Near BLUE RIVER, Ore. — Young salmon on the McKenzie River are getting a free ride downstream that could help more of them survive.
Their taxi? A $5 million portable floating fish collector.
This is the first of its kind in the Willamette Basin. It pulls water in with juvenile spring Chinook salmon in it, traps them inside and moves them downstream, past some of the larger dams.
Biologist Greg Taylor with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says it should reduce mortality rates of baby salmon by about 50 percent.
“The collector collects the fish and that allows us to count them, document them, tag them, learn things about them. But ultimately the goal is to safely transport them below the dam so that they survive,” Taylor said.
After two years, the device will be evaluated. Taylor says the goal is to have a sustainable run of fish produced above Cougar Dam, and this is a piece of that puzzle.