Project Planning for Cougar Dam during 2010

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Cougar Dam is a 158 m-tall, rock fill dam located about 63 km east of Springfield, Oregon. Completed in 1963, the dam is owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). It impounds Cougar Reservoir, which is 9.7 km long, has a surface area of 518 ha, and is predominately used for flood control. The pool elevation typically ranges from a maximum conservation pool of 515 m (1,690 ft) National Geodetic Vertical Datum (NGVD) in summer to a minimum flood control elevation of 467 m (1,532 ft NGVD) in winter. The reservoir thermally stratifies in the summer, has an average depth of 37 m, and holds 153,500 acre-feet when full. Cougar Dam is located on the South Fork of the McKenzie River 7 km upstream from the mainstem McKenzie River, a tributary of the Willamette River. The McKenzie River Basin basin supports the largest remaining population of wild spawning spring Chinook salmon in the Willamette River Basin (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; NOAA, 2008). Cougar Dam and others were collectively deemed to cause jeopardy to the sustainability of anadromous fish stocks in the Willamette River Basin (NOAA, 2008). Prior to dam construction, as many as 805 redds were observed in the South Fork of the McKenzie River (Willis and others, 1960) and it is estimated that 40 km of spawning habitat were lost when access was blocked after dam construction. The 2008 Willamette Biological Opinion (BIOP) requires improvements to operations and structures to reduce impacts on Upper Willamette River (UWR) Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) and UWR steelhead (O. mykiss; NOAA, 2008). In 2010, an adult fish collection facility was completed below Cougar Dam to collect returning adult salmon for transport to spawning habitats above the dam. Before that time, returning adult spring Chinook salmon were transported to upstream spawning areas as part of a trap-and-haul program with adults passed ranging annually from 0 to 1,038 (Taylor, 2000). The progeny of adult fish that are allowed to spawn above Cougar Dam move downstream into Cougar Reservoir in the spring. Under the BIOP, the USACE is required to provide downstream fish passage or operational alternatives at Cougar Dam by 2014. Currently, there is little information about the seasonal timing of reservoir entry of juvenile Chinook salmon and what habitats they and other fishes use in the reservoir. However, rotary screw traps placed in the outlet channel below the dam indicate peak juvenile passage coinciding with seasonally low pool elevation in mid December and late January. It is unknown whether juveniles upstream of Cougar Dam can be captured in large enough numbers for tagging and subsequent survival studies to proceed. These studies are needed to examine the feasibility of installing downstream fish passage structures at Cougar Dam to meet BIOP requirements. Therefore, the USACE contracted with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to test the efficacy of using a mid-water trawl and lampara seine to capture fish in Cougar Reservoir on three consecutive days in the fall of 2010. These collection methods could potentially provide fish for feasibility and subsequent survival studies and as verification of fish targets in future active hydroacoustic surveys.

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Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Other Government Series
Title Project Planning for Cougar Dam during 2010
Year Published 2011
Publisher U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Publisher location Portland, OR
Contributing office(s) Western Fisheries Research Center
Description 11 p.
Country United States
State Oregon
Other Geospatial Cougar Dam
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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