PORTLAND, Ore. – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers alerts boaters and other users of Foster Reservoir near Sweet Home, Ore., that the reservoir will be held near an elevation of 635 feet above sea level throughout the summer of 2013; about two feet lower than usual.
The Corps anticipates very little impact to recreation users. All boat ramps and Edgewater Marina will still be accessible. Linn County Parks will install extra dock sections at the Sunnyside and Lewis Creek moorages to extend them into deeper water. At all water levels, but especially when below normal, boaters should be aware of and watch carefully for underwater hazards.
This operation is part of a year-long study that will help the Corps determine how to better operate Foster Dam to improve the survival of spring Chinook, winter steelhead and other fish species in the South Santiam River Basin. The study will collect information about fish behavior, density and movement in the reservoir, and fish passage through the dam.
For many years the Corps has conducted a special operation at Foster Dam in April and May. Reservoir regulators hold the water level between 613 and 616 feet, allowing the surface water where juvenile steelhead usually swim to gently spill through a notched wall segment called a weir installed in one of the dam’s spillway bays.
However, recent Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife research in the South Santiam River shows that many juvenile fish – particularly steelhead – are migrating downriver outside of that April to May period. Corps juvenile passage tests in May 2012 also proved that fish can very successfully use the weir when the reservoir is at or near its usual summer elevation.
“We hope this study will give us a better sense of how we can best operate the dam to ensure those fish survive passing the dam as they journey to the sea, and return to the South Santiam Basin as adults in a few years,” said Corps fishery biologist Fenton Khan, who is leading the study. “We appreciate the understanding and support of the local community and reservoir users as we work to achieve that goal.”
Release no. 13-021