portland General Electric, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and the US Forest Service released approximately 40,000 spring Chinook salmon fry into Whychus and Lake Creeks on Land Trust properties. These releases are part of a remarkable effort to reestablish salmon and steelhead runs in Whychus Creek and other area streams.
Last week, Land Trust staff had the opportunity to tour the Selective Water Withdrawal Tower and Fish Collection Facility at Round Butte Dam to learn how these fish releases are just the beginning of the effort to bring anadromous fish back to their home waters.
According to Don Ratliff, Fish Biologist for PGE, the numbers of spring Chinook smolts and sockeye caught in the fish transfer facility have been increasing in recent weeks. They expect to see increasing numbers of spring Chinook and sockeye smolts through April and an increase in steelhead later in the spring--likely mid April through June.
As the reintroduction of anadromous fish gains momentum, the Deschutes Land Trust is hard at work preparing for their return in Whychus Creek. Our work to restore Whychus Creek at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve and to acquire two additional miles of Whychus Creek all centers around one goal: to create a steelhead stronghold in Whychus Creek and assure the successful reintroduction of anadromous fish in this area.
Are we moving in the right direction? It would appear so, as the first ocean bound steelhead smolt was caught and tagged at the Camp Polk Meadow screw trap last week. After being caught, the fish was surgically fitted with a Pit Tag, so that biologists will know if and when he makes it to Round Butte Dam and the Selective Water Withdrawal Tower to be passed through to the lower river and continue its journey to the great blue sea.
Photo credits: Lisa Bagwell