Water Releases from Palisades Dam Improve Conditions for Native Fish

Media Contact: John Redding, (208) 378-5212
Chris Jansen Lute, (208) 378-5319

For Release: June 07, 2005

The Bureau of Reclamation will begin the second year of operations designed to benefit Yellowstone cutthroat trout by providing higher flows below Palisades Dam in mid-June. Palisades Dam is located on the Snake River about 70 miles east of Idaho Falls, Idaho.

The operations are based on a statistical analysis of flow and fish census data, completed in 2003, which found a relationship between seasonal flows on the South Fork and trout populations. The river level is expected to rise about 1.6 feet between June 10 and June 15. River recreationists should be prepared for changeable conditions more consistent with an unregulated river.

"The analysis discovered that higher springtime flows favored cutthroat reproduction over non-native rainbow trout," said Chris Ketchum, Reclamation Deputy Area Manager. "The research suggests that conditions for native fish are improved when the ratio of peak springtime flow to previous winter flow increases."

Flows from Palisades Dam have been running much lower than average due to the recent cool and wet weather. Small increases in flow will be made on June 10-11 to reach a near average flow on June 12. Flows will gradually increase to 15,000 cubic feet per second around June 15 and then decrease again.

"The distribution of storage in the upper Snake River system allows a limited opportunity to move water downstream when the higher flows are needed for native Yellowstone cutthroat trout. Ideally, flows would peak higher and last longer, but that might compromise our ability to meet system operating objectives, including obligations to contract space holders," Ketchum said.

"Working together with the many interests on the South Fork has allowed us to make the most out of an unusual water year, which brought us dry winter conditions followed by a very wet spring" said Chris Jansen Lute, Reclamation Water Resources Program Manager.

"Fishery managers, irrigators, environmental advocates and the fishing public have all demonstrated flexibility and provided their cooperation in support of this modified operation."

For current river and reservoir conditions visit www.usbr.gov/pn/hydromet. For more information on the operation of Palisades Dam and other upper Snake River reservoirs contact Chris Ketchum, Deputy Area Manager, Snake River Area Office, in Burley, Idaho, at (208) 678-0461, extension 34.

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