Outdoors

Clark Fork fish are using new passage past Thompson Falls Dam

Tony Incashola, director of the Salish-Pend d’Oreille Cultural Committee, was one of several dignitaries on hand for the dedication of a new fish ladder at the Thompson Falls Dam.  (Associated Press)
Tony Incashola, director of the Salish-Pend d’Oreille Cultural Committee, was one of several dignitaries on hand for the dedication of a new fish ladder at the Thompson Falls Dam. (Associated Press)

FISHERIES —  The new upstream fish ladder at the Thompson Falls Dam and hydropower project in Thompson Falls, Mont., has opened and apparently fish such as bull trout and rainbows have started moving freely past the structure since April.

The fish ladder was completed and dedicated last fall.

The report  comes from GEI Consultants Inc., the firm selected by PPL Montana to provide ecological and engineering services for the project. The story is published today at HydroWorld.com.  

The $7.5 million project
is designed to provide endangered bull trout and other fish varieties unhindered access to hundreds of miles of the upstream Clark Fork River and its tributaries.

Read on for more details.

The fishway is part of PPL Montana's federal operating license in compliance with the Endangered Species Act. The fish passage was dedicated in October, 2010, and after the spring thaw, passed its first fish, a 19-inch, 2.5-pound rainbow trout. The first two bull trout successfully passed through the ladder during April 2011.

The project was developed as a collaborative effort through an inter-agency, multi-disciplinary team composed of PPL Montana; the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks; Montana Department of Environmental Quality; the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes; GEI Consultants and others.

Thompson Falls Dam has a seven-unit hydroelectric plant. The units have a total generating capacity of 94 MW.




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Rich Landers

Rich Landers’ Outdoors blog


Rich Landers writes and photographs stories for a wide range of outdoors coverage, including a Sunday feature section and a Thursday column. He also writes the Outdoors Blog.


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