Partnership celebrates the restoration of Truckee River fish passage to historical spawning grounds

Construction of the nation’s largest horizontal fish screen is completed at Derby Dam, supporting recovery of threatened Lahontan Cutthroat Trout

Media Contact: Mary Lee Knecht, 916-978-5100, mknecht@usbr.gov
Joanna Gilkeson, 760-473-3954

For Release: September 30, 2020

Nation’s largest horizontal fish screen at Derby Dam
Nation’s largest horizontal fish screen at Derby Dam
SPARKS, Nev. – Today, the Bureau of Reclamation joined its partners, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Farmers Conservation Alliance, to celebrate the completion of the Derby Dam Fish Screen Project. The infrastructure modernization project at Derby Dam will provide Lahontan Cutthroat Trout access to natural spawning grounds for the first time since 1905.

The Derby Dam Fish Screen project supports fish movement along the Truckee River and provides access to important upstream habitat for threatened Lahontan Cutthroat Trout. It also provides benefits to agriculture, fishing and recreation in western Nevada. The construction phase of the project began in September 2019, and in all supported nearly 400 jobs over the past five years.

“Modernizing our infrastructure is a top priority for Reclamation,” said Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman. “Updating the 115-year old Derby Dam with the nation’s largest horizontal fish screen is especially exciting. Not only will the project provide new fish passage for the Lahontan cutthroat trout to reach native spawning grounds, it also provides new efficiencies for dam operations and deliveries--a true win-win. I know how meaningful this project is to the local community and our partners; we are pleased that all the pieces aligned so nicely to accommodate the completion of construction in one year's time. A big thank you and congratulations to all of our partners for achieving this great milestone.”

The Derby Dam Fish Screen is the result of two decades of concentrated efforts by Reclamation working with the Service’s Lahontan National Fish Hatchery Complex and Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe to restore connectivity for the threatened Lahontan Cutthroat Trout. The fish, once thought to be extinct, can now successfully move from Pyramid Lake, past Derby Dam, for spawning.

“The Service is thrilled to finally have the Derby Dam fish screen completed. The addition of this fish screen to the existing water infrastructure will allow the iconic Lahontan cutthroat trout to once again travel beyond the dam and complete its natural migration route for the first time in more than a century. Not only is this a significant step forward in the recovery of this species, but the passage of Lahontan cutthroat trout above Derby Dam will re-establish unique recreational angling opportunities in the Reno/Sparks area. I want to thank our partners, the Bureau of Reclamation, Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe and Farmers Conservation Alliance, for their commitment to making this fish screen a reality,” said Paul Souza, Pacific Southwest regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Reclamation entered into a cooperative agreement with Farmers Conservation Alliance to design, construct and commission a horizontal fish screen. The fish screen allows fish to safely pass around Derby Dam, accessing their historic habitat along much of the Truckee River.

“We’re excited about the completion of this Farmers Screen on the Derby Dam. This is our largest installation to date, and the 50th screen we have installed across seven western states,” said Julie O’Shea, executive director of Farmers Conservation Alliance. “However, we are the most proud of being a part of this amazing story. There have been so many individuals dedicated to this project. Seeing our technology help to realize the vision shared by Reclamation, the Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe to improve fish movement on the Truckee River is the reason we invented the screen in the first place. For a project of this size to be completed in just 12 months speaks to the dedication of not only our project team, but also on the ground partners like the Truckee-Carson Irrigation District.”

The construction of Derby Dam, completed in 1905, was one of the first projects of the newly formed U.S. Reclamation Service, now Bureau of Reclamation, organized under the Reclamation Act of 1902. Today, Reclamation oversees infrastructure that delivers water to more than 31 million people and provides one out of five western farmers with irrigation water for 10 million acres of farmland.

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