Willamette project biological opinions improvements for fish in a dynamic environment
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Willamette Project Biological Opinions: Improvements for fish in a dynamic environment PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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

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Willamette Project Biological Opinions: Improvements for fish in a dynamic environment

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NWHA- Panel Discussion

“Spawning Better Ideas for Fish Passage”

February 23, 2011

Mindy Simmons

Program Manager, Willamette Biological Opinion Implementation

Willamette Project Biological Opinions:Improvements for fish in a dynamic environment

Multiple Authorized Purposes

  • Flood damage reduction

  • Hydropower

  • Navigation

  • Irrigation

  • Fish & wildlife

  • Recreation

  • Water quality

  • Municipal & industrial water supply


Big Cliff

Green Peter


Willamette Project

13 multi-purpose dams



Blue River

Fall Creek

Lookout Point

Hills Creek

Upper Willamette River Spring Chinook salmon

Upper Willamette River winter steelhead

ESA- listed anadromous fish in the Willamette Basin

National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) jurisdiction

  • Adults spawn in tributaries of Willamette River

  • Juveniles migrate to ocean for part of their life

  • Return to same stream where they were born

ESA- Listed resident fish in the Willamette Basin

Oregon chub

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) jurisdiction

Bull trout

Resident fish spend their entire

lifecycle in fresh water

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


North Santiam



South Santiam




Oregon Chub: all basins have populations, many on Corps property

Bull trout


Middle Fork

Bull trout

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)

Willamette BiOpActions: A life cycle approach

Types of Willamette BiOp Actions

  • Evaluate Feasibility of Downstream Fish Passage Facilities

  • Cougar- 2014

  • Lookout Point- 2023

  • Detroit- 2021 (or 2018)


spawning habitat

  • Upstream fish passage for adults via “trap-and-haul”

  • Minto- 2012

  • Foster- 2013

  • Dexter- 2014

  • Fall Creek- 2015

  • Downstream Habitat Improvements

  • Flow management

  • Temperature

  • Hatchery improvements

  • Habitat Restoration Projects

Configurations and Operational Planning Study

Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation

Adaptive Management

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

Concept: Upgrade hatchery fish facilities to use as “trap-and-haul” fish passage for adult fishUse hatchery spring Chinook to evaluate potential for reintroduction in upstream habitat

Upgrade Minto Hatchery Fish Facility: Adult Trap-and-Haul



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”)

Power Turbines

Lookout Point Dam

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

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

Willamette BiOp ImplementationConcept and Timeline

Short term (2008-2015)

Long term (2016-2023)

Short-term Implementation Actions/ Construction

Long-term Implementation Actions/Construction

Evaluate Presumed RPA Actions

Research, Monitoring, and Evaluation

Configuration and Operations Planning (COP)

Adaptive Management with Regional Collaboration

Pink boxes in timeline = Construction Actions

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