EUGENE, Ore. — Wild Chinook Salmon are on the rebound. For the first time since being listed on the endangered species list, numbers are up at the Fall Creek Reservoir.
Greg Taylor, a biologist with the US Army Corps of Engineers, oversees the fisheries trap and haul program at Fall Creek Reservoir.
“The salmon are in great condition and they are looking really healthy,” Taylor said.
Juvenile salmon that left years ago, have returned as adults and ready to spawn. The fish follow an imprint from the ocean to the river and to their breeding ground.
But at Fall Creek they hit a dam and getting over requires a lift, literally.
The US Army Corps of Engineers started the project in the 1960’s when the dam was built. Back then, returning salmon were sent to hatcheries and other locations.
Ten years ago as wild salmon numbers dwindled biologists redirected their efforts by physically transporting the salmon over the dam.
“Our job is to be a salmon shuttle when the fish get here we want to transport them as quickly as we can and up to the river,” Taylor said.
By the end of June, 75 percent of totaling returning salmon will have made journey up the river, into the tank and released above the dam.
Researchers have averaged about 350 salmon each season in recent years, but they are expecting up to 600 to return in 2013.
The US Army Corps of Engineers is in the design process for a new facility to simplify the hauling process. It’s scheduled to be up and running in 2017.