• Willamette BiOp

    February 2013: See findings from research on juvenile salmon passage at several Willamette Basin federal dams, adult fish spawning success, bull trout reintroduction, lamprey research and moreabstracts from the annual Willamette Basin Fisheries Science Review. Link to abstracts here.






    12-11-12: A drawdown at Fall Creek Reservoir in the Willamette Basin helps move ESA-listed juvenile fish past the dams through the regulating outlets at Fall Creek Dam. Research has shown that lowering the reservoir pool during juvenile migration results in roughly a ten-fold increase in the numbers of adult salmon that later return to Fall Creek. The operation has been so successful that the Corps is testing it at Cougar Dam as well.  



    The Willamette River Basin Project is comprised of 13 dams and reservoirs in the Willamette River drainage system, which begins south of Cottage Grove, Ore., and extends north to the Columbia River. The operation of each dam contributes to an overall water resource plan designed to preserve the quality of the valley's environment by providing flood damage reduction, power generation, irrigation, and navigation on the Willamette River and several of its tributaries. In addition, the dams help maintain water quality and support water-related recreation.


    On May 31, 2007, the action agencies provided a Supplemental Biological Assessment to NOAA Fisheries and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service evaluating the effects on ESA-listed fish in operating the Willamette River Basin dams for flood damage reduction and power.


    On September 20, 2007, Willamette Riverkeeper and the Northwest Environmental Defense Fund filed a lawsuit against NOAA Fisheries on the basis that the federal government had not produced a Biological Opinion for the Willamette Basin.



    On July 11, 2008, the federal government issued a final BiOp for ESA-listed fish in the Willamette Basin. For more information about the Willamette Basin, visit the Corps of Engineers’ Portland District’s Willamette Valley projects website.


  • Willamette wildlife acquisitions and listed fish

    In November of 2010, BPA and the State of Oregon signed a landmark agreement to jointly protect nearly 20,000 acres of Willamette Basin wildlife habitat and provide multi-year benefits for fish. 


    The agreement permanently resolves the issue of wildlife mitigation for the dams.  At the same time, overall funding for fish habitat projects will also be increasing under the agreement.  Oregon will ensure that at least 10 percent of the project funding dollars from the agreement’s Willamette Wildlife Fund will provide habitat protection or restoration with significant fish benefits; i.e., have dual benefits for both wildlife and fish. The Fund can also be used to provide cost share dollars for additional protection or restoration projects available through U.S. Army Corps of Engineers programs.


    The new agreement does not change any of BPA’s obligations under the Willamette Biological Opinion.  While the BiOp does not specify a funding level or specific habitat projects, BPA will continue to invest between $500,000 and $800,000 per year in habitat improvements in the Willamette Basin specifically to help endangered fish.  The agreement has no effect on the investments that the Corps will make for fish passage and temperature control at the dams on the Willamette under the BiOp. 


    Historically, about half the wildlife projects funded in the Willamette Basin through the Northwest Power and Conservation Council’s Fish and Wildlife Program have had significant habitat benefits for fish.  One of the first properties to be acquired under the agreement – the 1,270 acres known as the Willamette Confluence Project at the confluence of the Middle and Coast forks – includes six miles of stream and more than 500 acres of floodplain habitat for chinook salmon.