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Title: Passage Distribution and Federal Columbia River Power System Survival for Steelhead Kelts Tagged Above and at Lower Granite Dam, Year 2

Steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) populations have declined throughout their range in the last century and many populations, including those of the Snake River Basin are listed under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The reasons for their decline are many and complex, but include habitat loss and degradation, overharvesting, and dam construction. The 2008 Biological Opinion calls for an increase in the abundance of female steelhead through an increase in iteroparity (i.e., repeat spawning) and this can be realized through a combination of reconditioning and in-river survival of migrating kelts. The goal of this study is to provide the data necessary to inform fisheries managers and dam operators of Snake River kelt migration patterns, survival, and routes of dam passage. Steelhead kelts (n = 487) were captured and implanted with acoustic transmitters and passive integrated transponder (PIT)-tags at the Lower Granite Dam (LGR) Juvenile Fish Facility and at weirs located in tributaries of the Snake and Clearwater rivers upstream of LGR. Kelts were monitored as they moved downstream through the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) by 15 autonomous and 3 cabled acoustic receiver arrays. Cabled receiver arrays deployed on the dam faces allowed for three-dimensional tracking of fish as theymore » approached the dam face and were used to determine the route of dam passage. Overall, 27.3% of the kelts tagged in this study successfully migrated to Martin Bluff (rkm 126, as measured from the mouth of the Columbia River), which is located downstream of all FCRPS dams. Within individual river reaches, survival per kilometer estimates ranged from 0.958 to 0.999; the lowest estimates were observed in the immediate forebay of FCRPS dams. Steelhead kelts tagged in this study passed over the spillway routes (spillway weirs, traditional spill bays) in greater proportions and survived at higher rates compared to the few fish passed through powerhouse routes (turbines and juvenile bypass systems). The results of this study provide information about the route of passage and subsequent survival of steelhead kelts that migrated through the Snake and Columbia rivers from LGR to Bonneville Dam in 2013. These data may be used by fisheries managers and dam operators to identify potential ways to increase the survival of kelts during their seaward migrations.« less
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Resource Type:
Technical Report
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
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Country of Publication:
United States