MCKENZIE BRIDGE, Oregon (STPNS) -- BLUE RIVER: Efforts to reintroduce Chinook salmon in about 24 miles of high quality spawning and rearing habitat at Cougar Reservoir have included the construction of a truck fish and haul facility. The structure is part of an ongoing program to capture adult fish below the dam and transport them by truck to various locations above it, where they are released.
The trap and haul operation extends from late May to mid-October. The current method for “unloading” the fish from the transport trucks can be limited by terrain and poor access to desirable pools. Officials say this results in excessive and rough handling of the fish during the release process and increases the physiological stress on them. As a result, mortality rates are elevated and spawning success is reduced.
The two agencies are proposing a restoration program to improve current release sites on about a dozen locations around the Willamette Forest. It would make them more “fish friendly,” while reducing potential adverse site impacts created by the truck transport and release operations.
Locally, plans include using the existing boat ramp at the Slide Creek Campground without any changes. At the Homestead Campground, improvements would include clearing trees and branches for better truck access, and installing a semi-permanent 15-inch diameter plastic pipe to move adult fish from the truck to a holding pool in the high water area.
Public comments are being accepted until February 15th. An Environmental Assessment is expected to completed and available for public review and comment in March 2013. Comments can be submitted by: mailing to Forest Supervisor, Willamette National Forest, Attn: Brett Blundon, 3106 Pierce Parkway, Suite D, Springfield, Oregon 97477: or E-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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