Last week students from Parrott Creek Ranch Green Team found an unfortunate discovery at their adopted restoration site. Just 15 feet downstream from the dam on Rinearson Creek near the confluence with the Willamette River was a salmon carcass. We are awaiting word from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife for confirmation but we believe it is a spring Chinook. Spring Chinook begin their migration from April to May and begin to spawn in the fall.
The Rinearson Coalition is a team of nonprofits, concerned landowners, citizens and government agencies working together to determine the health of Rinearson Dam and are actively collecting data and information to make an informed decision regarding possible removal of this dam on Rinearson Creek.
The river and watershed restoration work that SOLV does can help the endangered salmon by improving their habitat. Salmon need cool, clean water, upland and riparian vegetation to stabilize the stream banks, adequate food, varied channels and large woody debris to provide hiding and resting places. SOLV helps meet these needs by removing invasive species and planting native trees to provide shade and cool the river or stream.
How bigger dams in the Willamette harm salmon populations from NOAA:
Today spring Chinook salmon and steelhead are listed on the federal Endangered Species Act. There are 13 dams in the Willamette and most do not include fish passages. The dams that do include fish passages are not very effective. The dams have not only blocked critical, historical salmon habitat upstream but they also contribute to the degradation of downstream habitat. Additionally, the trapping and transporting of the salmon when they are near the dams leads to high rates of prespawning mortality when the salmon die after finally reaching the tributary where they were planning on spawning. Some years as many as 90% of transported fish die.It is estimated that there were one million in 1900 and now less than 200,000 Lower Columbia River Coho exist. It is not only naturally spawned salmon that are endangered and suffering population declines in the Willamette. Currently the salmon from seven hatcheries are protected by the Endangered Species Act due to small populations.