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Effects of dam removal on Tule Fall Chinook salmon spawning habitat in the White Salmon River, Washington

River Research and Applications

By:
, , , , , , and
https://doi.org/10.1002/rra.2982

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Abstract

Condit Dam is one of the largest hydroelectric dams ever removed in the USA. Breached in a single explosive event in October 2011, hundreds-of-thousands of cubic metres of sediment washed down the White Salmon River onto spawning grounds of a threatened species, Columbia River tule fall Chinook salmon Oncorhynchus tshawytscha. We investigated over a 3-year period (2010–2012) how dam breaching affected channel morphology, river hydraulics, sediment composition and tule fall Chinook salmon (hereafter ‘tule salmon’) spawning habitat in the lower 1.7 km of the White Salmon River (project area). As expected, dam breaching dramatically affected channel morphology and spawning habitat due to a large load of sediment released from Northwestern Lake. Forty-two per cent of the project area that was previously covered in water was converted into islands or new shoreline, while a large pool near the mouth filled with sediments and a delta formed at the mouth. A two-dimensional hydrodynamic model revealed that pool area decreased 68.7% in the project area, while glides and riffles increased 659% and 530%, respectively. A spatially explicit habitat model found the mean probability of spawning habitat increased 46.2% after dam breaching due to an increase in glides and riffles. Shifting channels and bank instability continue to negatively affect some spawning habitat as sediments continue to wash downstream from former Northwestern Lake, but 300 m of new spawning habitat (river kilometre 0.6 to 0.9) that formed immediately post-breach has persisted into 2015. Less than 10% of tule salmon have spawned upstream of the former dam site to date, but the run sizes appear healthy and stable. Published 2015. This article is a U.S. Government work and is in the public domain in the USA.

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Additional publication details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Effects of dam removal on Tule Fall Chinook salmon spawning habitat in the White Salmon River, Washington
Series title:
River Research and Applications
DOI:
10.1002/rra.2982
Volume:
32
Issue:
7
Year Published:
2016
Language:
English
Publisher:
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Contributing office(s):
Western Fisheries Research Center
Description:
12 p.
First page:
1481
Last page:
1492
Country:
United States
State:
Washington
Other Geospatial:
Condit Dam, Lower White Salmon River
Online Only (Y/N):
N
Additional Online Files (Y/N):
N