EAS is in year three of supporting the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Walla Walla District, on the juvenile salmonid monitoring and transportation project that occurs at the Lower Snake River dams. Work is performed at Lower Granite, Little Goose, Lower Monumental, Ice Harbor, and McNary dams and includes examining juvenile salmonids during their outmigration from their natal rivers and streams out to the ocean, adult and juvenile fishway infrastructure inspections, and various reporting tasks. In addition to the tasks listed above, EAS also oversees a temperature monitoring program at McNary dam and generates both daily and weekly reports that are associated with the temperature monitoring activities.
Salmon and Steelhead have a unique life strategy which involves hatching and living in freshwater during the early stages of their life before heading out to the ocean to feed and mature. Once matured, typically after 3-5 years in saltwater, the fish return to their natal rivers and streams to spawn the next generation. EAS assists USACE by providing accurate and consistent assessments of the condition of outmigrating juvenile salmonids, which are then used to determine run size and facility collection totals and help ensure the fish transportation trucks and barges are not overloaded.
The salmonid species that are observed at the dams include yearling Chinook salmon, subyearling Chinook salmon, Coho salmon, Sockeye salmon, and steelhead trout. In addition to the salmonids, a number of different ‘incidental’ species are seen in the sample batches. ‘Incidental’ refers to non-target (non-salmonid) species that end up coming down the juvenile fishway system and end up in the samples. The most common incidental species observed are juvenile lamprey, bass, crappie, shad, mountain whitefish, and various sucker species.