Last week the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs continued their reintroduction of native salmon and steelhead to the upper Deschutes basin tributaries. 30,000 Chinook fry were released in the newly restored Whychus Creek channel at the Land Trust’s Camp Polk Meadow Preserve. This marks the first time the little guys were let go in their newly restored home in the meadow. Will they make it to the Deschutes River and eventually the ocean before returning to Whychus Creek to spawn? Much work is being done along Whychus Creek and throughout Oregon to ensure they will.
Check out this video from Scott Nelson Productions in which Land Trust Executive Director Brad Chalfant talks about the collaboration that helped bring the Whychus Creek Restoration project to fruition.
During the next few weeks Camp Polk Meadow will continue to hum with activity. There will be more side-channel construction, crews will continue to fill the old creek channel with plugs of soil and rocks, and they will create several channel reentry points near the downstream end of the project area. Finally, come April, 12,000 more native plants will go into the ground!
Further downstream, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) recently announced agreement on a one-year strategy amongst involved state, federal and tribal parties to give returning spawners a lift over what has for the past 50 years been a three-dam dead end.
Fishery managers from ODFW, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation, and Portland General Electric plan to trap returning spring Chinook and sockeye salmon and steelhead below the Pelton-Round Butte complex of dams in central Oregon, haul them aboard trucks and release them above Round Butte Dam in Lake Billy Chinook.
The planned spawner trapping effort later this year will take aim at "known origin" fish - for Chinook and steelhead that were released as juveniles in the tributaries above the dam who later found their way down through the reservoir to a new fish collection device, which was first fully operational in 2010, at Round Butte.
According to Mike Gauvin, ODFW Pelton Round Butte mitigation coordinator, approximately half of the expected returning adults will be released into Lake Billy Chinook to continue their upstream migration. Many of these fish will be fitted with radio tags so biologists can study their migration behavior and spawning locations.