Native fish return to Metolius basin

Feb 02, 2017
Confirmed! Majority of adult sockeye salmon passed above Round Butte dam were native to the mid-Deschutes River basin.

Sockeye in spawning colors. Photo: Brian Ouimette.
Sockeye in spawning colors. Photo: Brian Ouimette.
In September, we shared the exciting news that a record number of sockeye salmon were returning to the Deschutes River and its tributaries. In total, 536 sockeye salmon returned to Lake Billy Chinook, and 436 of those fish were passed upstream to spawn in the Metolius River basin. Previous years' returns ranged from only 19-86 fish.

Now, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon and Portland General Electric announced that genetic testing confirmed that most of the adult sockeye that returned were native to the Deschutes River basin. In fact, 93% of the returning fish were found to have originated in the middle Deschutes River basin.

The Metolius River basin is one of only 2 historic sockeye runs in all of Oregon, both of which have been impacted by dams and habitat loss. Habitat improvements on the Metolius River and it's tributaries are aiming to help bolster the reintroduction effort. Since 2011, the Deschtues Land Trust has been working on habitat improvements along Spring Creek, on a land trust protected, privately owned property.

Improvements have included the addition of large woody debris to the creek in order to slow fast moving water and provide refuge for fish. Native plants and shrubs have also been added to stream banks on the property to shade water and help keep it cool, which is vital for healthy salmon populations.

We are encouraged by the sockeye returns of 2016 to the Metolius, and hope to see similar successes for chinook and steelhead on Whychus Creek in the future. Learn more about our restoration efforts.

Read the full story from PGE.