Dams have brought jobs, power, irrigation and development to the Pacific Northwest, but devastated migrating fish populations. Dam operators’ responses have not succeeded in reversing the declines. But last spring, at the Upper Baker Dam on the Baker River near Concrete,Wash., Puget Sound Energy Inc., Bellevue,Wash., completed a collector system that captured 90% to 95% of the sockeye salmon migrating downstream, four years earlier than it had expected to reach that goal.
As PSE’s manager of compliance and resource sciences, Cary Feldmann supplied the institutional memory and the insights from 30 years of work with the earlier versions of the “gulper” and with the many stakeholders whose needs had to be accommodated as PSE developed the new collector. The project’s success has drawn attention from dam operators throughout the West, many of whom have visited it to see for themselves.