Columbia River

Rowan Moore Gerety / Northwest Public Radio

Salmon are a touchstone in the Northwest...in food, in nature, and now, in the damage wrought by the ongoing drought: less than half of returning Sockeye are expected to survive to the end of summer. But another important fish is dying in unprecedented numbers too: the massive white sturgeon native to the Columbia River.

gettyimages.com

Several dying and dead salmon were found in the Deschutes and Columbia rivers. The Oregon department of Fish and Wildlife says a bacterial infection is the cause.

Fish biologist Rob French with ODFW says dead fish were collected from the lower three miles of the Deschutes. He says the bacterial infection columnaris is typically associated with warm water and low oxygen conditions.

French: “It’s not uncommon for the Columbia to get to these temperatures. What’s most uncommon is how early in the year they got to these temperatures. Same for the Deschutes River.”

Theresa Tilson / Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife

A record number of sea lions have been feeding in the Columbia River this spring. A lack of food in the ocean and a big run of smelt drew them in. And now they’re eating salmon. That has a lot of people debating the best way to manage these hulking pinnipeds. While some are shooting at them, and arguing for their lethal removal, others are rushing to their defense.
 

In Astoria's East Mooring Basin, big blubbery sea lions have taken over the docks that are supposed to harbor boats. Bill Hunsinger oversees those docks as a commissioner with the Port of Astoria.

Confluenceproject.org

Artist and architect Maya Lin will give a free lecture at the University of Oregon on Thursday, Nov. 20. Lin will discuss her two newest projects in the Northwest involving outdoor installations.

The Confluence Project stretches 438 miles along the Columbia River in Washington and Oregon. It’s comprised of six outdoor installations that began in 2005 and will be complete in 2017.

Confluence Executive Director Colin Fogarty says native leaders and elders from Columbia River tribes asked Maya Lin to do the project.
 

Anna King

The Columbia River will remain drawn down at least until June because of the cracked Wanapum Dam in southeast Washington. That means fish can’t reach their traditional ladders. Engineers are working on a fix. But this week, hundreds of Chinook salmon are being rounded up and loaded into tanker trucks to hitch a ride around the problem.

Anna King

A situation on the Columbia River is rapidly unfolding with the damaged Wanapum Dam near Vantage, in Central Washington. Teams of engineers are scrambling to figure out what’s gone wrong with part of Wanapum’s spillway structure. Correspondent Anna King winded her way up the Columbia River to the dam, and files this investigative report.

Creating A Northwest Lamprey Hatchery

Dec 27, 2013
Courtney Flatt

Pacific lamprey numbers are quickly declining throughout Northwestern waters. Tribal elders remember times when the Columbia River was black with the eel-like fish.

Now, Northwest researchers are trying to develop a lamprey hatchery – the first of its kind in the world. But, there are challenges ahead.

Pacific lampreys were once a major staple in Northwest tribes’ diets. The oils were a source of vitamins. Babies used lamprey tails as teething rings.

Now, as numbers decline, lamprey only make it to the table during ceremonies or special occasions.