Friday June 23, 2023

Capital Press

Upper and middle Snake River flows sent downstream to benefit migrating juvenile salmon and steelhead are expected to exceed last year’s total.

“We have had higher releases for a longer period than usual due to above-normal snowpack,” said Ryan Hedrick, water operations specialist at the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation’s Snake River Area Office in Boise. “The last time we were up this high for a while was 2019.”

Under a 2008 biological opinion from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries, Reclamation each year provides up to 487,000 acre-feet per year of water, known as flow augmentation, to aid migrating salmon and steelhead in the lower Snake and Columbia rivers, according to the bureau.

The opinion applies to the Snake River Basin above Brownlee, the farthest downstream of the Snake storage reservoirs. The annual targeted minimum is 427,000 acre-feet.

This year’s systemwide total is on track to be 445,000 acre-feet, up 18% from last year, Hedrick said.

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