$10.7M project to help fish travel coming to Oregon river

Jan 08, 2018

The Oregonian

$10.7M project to help fish travel coming to Oregon river BEND — A project designed to help fish populations travel more effectively is coming to an Oregon river.

Construction is set to begin this spring on a 28-foot fish ladder at the Opal Springs Hydroelectric Project near the mouth of the Crooked River, The Bend Bulletin reported .

The primary goal of the $10.7 million project is to allow chinook salmon and steelhead in the Deschutes Basin to travel up the Crooked River more effectively, reuniting disconnected fish populations, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife Fish Biologist Brett Hodgson said.

The ladder will make it possible for fish to move upstream and downstream more freely, said Darek Staab, project manager for Trout Unlimited's Deschutes Chapter.

"It provides access to approximately 120 river miles of the Crooked River and its tributaries," Hodgson said. "Passage and access to the Crooked River is really critical."

The concrete ladder will have 38 individual segments where the fish can rest in the water, project consultant Finlay Anderson said.

Ed Pugh, general manager of the Deschutes Valley Water District, which operates the Opal Springs Hydroelectric Project, said they've been looking for ways to improve fish passage on the Crooked River for more than a decade. But a lack of funding and disagreements over the specific requirements for the fish ladder kept the project from getting off the ground, Pugh said.

The water district intends to break ground on the project in April, with the project expected to be complete by the end of next year, Pugh said.

"We're pretty excited about this project finally getting started," he said.

--The Associated Press

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