This article was published on: 08/22/22 3:19 PM
Chinook salmon are the largest of the Pacific salmon and can grow to over 100 pounds. Once an abundant species in the Upper Deschutes Basin, the Chinook salmon population was cut off from the upper reaches of the basin after the construction of the Pelton Dam in the 1960s created an unintended fish passage barrier. In 2010, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and Portland General Electric, co-owners of the dam, installed a Selective Water Withdrawl complex to allow these important fish to complete their natural lifecycle upstream from the dams for the first time in nearly 50 years.
PGE has reported that 700 Spring Chinook have passed through the complex into the upper basin, a sharp increase from 180 Chinook last year. The is cause for celebration in the journey to help restore habitat, passage, and streamflow in the basin. In addition, the increase in salmon passage is important to the Indigenous people of Central Oregon. Salmon is what is called a First Food, meaning it’s central to Indigenous culture.
To read more about this journey and what it means to the basin, read How the Deschutes Came Together to Bring Back Migrating Fish by 2021 PGE Project Zero Intern, Tai’Anne Smith.