The fish have spoken
After many years of effort and hundreds of millions of dollars invested, the attempt to reintroduce Deschutes River steelhead and salmon into their traditional spawning grounds above Lake Billy Chinook is jeopardized due to lack of volitional passage at the Opal Springs Hydro Project on the Crooked River. Together, we can make a difference.
Learn More. See Opal Springs.
3.4.16: We are nearing the end of the 2015/2016 steelhead season. While returns have been lower than last season, the importance of volitional passage at Opal Springs has been confirmed once again. As of today a total of 44 steelhead have been passed into Lake Billy Chinook from the lower Deschutes River. 35 of those have been radio detected at Opal Springs. Only 16 of those have gone into the trap at the base of the dam at Opal Springs and manually passed into the Crooked River. Based on counts at Sherar's Falls below Maupin a significant number of steelhead are believed to remain in the lower Deschutes so there is hope that the numbers will increase before the official end of the season in May.
While final funding for the ladder is not secure, additional sources have been identified and there is now some confidence it will be obtained. The next major milestone will be obtaining approval from FERC for installing the ladder, hopefully this fall.
10.8.15: DVWD, the operators of Opal Springs, have filed the amendment to their FERC license to add a fish ladder. It takes anywhere from 12 to 24 months for FERC to approve the amendent, 18 months is typical. We still need to raise at least $800,000 more, but this filing is a significant milestone. See the filing at: http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/file_list.asp?accession_num=20151008-5251
9.2.15: This morning PGE informed us that so far this season they have passed 52 adult spring Chinook from the lower Deschutes river into Lake Billy Chinook. This is the most ever since the reintroduction efforts began and more than double the results from the past 2 years. 25 of those Chinook were radio detected at Opal Springs, but only 8 have been passed in to the Crooked River. The temporary trap and haul facility currently in place at Opal Springs was designed for steelhead and is probably too small for Chinook to feel comfortable entering.
8.31.15: ODFW commits $1.2M to Opal Springs passage! Today the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife informed Deschutes Valley Water District that ODFW will invest $1.2M in building a volitional fish ladder at Opal Springs. This gets us well over halfway to the goal of raising $4M.
7.13.15: Big News! DVWD, the operators of Opal Springs, have agreed to file an amendment to their FERC license to add a fish ladder. The draft amendment is currently out for review (see it here) and they hope to officially file by the end of September. This also removes the requirement to raise all funding by the end of October, but funding must still be arranged before construction will begin.
7.1.15: The Central Oregon MyWindow TV show did a short video on the need for fish passage at Opal Springs! See it here.
6.23.15: Final 2014/2105 steelhead season return numbers as well as early 2015 Chinook salmon results are in. Once again, the fish have clearly spoken and the Crooked River is where they want to go. Learn More
5.10.15: The Bend Bulletin covered Opal Springs Passage in a front page article in the Sunday issue.
5.6.15: The Association of NW Steelheaders featured an article on Opal Springs in their latest magazine.
4.16.15: Welcome to our newest partner, the Wild Steelhead Coalition. Also, the Learn More page has been updated with the latest numbers. 90 steelhead have returned so far this year, 72 of them have been detected at Opal Springs.
4.1.15: Central Oregon Flyfishers published an article in their newsletter on anadromous fish reintroduction and Opal Springs fish passage.
3.27.15: PGE reports sighting steelhead spawning in the Crooked River above Opal Springs.