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Bush Aide to Visit Salmon Projects

by Erik Robinson, Staff Writer
The Columbian, January 22, 2004

President Bush's top environmental adviser will visit salmon-friendly projects at a pair of dams one huge, one relatively small in the Columbia River Gorge on Monday.

James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, will visit a new fish bypass chute at Bonneville Dam. He will also tour a newly reconstructed dam at Duncan Creek near the Skamania Landing subdivision five miles downriver from Bonneville.

As part of the trip, Connaughton will announce details of a proposed increase for Northwest salmon restoration in the budget Bush is expected to announce early next month. Connaughton will be joined by Conrad Lautenbacher, undersecretary of commerce and administrator of the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The two officials will highlight the completion of a $48 million corner collector at Bonneville, which is designed to improve survival of ocean-bound juvenile salmon by 1 percent to 3 percent. The 2,800-foot-long chute includes a high-banked concrete turn capable of smoothly carrying fish through the dam at a rate of 5,000 cubic feet of water per second a marginally safer journey than sending fish over spillways or through turbines.

At Duncan Creek near Skamania, property owners worked with state fishery experts to redesign a dam that had been in place since 1960. Although the old dam included a 120-foot-long culvert for salmon migration, scarcely one or two adult chum salmon managed to migrate the dark watery tunnel each year. The new dam, completed in 2001, includes a U-shaped channel that enables threatened chum salmon to easily migrate into and out of Duncan Creek during the fall, winter and spring. In the summer, after the salmon leave, the property owners drop the dam's gate to recreate a lake for their enjoyment. Property owners agreed to contribute $200,000 toward the $575,000 cost of the dam, with the balance coming from public and private grants.

Todd Hillson, a biologist for the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, said he figures the new dam will result in about 700 chum salmon returning to spawn annually. Besides creating the new dam, the Bonneville Power Administration contributed $486,000 for grading and placement of spawning gravel in old spring-fed streams feeding into Duncan Creek.

Erik Robinson, Staff Writer
Bush Aide to Visit Salmon Projects
The Columbian, January 22, 2004

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