Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

There are many unique challenges posed in fish passage and reintroduction projects, and knowledge transfer is critical to their success.

Late spring and summer are busy times of the year at the USGS Western Fisheries Research Center (WFRC). Our “field season” for many of our projects is well underwayField technicians boat up rivers and wade down streams in the Columbia, Klamath and Sacramento River basins, collecting fish to assess their health or inserting tags in their bellies so that their behavior can be tracked. Scuba divers hover over the sea floor in Puget Sound, counting kelp, eelgrass, fish, crustaceans and other organisms. And other scientists trek up to Alaska to survey and assess the health of herring, described here in this volume of Something Fishy!

These fair-weather months are also a time for our scientists and leadership to get out on the landscape, talk to people about our research, and grow our partnerships. In May, staff from our Columbia River Field Station, along with our friends at Anchor QEA, hosted a tour of fish passage facilities at large dams located across Oregon and Washington State for federal, state and tribal natural resource managers from California.

Fish Passage Tour Group Photo
Group photo of USGS staff and partners who participated in the Fish Passage Tour sponsored by the USGS Western Fisheries Research Center.  Partners: NOAA Fisheries, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the California Department of Water Resources, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and the members and associates of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe of Northern California.

NOAA Fisheries has determined that recovery of Central Valley salmon and steelhead populations cannot be achieved without re-establishing populations in above-dam habitats in key watersheds.  Many of these habitats are within protected National Forests, in relatively good condition, and are located at higher elevations providing cooler water temperatures and greater resilience to climate change.

The tour was a way to share the science and innovative approaches used for Pacific Northwest fish passage and reintroduction projects as well as lessons learned along the way. Major fish passage projects on the Cowlitz, Lewis, Clackamas, and Baker rivers were visited, and scientists from WFRC and Anchor QEA spoke about the research and techniques applied to improve the prospect of success.

Knowledge transfer is vital to the success of these fish passage and reintroduction projects. There are many unique challenges posed by the type of dam the fish must pass; the river conditions; potential predators, competitors, and disease above and below the dam; and the size, behavior, and hardiness of the reintroduced fish. Our team at WFRC is helping pave the way with ecosystem science that looks across these issues and provides guidance to managers responsible for doing their best to help fish survive for generations to come.

List of partners who participated in the fish passage tour:

Anchor QEA (John Ferguson, Elizabeth Greene); California Department of Fish and Wildlife (Tina Bartlett, Jason Roberts); California Department of Water Resources (Cindy Messer, Kris Tjernell); NOAA (Steve Edmondson, Melissa Jundt, Ellen McBride, Cathy Marcinkevage); U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (Heather Casillas); U.S. Forest Service (Amanda Brinkman-Parker); U.S. Geological Survey (Dave Beauchamp, Jill Hardiman, Toby Kock, Russell Perry, John Plumb, Rachel Reagan, Steve Waste); Winnemem Wintu Tribe (Chief Caleen Sisk, Marine Sisk-Franco); and associates of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe (Melanie Cheung, Will Doolittle, Toby McLeod).


Group of people standing on North Shore Collector in the forebay of Cowlitz Falls Dam
Toby Kock (right, in plaid shirt) listens to a question during the Fish Passage Tour while standing on the North Shore Collector in the forebay of Cowlitz Falls Dam. The group discussed various ways that migrating juvenile salmon approach and pass the dam.
North Shore Collector separator at Cowlitz Falls Dam, WA
Participants of the Fish Passage Tour view the North Shore Collector separator at Cowlitz Falls Dam, WA. Fish are collected here to allow staff to count, determine species, and sample fish as they migrate downstream.

Get Our News

These items are in the RSS feed format (Really Simple Syndication) based on categories such as topics, locations, and more. You can install and RSS reader browser extension, software, or use a third-party service to receive immediate news updates depending on the feed that you have added. If you click the feed links below, they may look strange because they are simply XML code. An RSS reader can easily read this code and push out a notification to you when something new is posted to our site.