the film

Good Returns Reveal Fish Protection

by Staff
BPA Journal, January 2011

Surface passage improvements for fish now in place at all federal dams on the Lower Columbia and Snake rivers boosted the safe migration of juvenile salmon and steelhead, one of several key advances outlined in a new federal assessment of progress in protecting Columbia and Snake river fish.

The passage improvements such as spillway weirs, also called fish slides, help speed young fish downstream past dams by keeping them near the water surface, where they naturally migrate. Installation of a spillway weir at Little Goose Dam on the Snake River last year means all eight federal Snake and Lower Columbia dams now provide surface passage. Tests at Little Goose found that 99.4 percent of yearling chinook, 99.8 percent of steelhead and 95.2 percent of sub-yearling chinook passed the dam safely.

"Almost all of the fish are coming through the dam safely now and we're on track to meet passage standards at all of the other projects," said Witt Anderson, Director of Programs, Northwest Division, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The results come from a new report describing the second year of progress by the Corps of Engineers, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and BPA in implementing NOAA-Fisheries' biological opinion for the Federal Columbia River Power System. The biological opinion outlines protections for fish affected by federal dams, promoting positive trends in salmon survival and returns. For instance, in-river survival of juvenile Snake River steelhead migrating to the ocean in 2009 reached its highest level in 12 years, a sign the fish are benefiting from improved surface passage.

Among other results in the report:

The biological opinion specifies performance standards for safe passage of juvenile fish past each federal dam. Tests so far indicate that results are on track to meet those standards through a combination of spill, surface passage improvements that increase the benefits of spill and other actions.

For more details, visit

Good Returns Reveal Fish Protection
BPA Journal, January 2011

See what you can learn

learn more on topics covered in the film
see the video
read the script
learn the songs
discussion forum
salmon animation