Fish & Wildlife
Protecting habitats for fish and wildlife
As part of our commitment to protect fish, wildlife and cultural resources, we implement a variety of monitoring and management efforts.
Fisheries biologists and scientists work collaboratively with local agencies and tribes to study the behavior of fish passing through the Priest Rapids Project.
More than 40 species of fish swim the waters of the project area, including 14 of the 24 recognized families of North American freshwater fish. Among these species are both anadromous (migratory) and resident fish.
- Pacific Lamprey
- Spring, summer and fall Chinook Salmon
- Summer Steelhead
- Northern Pikeminnow
- Smallmouth Bass
- White Sturgeon
Interested in the state and federal requirements and agreements that govern our fish protection efforts?
BROWSE THROUGH THE BIOLOGICAL OPINIONS & AGREEMENTS
Biological opinions & agreements
UPPER COLUMBIA RIVER SPRING-RUN CHINOOK SALMON AND STEELHEAD BIOLOGICAL OPINION
We provide accurate counts of adult fish that migrate past Priest Rapids and Wanapum dams. Video cameras record passage 24-7 during migration season from April 15 to Nov. 15. These counts help us manage the river environment to ensure salmon and other migratory fish survive and thrive.
Priest Rapids Dam Counts
These are the folks who do our fish counts every year from April through November. They can identify most any fish in the river from the shape of its head, body and tail. The counters used to count in real time, 24-7, through viewing windows in a small rooms called "count houses." Today, the runs are video recorded at each dam, and the counters work off the videos. From left, Vicki Solheim, Arline Harvold-Terry, Carol Frady, Supervisor Dave Duvall, John Smoots, Debbra Long, Denise Wisdom and Val Parker.
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Our goal is to ensure that 86 percent of juvenile salmon (smolts) pass through both Wanapum and Priest Rapids dams safely. Our fish bypass projects allow downstream migrating juvenile salmon to pass our dams without going through a turbine, thus increasing their chance of survival.
Each fish bypass project was preceded by years of research, model studies and testing to determine where smolts travel through the river as they approach our dams. The final design for the bypass offers migrating smolts the safest possible downstream passage route.
Wanapum Fish Bypass
April - August
A single 290 ft. chute
Opening of 18.5 ft.
Exit width of 90 ft.
Priest Rapids Fish Bypass
April - August
Three 204-foot chutes (using existing spill gates). Each shoot has a 40-44 foot opening.
Retained and modified 3 existing spillways and raised the crest height just over 35 feet in each spillway
Innovative Technology with
Most juvenile salmonids stay in the upper portion of the water column as they migrate downstream to the ocean. This fact influenced the design of each bypass. Each fish bypass system is engineered to provide migrating salmonids the safest possible passage route while also maximizing water-use efficiency. Water flowing through the bypasses is designed to minimize harmful total dissolved gas (TDG), which at high levels can cause gas bubble trauma to fish.
Fish survival and predator control
For more than 30 years, we have been an innovator in fish protection efforts. Fish conservation programs developed with fishery agencies and tribes play a critical role in the region’s efforts to preserve the quality of Northwest fish populations.
We operate and maintain two fishways at each dam designed to allow safe passage upstream for adult fish returning to their native waters. The sluiceways at both Priest Rapids and Wanapum dams provide a fallback passage for steelhead and fall Chinook.
April to November during upstream fish migration
Off-ladder adult fish trap
The Off-ladder Adult Fish Trap facility at Priest Rapids Dam was built for fish research and management activities. The trap diverts steelhead from the fish ladder into a holding tank where they are examined, measured, recorded and tagged before being returned to the fish ladder.
Off-ladder adult fish detection
Adult Passive Integrator Transponder (PIT)-tag detection equipment is installed at both fishways at Priest Rapids Dam. These PIT-tag readers monitor downstream survival of fish and their return upstream, providing valuable data regarding fish migration histories.
Off-ladder fish counting
We are committed to providing accurate counts of adult fish migrating through the fishways at Priest Rapids and Wanapum dams. These counts contribute to research and management purposes for the Columbia Basin salmon populations and river environment.
Installation of wire deters various species of fish-eating birds that prey upon migrating salmon smolts. We conducted studies at Wanapum and Priest Rapids dams to determine where birds feed upon smolts, and installed wire arrays to protect fish in those areas.
|DAM||# OF WIRES||COMPLETED|
Northern pikeminnow are a native, fish-eating minnow that lives in the Columbia River. Northern pikeminnow larger that eight inches are known to feed heavily on salmonid smolts during the downstream migration. To increase survival of the salmonids moving through the Priest Rapids Project, we implemented a control program that focuses on removing adults, sub-adult and yearling northern pikeminnow. We use set lines, seines (a net that hangs vertically in the water), traps and angling tackle to remove northern pikeminnow and increase the overall survival of migrating juvenile salmonids.
Fish habitat & hatcheries
Our habitat restoration and conservation efforts are intended to accelerate fish survival and recovery. Due to historically declining salmon populations, we are focused on preservation of wild salmon. Learn more about the facilities that support our hatchery programs.
|FACILITY||OWNER/OPERATOR||LOCATION||SPECIES||TOTAL GRANT PUD FISH||ACTIVITIES|
|Priest Rapids Hatchery||Grant PUD/WDFW||Priest Rapids Dam, on bank of Columbia River||Upriver bright fall Chinook||5.6 million||Spawning of adults, egg incubation, early and final juvenile rearing, release into the Columbia River|
|Nason Creek Acclimation Facility||Grant PUD/WDFW||River mile 10.8 of Nason Creek||Wenatchee basin spring Chinook||225,000||Final rearing and release into Nason Creek|
|Carlton Acclimation Facility||Grant and Chelan PUDs/WDFW||Twisp, WA on the bank of the Methow River||Methow basin summer Chinook||200,000||Final acclimation and release into the Methow River|
|Eastbank Hatchery||Chelan PUD/WDFW||Wenatchee on the bank of the Columbia River||Wenatchee and Methow basin spring and summer Chinook||740,000||Spawning of adults, egg incubation, early juvenile rearing|
|Methow Hatchery||Douglas PUD/WDFW||Winthrop, WA||Methow basin spring Chinook||135,000||Spawning of adults, egg incubation, early and final juvenile rearing, release into the Methow River|
|Dryden Pond||Chelan PUD/WDFW||Dryden, WA on the bank of the Wenatchee River||Wenatchee basin summer Chinook||182,000||Final acclimation and release into the Wenatchee River|
|Chief Joseph Hatchery||BPA and Grant PUD/Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation||Chief Joseph Dam on bank of Columbia River||Okanogan basin spring and summer Chinook||388,000||Spawning of adults, egg incubation, early juvenile rearing|
|Omak and Riverside ponds||BPA and Grant PUD/Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation||Various locations in Okanogan basin||Okanogan basin spring and summer Chinook||388,000||Final acclimation and release into the Okanogan River|
|Penticton Hatchery||Grant and Chelan PUDs/Okanagan Nation Alliance||Penticton, B.C.||Sockeye||1.1 million||Spawning of adults, egg incubation and early rearing, release into Okanogan River/Skaha Lake, B.C.|
|Wells Hatchery||Douglas PUD/WDFW||Wells Dam on the bank of the Columbia River||Upper Columbia River summer steelhead||100,000||Spawning of adults, egg incubation, early rearing|
|St. Mary’s Acclimation Pond||Colville Confederated Tribes||Omak, WA||Upper Columbia River summer steelhead||Approximately 20,000||Final acclimation and release into Omak Creek|
Wildlife & botanical programs
The Priest Rapids Project is home to a variety of native amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals and plants. The riparian habitat (green, vegetated areas on each side of streams and rivers) provides a valuable and otherwise scarce resource. This habitat is used by more than 60 different animal species documented in the project area.