skip to main content

Title: Evaluation of Salmon Spawning Below Bonneville Dam, Annual Report October 2005 - September 2006.

Since FY 2000, scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have conducted research to assess the extent of spawning by chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) and fall Chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha) in the lower mainstem Columbia River. Their work supports a larger project funded by the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) aimed at characterizing the physical habitat used by mainstem fall Chinook and chum salmon populations. Multiple collaborators in addition to PNNL are involved in the BPA project--counterparts include the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission (PSMFC), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW). Data resulting from the individual tasks each agency conducts are providing a sound scientific basis for developing strategies to operate the Federal Columbia River Power System (FCRPS) in ways that will effectively protect and enhance the chum and tule fall Chinook salmon populations--both listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Fall Chinook salmon, thought to originate from Bonneville Hatchery, were first noted to be spawning downstream of Bonneville Dam by WDFW biologists in 1993. Known spawning areas include gravel beds on the Washington side of the river near Hamiltonmore » Creek and near Ives Island. Limited surveys of spawning ground were conducted in the area around Ives and Pierce islands from 1994 through 1997. Based on those surveys, it is believed that fall Chinook salmon are spawning successfully in this area. The size of this population from 1994 to 1996 was estimated at 1800 to 5200 fish. Chum salmon also have been documented spawning downstream of Bonneville Dam. Chum salmon were listed as threatened under the ESA in March 1999. At present there is a need to determine the number of fall Chinook and chum salmon spawning downstream of Bonneville Dam, the characteristics of their spawning areas, and the flows necessary to ensure their long-term survival. Ongoing discussions regarding the minimum and maximum flows will result in optimal spawning habitat usage and survival of embryos of both species. Collection of additional data as part of this project will ensure that established flow guidelines are appropriate and provide adequate protection for the species of concern. This is consistent with the high priority placed by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council Independent Scientific Advisory Board and the salmon managers on determining the importance of mainstem habitats to the production of salmon in the Columbia River Basin. Thus, there is a need to better understand the physical habitat variables used by mainstem fall Chinook and chum salmon populations and the effects of hydropower project operations on spawning and incubation. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory was asked to participate in the cooperative study during FY 2000. Since then, we have focused on (1) investigating the interactions between groundwater and surface water near fall Chinook and chum salmon spawning areas; (2) providing in-season hyporheic temperature data and assisting state agencies with emergence timing estimates; (3) locating and mapping deep-water fall Chinook salmon spawning areas; and (4) providing support to the WDFW for analysis of stranding data. Work conducted during FY 2006 addressed these same efforts. This report documents the studies and tasks performed by PNNL during FY 2006. Chapter 1 provides a description of the searches conducted for deepwater redds--adjacent to Pierce and Ives islands for fall Chinook salmon and near the Interstate 205 bridge for chum salmon. The chapter also provides data on redd location, information about habitat associations, and estimates of total spawning populations. Chapter 2 documents the collection of data on riverbed and river temperatures and water surface elevations, from the onset of spawning to the end of emergence, and the provision of those data in-season to fisheries management agencies to assist with emergence timing estimates and evaluations of redd dewatering. Technical assistance provided to the WDFW and PSMFC in evaluation of stranding data is summarized in Chapter 3.« less
; ;  [1]
  1. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
R&D Project: 1999-003-01; TRN: US200915%%379
DOE Contract Number:
26934 REL 2
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Resource Relation:
Related Information: document dated January 2007
Research Org:
Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), Portland, OR (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States