New facility aims to improve salmon runs at Fall Creek Dam

Officials are expecting between 300 to 500 wild adult salmon to go through the facility this year and hope it leads to more sustainable runs.

Posted: May 23, 2019 5:54 PM
Updated: May 23, 2019 6:02 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- A system that allows fish to make their way upstream to spawn on the Middle Fork of the Willamette River is now improved, thanks to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

On Thursday, they held a dedication ceremony for the Fall Creek Adult Fish Collection Facility at the base of Fall Creek Dam.

Greg Taylor, a fish biologist with the Corps, said the facility has been operating for close to a year and replaces an older system that in some cases injured and killed the fish.

"It didn't allow us to sort fish. It took fish out of the water, so we didn't do a water-to-water transfer," Taylor said.

The new facility uses a series of fish ladders and tubes that brings fish to collection pools. The fish are then flushed down to awaiting water trucks, which take them on a 15-minute drive past the Fall Creek Dam, where they are released. Taylor said they are expecting between 300 to 500 wild adult salmon to go through the facility this year and hope it leads to more sustainable runs.

"We've been able to add features, things we've learned over 50 years of transporting fish, to this new facility that will improve the survival of the fish," Talor said. "It's easier on our folks that are operating the facility as well, so it's kind of a win-win for both fish and people."

Taylor said at the Fall Creek Dam juvenile salmon don't have trouble making their way to the Pacific Ocean.

Colonel Aaron Dorf said more projects that help fish going up and downstream are needed.

"Hopefully in the decades to come, we'll be standing at other projects such as Detroit and Cougar dedicating similar facilities to also help salmon and other species recovery," Dorf said.

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