New fish ladder coming to Opal Springs

Bend Bulletin –

A $10.7 million project is coming to the Crooked River, designed to help the region’s salmon and steelhead populations traverse the river more effectively.

A collection of local groups, along with federal and state agencies, plans to begin construction this spring on a 28-foot fish ladder at the Opal Springs Hydroelectric Project, near the mouth of the Crooked River. The primary goal of the project, according to Brett Hodgson, fish biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife in Bend, is to allow chinook salmon and steelhead in the Deschutes Basin to travel up the Crooked River more effectively, reuniting disconnected fish populations.

“It provides access to approximately 120 river miles of the Crooked River and its tributaries,” Hodgson said. “Passage and access to the Crooked River is really critical.”

Finlay Anderson, a consultant on the project, said the fish ladder will be made of concrete, with 38 individual segments where the fish can rest in the water. The flow of the water through the ladder will be controlled by a rubber bladder, Anderson said. Darek Staab, project manager for Trout Unlimited’s Deschutes Chapter, said the ladder will make it possible for fish, including native rainbow trout and bull trout, to move upstream and downstream more freely.

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