Steelhead want to swim up Oregon’s Crooked River. But they only make it about a half mile before hitting their heads on the Opal Springs Hydro Project, a diversion dam impeding migration. Half of the fish are captured and trucked over, while the other half turn around and get lost. Fish passage over the dam is a high priority for the Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife as well as angling and conservation groups.
“It’s critical for the success of Deschutes Basin reintroduction efforts to get passage at this location.” says Brett Hodgson, ODFW Bend district fish biologist. “It will provide access to over 100 miles of spawning habitat for spring chinook, summer steelhead, and threatened bull trout.”
For over fifty years salmon and steelhead didn’t even make it over the Pelton Round Butte Dam complex, downstream on the Deschutes. As part of the restoration program salmon and steelhead trucking around the dams began in 2012. After release into Lake Billy Chinook, about 80 percent of radio-tagged steelhead from the 2013-14 season are heading for the Crooked. The Metolius and Middle Deschutes being the other options.
“The only thing we need to make this project go forward is money. We have $6 million we’re comfortable with but need another million to million and a half to finish it off,” says Hodgson. ODFW and stakeholders hope construction will begin summer 2017.
Tom Bie is the founder, editor, and publisher of The Drake. He started the magazine in 1998 as an annual newsprint publication based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. He then moved it to Steamboat, Colorado (1999), Boulder, Colorado (2001), and San Clemente, California (2004), as he took jobs as managing editor at Paddler, Senior Editor at Skiing, and Editor-in-Chief at Powder, respectively. Tom and The Drake are now both based in Denver, Colorado, where The Drake is finally all grows up(Swingers, 1996) to a quarterly magazine.