Rocky Point, Ore. – An Oregon Tech solar project hopes to literally breathe new life into an endangered species on Upper Klamath Lake.
The project is aimed at restoring numbers of endangered sucker fish.
The suckers aren’t making it to child-rearing age – and no one knows exactly why.
“Very few to none have recruited for the last 20 years.” Notes Professor Mason Terry of Oregon Tech. “So the species is dying off.”
Floating, solar powered pumps could be the key to sucker recovery.
“To pump air down to the bottom of the lake, to try and increase the oxygen levels so fish don’t die.” Explains Assistant Lab Manager Ian Riley.
Professor Terry came up with the concept following November’s ‘Sucker Summit’ hosted by Senator Jeff Merkley.
The system is similar to what you may have in your aquarium.
“The aerator is essentially the same thing.” Terry notes. “Just, these are bigger.”
The $4000 prototypes are the first floating solar projects in Oregon.
“We’ve been working closely with the Klamath Tribes.” Says Lead Design Engineer Jennifer Berdyugin. “They’re kind of the ones who brought us this problem. Then, as an engineer, we’re just problem solvers.”
The solar arrays will be anchored in the Pelican Bay area on the north side of the lake.
“We’re going to have 6 feet of tubing, and then we’re going to have 5 more feet of aerator tubing to disperse the oxygen.” Explains Riley.
Biologists will be monitoring the results.
“If it proves positive, then we will expand the whole thing.” Professor Terry stated.
Other efforts to boost sucker numbers include development of fish hatcheries, and netting systems on Upper Klamath Lake to help protect released fish.
KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970’s. He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.Lyle’s job history is quite colorful.
He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand. A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90’s as a news writer and commercial producer. In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience.
“The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain. Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story”.
When he’s not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.