“It’s a complete anomaly”
Biologists with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife have never seen water levels this high at Applegate Lake.
“It’s definitely highest amount of water coming into the reservoir that we’ve seen since it’s been closed since the early 80s.”
Though the high water level is good for the reservoir, it isn’t ideal for Chinook salmon that are at the start of spawning season.
“You need to make sure you have enough water to release during the entire incubation period to cover those reds, otherwise they just dry up if they’re outside of the river channel.”
The water release was meant to trick the salmon into stopping spawning while the river is high.
“It somewhat mimics the pre-dam natural response of rivers to a large storm event, where the storm comes in, and puts a bunch of water into the river really quickly, and then recedes really quickly.”
The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers run the Applegate Dam.
Though releases into the river are common, the one this past weekend was 10 times the amount of water they usually release.