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Fish Jumping to Get Back to White Salmon River


For the first time in a century, migrating fish have been spotted in the upper White Salmon River, Washington.

Scientists with Yakama Nation Fisheries and the U.S. Geological Survey spotted jumping fish—believed to be adult steelhead—at two locations well upstream of Condit Dam, which was partially breached last October. That means fish are making their way from the Columbia River, past the mouth of the White Salmon, through the opening at the bottom of Condit Dam, and into 33 miles of previously unavailable habitat.

The fish spotted last week were likely hatchery steelhead. Photos and observations indicate they're not the fall Chinook salmon that were routinely stocked above Condit Dam before last year's partial breaching.
Scientists and tribal leaders have watched the area closely since the White Salmon began flowing freely last October. A proposed management plan for the river calls for a mostly hands-off approach, hoping threatened and endangered fish repopulate the newly open river on their own.

Crews are still hauling out about 500 cubic yards of concrete per day to complete the full removal of the Condit Dam by the August 31 target date.

PacifiCorp—the owner and operator of the dam—worked with NOAA Fisheries, the Yakama Nation, federal and state partners, and environmental groups to remove the dam and open passage to healthy habitat needed to recover the populations of fall Chinook salmon, steelhead trout, and other migrating fish.

Posted July 30, 2012