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Passage survival of juvenile steelhead, coho salmon, and Chinook salmon in Lake Scanewa and at Cowlitz Falls Dam, Cowlitz River, Washington, 2010–16

April 3, 2018

A multi-year evaluation was conducted during 2010–16 to evaluate passage survival of juvenile steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss), Chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha), and coho salmon (O. kisutch) in Lake Scanewa, and at Cowlitz Falls Dam in the upper Cowlitz River Basin, Washington. Reservoir passage survival was evaluated in 2010, 2011, and 2016, and included the tagging and release of 1,127 juvenile salmonids. Tagged fish were released directly into the Cowlitz and Cispus Rivers, 22.3 and 8.9 km, respectively, upstream of the reservoir, and were monitored as they moved downstream into, and through the reservoir. A single release-recapture survival model was used to analyze detection records and estimate reservoir passage survival, which was defined as successful passage from reservoir entry to arrival at Cowlitz Falls Dam. Tagged fish generally moved quickly downstream of the release sites and, on average, arrived in the dam forebay within 2 d of release. Median travel time from release to first detection at the dam ranged from 0.23 to 0.96 d for juvenile steelhead, from 0.15 to 1.11 d for juvenile coho salmon, and from 0.18 to 1.89 d for juvenile Chinook salmon. Minimum reservoir passage survival probabilities were 0.960 for steelhead, 0.855 for coho salmon and 0.900 for Chinook salmon.

Dam passage survival was evaluated at the pilot-study level during 2013–16 and included the tagging and release of 2,512 juvenile salmonids. Juvenile Chinook salmon were evaluated during 2013–14, and juvenile steelhead and coho salmon were evaluated during 2015–16. A paired-release study design was used that included release sites located upstream and downstream of Cowlitz Falls Dam. The downstream release site was positioned at the downstream margin of the dam’s tailrace, which allowed dam passage survival to be measured in a manner that included mortality that occurred in the passage route and in the dam tailrace. More than one-half of the tagged Chinook salmon (52 percent) released upstream of Cowlitz Falls Dam moved downstream and passed the project; the remaining fish either remained upstream of the dam (37 percent) or were collected (11 percent). In 2015 and 2016, collection efficiencies at Cowlitz Falls Dam were abnormally high for juvenile steelhead and coho salmon, which resulted in few fish passing the dam. Seven percent of the tagged steelhead (40 fish) and 4 percent of the tagged coho salmon (18 fish) released upstream of the dam eventually passed the project, but these low numbers of fish precluded the estimation of meaningful survival estimates. Dam passage survival probability estimates for juvenile Chinook salmon were 0.828 in 2013 and 0.861 in 2014, lower than previously reported for turbine-specific passage Cowlitz Falls Dam.

Publication Year 2018
Title Passage survival of juvenile steelhead, coho salmon, and Chinook salmon in Lake Scanewa and at Cowlitz Falls Dam, Cowlitz River, Washington, 2010–16
DOI 10.3133/ofr20181050
Authors Theresa L. Liedtke, Tobias J. Kock, William Hurst
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2018-1050
Index ID ofr20181050
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Western Fisheries Research Center