Funding salmon and steelhead reintroduction in the Deschutes Basin

September 28th, 2012

The Pelton Fund was created by Portland General Electric Company (PGE) and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs to protect and enhance habitat for salmon and steelhead being reintroduced above the Pelton Round Butte Project.

Historically, salmon and steelhead migrated from the Columbia River up the Deschutes River and into the Crooked River, Metolius River and Whychus Creek. In 1964, PGE completed the construction of Round Butte dam on the lower Deschutes River, providing fish passage facilities to promote continued migration. Unfortunately, the passage system was unsuccessful because of the confusing currents in Lake Billy Chinook. To mitigate the loss of the salmon and steelhead runs, PGE funded a hatchery program to replenish the downstream fishery.

The Deschutes River just above the Pelton Round Butte Dam

 

In 2005, PGE and the Tribes received a new operating license which made restoring fish passage at the dams its centerpiece. To solve the fish barrier issue, PGE and the Tribes partnered to construct a $100 million dollar Fish Passage System, which saw the first returns of salmon and steelhead making their way through the facility and into the Upper Basin this year.

The Pelton Fund has been dedicated to funding habitat restoration in the Upper Basin, including the Deschutes River Conservancy’s streamflow restoration projects in Whychus Creek and the Crooked River, to support the reintroduction of salmon and steelhead. These funds have helped the DRC develop and implement the largest water conservation initiative in Oregon and to achieve one of two streamflow targets in Whychus Creek.

The Pelton Fund also supports a project to restore healthy conditions in McKay Creek, a tributary of the Crooked River. The scope of the Pelton Fund’s commitment to enhancing tributary conditions for salmon and steelhead has greatly leveraged the DRC’s ability to collaborate with its restoration partners to implement strategic and comprehensive reach-wide restoration.


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