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Deschutes River Alliance Press Release

Joel La Follette - Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Press Release
For Immediate Release: July 6, 2015
Fish Die of Heat Exposure in Lower Deschutes River
Numerous sockeye salmon were discovered this past weekend in shallow water along the banks of the lower Deschutes River near Rattlesnake Rapid. The fish, discovered by retired Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist Steve Pribyl, were suffering from obvious signs of heat stress.
According to Pribyl, who is also a board member of the Deschutes River Alliance,  the fish were washing ashore on the west bank of the river where he was hiking, so the fish he saw only represented a small portion of a much larger fatal event. In a short distance of the west bank, thirteen fish were seen to be either stressed to near death, or already dead.

Lower than normal flows and higher than normal daytime temperatures have contributed to high water temperatures (as high as 74+ degrees) in the lower
river. Portland General Electric and The Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation, owners of the Pelton-Round Butte Dam Complex, are continuing current practices at the dams by drawing primarily warm surface water from Lake Billy Chinook, instead of cooler bottom water. The control over temperatures is achieved by using the Selective Water Withdrawal Tower at Round Butte Dam.

As summer has only now just begun, Deschutes River Alliance members and other experienced users of the river believe that if current dam water release practices continue, fish kills will increase, raising further difficulty for already challenged runs of our salmon and steelhead.

For further information:
Or call:
Greg McMillan
Director, Science and Conservation Deschutes River Alliance 541-410-9626
Steve Pribyl Director
Deschutes River Alliance 541-980-9710
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