Effects of Hydroelectric Dam Operations on the Restoration Potential of Snake River Fall Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) Spawning Habitat Final Report, October 2005 - September 2007.

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This report describes research conducted by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) as part of the Fish and Wildlife Program directed by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. The study evaluated the restoration potential of Snake River fall Chinook salmon spawning habitat within the impounded lower Snake River. The objective of the research was to determine if hydroelectric dam operations could be modified, within existing system constraints (e.g., minimum to normal pool levels; without partial removal of a dam structure), to increase the amount of available fall Chinook salmon spawning habitat in the lower Snake ... continued below

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199 pages

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Hanrahan, Timothy P.; Richmond, Marshall C. & Arntzen, Evan V. November 13, 2007.

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Description

This report describes research conducted by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) as part of the Fish and Wildlife Program directed by the Northwest Power and Conservation Council. The study evaluated the restoration potential of Snake River fall Chinook salmon spawning habitat within the impounded lower Snake River. The objective of the research was to determine if hydroelectric dam operations could be modified, within existing system constraints (e.g., minimum to normal pool levels; without partial removal of a dam structure), to increase the amount of available fall Chinook salmon spawning habitat in the lower Snake River. Empirical and modeled physical habitat data were used to compare potential fall Chinook salmon spawning habitat in the Snake River, under current and modified dam operations, with the analogous physical characteristics of an existing fall Chinook salmon spawning area in the Columbia River. The two Snake River study areas included the Ice Harbor Dam tailrace downstream to the Highway 12 bridge and the Lower Granite Dam tailrace downstream approximately 12 river kilometers. These areas represent tailwater habitat (i.e., riverine segments extending from a dam downstream to the backwater influence from the next dam downstream). We used a reference site, indicative of current fall Chinook salmon spawning areas in tailwater habitat, against which to compare the physical characteristics of each study site. The reference site for tailwater habitats was the section extending downstream from the Wanapum Dam tailrace on the Columbia River. Fall Chinook salmon spawning habitat use data, including water depth, velocity, substrate size and channelbed slope, from the Wanapum reference area were used to define spawning habitat suitability based on these variables. Fall Chinook salmon spawning habitat suitability of the Snake River study areas was estimated by applying the Wanapum reference reach habitat suitability criteria to measured and modeled habitat data from the Snake River study areas. Channel morphology data from the Wanapum reference reach and the Snake River study areas were evaluated to identify geomorphically suitable fall Chinook salmon spawning habitat. The results of this study indicate that a majority of the Ice Harbor and Lower Granite study areas contain suitable fall Chinook salmon spawning habitat under existing hydrosystem operations. However, a large majority of the currently available fall Chinook salmon spawning habitat in the Ice Harbor and Lower Granite study areas is of low quality. The potential for increasing, through modifications to hydrosystem operations (i.e., minimum pool elevation of the next downstream dam), the quantity or quality of fall Chinook salmon spawning habitat appears to be limited. Estimates of the amount of potential fall Chinook salmon spawning habitat in the Ice Harbor study area decreased as the McNary Dam forebay elevation was lowered from normal to minimum pool elevation. Estimates of the amount of potential fall Chinook salmon spawning habitat in the Lower Granite study area increased as the Little Goose Dam forebay elevation was lowered from normal to minimum pool elevation; however, 97% of the available habitat was categorized within the range of lowest quality. In both the Ice Harbor and Lower Granite study areas, water velocity appears to be more of a limiting factor than water depth for fall Chinook salmon spawning habitat, with both study areas dominated by low-magnitude water velocity. The geomorphic suitability of both study areas appears to be compromised for fall Chinook salmon spawning habitat, with the Ice Harbor study area lacking significant bedforms along the longitudinal thalweg profile and the Lower Granite study area lacking cross-sectional topographic diversity. To increase the quantity of available fall Chinook salmon spawning habitat in the Ice Harbor and Lower Granite study area, modifications to hydroelectric dam operations beyond those evaluated in this study likely would be necessary. Modifications may include operational and structural changes, such as lowering downstream dam forebay elevations to less than minimum pool. There is a large amount of uncertainty as to whether or not such modifications could increase the quantity of available fall Chinook salmon spawning habitat in the Ice Harbor and Lower Granite study area. The results from this study provide some certainty that the quantity and quality of fall Chinook salmon spawning habitat within the lower Snake River are not likely to be increased within the existing hydroelectric dam operations.

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199 pages

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  • Related Information: document dated September 2007

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  • Report No.: P104437
  • Grant Number: 652 REL 31
  • DOI: 10.2172/961993 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 961993
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc934280

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  • November 13, 2007

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  • Nov. 13, 2016, 7:26 p.m.

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  • Dec. 5, 2016, 2:42 p.m.

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Hanrahan, Timothy P.; Richmond, Marshall C. & Arntzen, Evan V. Effects of Hydroelectric Dam Operations on the Restoration Potential of Snake River Fall Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) Spawning Habitat Final Report, October 2005 - September 2007., report, November 13, 2007; Portland, Oregon. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc934280/: accessed November 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.