Improving habitat on the Deschutes
Last week, biologists and consultants for Portland General Electric and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs began working with a heavy-lift helicopter contractor to place natural materials in the Deschutes River near Warm Springs, just below the Pelton Round Butte Hydroelectric Project.
That stretch of the river is prime spawning habitat for salmon and steelhead, especially for fall Chinook, but the scientists are looking to enhance that by adding logs and root wads, rocks, and gravel that will provide shelter for fish and extend spawning grounds.
The location was chosen in part because that is an area of the river where there are limited natural sources of those materials, because the dams interrupt the flow of debris and gravel downstream.
The enhancement is part of a six-year process, with two years of premonitoring data collection by fisheries biologists and four years postmonitoring. Project objectives include enhancing fall Chinook, summer steelhead and redband trout spawning areas and rearing habitats and also to slow island decay by protecting a couple of island heads.
The effort supports a larger program led by PGE and the tribes, who co-own the hydro project, to reintroduce salmon and steelhead populations that were cut off when the hydro dams were constructed in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and also to improve fish habitat and water quality throughout the Deschutes Basin.
Work started Monday afternoon and wrapped up late Wednesday. The effort involved placing about 1,500 tons of river rock into two sites.
Approximately 30 boulders, six rootwads, and 30 logs, plus gravel, will provide shelter and improved spawning habitat for fall Chinook runs that should begin in earnest in a matter of weeks.
Pelton Dam Road
Contractors for Portland General Electric will also be completing additional repairs and improvements on Pelton Dam Road this fall. Work began Sept. 3, and will run through Nov. 5.
"There was a significant storm event in early August and the rainfall overwhelmed the ditches and culverts," said Steve Corson, spokesman for PGE.
"We had damage to the new roadway along the ditches and the water washed out a portion of the retaining wall," he added. "We are repairing the wall, armoring the ditches in the damaged areas and adding additional culverts to prevent damage in the future."
The road is currently closed from Elk Drive to Willow Creek through Oct. 15, after which, the road will be open, subject to construction traffic delays. Watch for flaggers and other road control measures.
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