Lake level held down for maintenance on dam

The boat launch at Crescent Bay on Lake Roosevelt is currently high and dry, but Spring Canyon and up to 11 of 22 launches in the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area still reach the water. Spring Canyon, the lowest reaching launch, goes down to elevation 1,222.
The boat launch at Crescent Bay on Lake Roosevelt is currently high and dry, but Spring Canyon and up to 11 of 22 launches in the Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area still reach the water. Spring Canyon, the lowest reaching launch, goes down to elevation 1,222.

Lake Roosevelt is being held at a level about 47 feet below the full mark while maintnenace is completed on the drum gates that hold the water back when the lake is full.

The Bureau of Reclamation, which operates Grand Coulee Dam, reports the lake will likely remain below 1,255 feet above sea level until May 10.

The water forecast for the Columbia River drainage above Grand Coulee Dam, from April to August this year, is estimated to 82.5 percent of normal, so the maximum level allowed for flood control right now would actually be 1,283.3 feet, less than 7 feet below spilling over.

But such flood control elevations are the maximum elevations allowed to ensure enough room in the lake for the spring runoff. Actual elevations may be lower “based on power demand, unforeseen power emergencies, changes in weather events, maintenance on the dam, etc,” the bureau explains on its website.

Army Corps to lower water level at Rufus Woods April 11-12

Fishing on Lake Rufus Woods
Anglers ply the waters of Lake Rufus Woods, behind Chief Joseph Dam in this 2010 photo

 

SEATTLE – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is lowering the reservoir water level upstream of Chief Joseph Dam by 1.5-2.5 feet below normal pool this weekend, but the Seaton’s Grove boat launch will remain open.

Water managers expect that work scheduled for April 11-12, to prepare for a bank stabilization project, will lower Lake Rufus Woods from its normal low-pool level of 950 feet above sea level to a lower elevation between 947.5-948.5 feet.

The project will eventually address erosion problems by placing bank-stabilizing rock armor and native plantings along 700 feet of shoreline on the Columbia River’s northeastern bank downstream of Seaton’s Grove boat ramp.

To prepare the site for construction, the waterline is being lowered this weekend for an inspection of conditions, and to remove vegetation and other obstructions that could impact bank protection integrity.

Water levels are expected to return to normal April 13.

A Corps spokesman said he didn’t know when the actual construction work would take place or how long it would take.

When complete, the structure will provide protection against reservoir erosive forces, the Corps stated in a press release Friday.

The Corps said that throughout the planning process it coordinated with the Environmental Protection Agency, Bureau of Reclamation, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Washington Department of Ecology, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife.

What a view!

A lucky dog sniffs a great view. Ed Grenier (@roscoejefferson) photo
A lucky dog sniffs a great view. Ed Grenier (@roscoejefferson) photo

Here’s another fine use of Instagram: highlighting the great hikes the Grand Coulee Dam area offers. This shot is of a very happy dog on top of Steamboat Rock, out in the midst of Banks Lake at the Steamboat Rock State Park. It’s a hunk of earth that didn’t wash away in the series of catastrophic floods that carved the Grand Coulee at the end the last ice age.

So standing atop the rock, about 800 feet above the floor of the Grand Coulee, you can imagine the torrents that flowed through the area thousands of years ago, leaving this dramatic landscape.

The dog may not get that, but he certainly enjoys it anyway.

You might fish for salmon here someday, not just silvers

Between a renewed push for re-introducing salmon to the Columbia River above Grand Coulee Dam and a newly developing technology, a consortium of tribes is hopeful that somehow, there will be a way to bring salmon back.

The icon of the Pacific Northwest has been gone from the upper reaches of the Columbia since the building of Grand Coulee Dam. Now they’re actually stopped at Chief Joseph Dam, more than 50 miles downriver.

But a treaty may open for negotiations between the United States and Canada that dictates exchanges of water and electricity and infrastructure provided. And the Upper Columbia United Tribes is hopeful, along with the Colville Confederated Tribes, that a way for cheap transport may have been discovered by company touting its “salmon canon.” Picture a kinder, gentler form of the same kind of suction tube that takes your deposit at a drive-up bank.

Whooshh Innovations, of Bellevue, Washington, has more information about adapting their fruit moving technology, to help solve the problem of letting fish move upstream. Below is a video that demonstrates the innovation. The company has lots more on its website, which was even recently featured in a segment on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

Although a way may be found to move salmon upstream over huge dams, that may actually be the easier part of the problem to solve. After hatching, the young salmon have to get back to the ocean. They only swim upstream, so they have to be pushed by a considerable current, which is not present in Lake Roosevelt above Grand Coulee Dam.

But the salmon canon idea is still fun to watch:

 

Image of a chinook salmon by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service used under Creative Commons license.

Lake Roosevelt level is dropping

The flood control level needed for Lake Roosevelt is set in the blue triangles for 2015, compared to the 2014 history depicted by the pink dotted line. -- USBR graph
The flood control level needed for Lake Roosevelt is set in the blue triangles for 2015, compared to the 2014 history depicted by the pink dotted line. — USBR graph

The level of Lake Roosevelt has already dropped to to a level not predicted until March, in a forecast put out in mid-January, 2015.

On Friday, Jan. 30, the lake surface was at about 1,276 feet above sea level, which will put out of reach several boat launches on the lake, but certainly not all. (See the list below).
The deepest access is offered at the Spring Canyon launch near Grand Coulee.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, which operates Grand Coulee Dam, which controls the lake, had published an estimate of the lake level drop this year showing a flood control schedule that would have still held the level at full pool until the end of February and eventually dropping to about 1,243 in April, not as far down as in 2014. But factors including weather and power demand can be hard to predict.

MINIMUM BOAT LAUNCH ELEVATIONS
Crescent Bay 1265′
Spring Canyon 1222′
Keller Ferry 1229′
Hansen Harbor 1253′
Jones Bay 1266′
Lincoln Mill 1245′
Hawk Creek 1281′
Seven Bays 1227′
Fort Spokane 1247′
Porcupine Bay 1243′
Hunters Camp 1230′
Gifford 1249′
Daisy 1265′
Bradbury Beach 1251′
Kettle Falls 1234′
Marcus Island 1281′
Evans 1280′
North Gorge 1280′
Snag Cove 1277′
French Rocks 1265′
Napoleon Bridge 1280′
China Bend 1277′

Helicopter capture of Lincoln area bighorn sheep scheduled Feb. 10

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) staff will be working to capture bighorn sheep from the Lincoln Cliffs herd in northern Lincoln County on Tuesday, Feb. 10, weather permitting, with a helicopter contractor.

One of the less well-known features of the area is that these big game animals live near Lake Roosevelt in the cliffs of the Lincoln area, north of Creston.

Up to 20 bighorn sheep will be ear-tagged and nine equipped with GPS tracking collars, then released so biologists can better monitor their movements, productivity, and survival, wildlife biologist Carrie Lowe said.

The sheep will be captured with nets shot from the helicopter, then moved to a staging area for handling by a ground crew. Information about each captured animal, including sex, age, and condition, plus blood samples for tracking disease, will be taken before release.

Lowe notes that the department is in the process of securing permission to access private land in the Lincoln and Whitestone Rock areas near the Lake Roosevelt shoreline for the work.

Bighorn sheep areas in Washington (WDFW).
Bighorn sheep areas in Washington (WDFW).

 

Top image: Bighorn on the shores of Lake Roosevelt. Photo by Beth Goetz

People are amazed, and here’s a video to show why

People are constantly amazed by the size of the dam and the achievement of building it.
People are constantly amazed by the size of the dam and the achievement of building it.

Visitors using Instagram are always posting how amazed they are when they see Grand Coulee Dam.

“It amazes me how humans built this large, amazing structure more than 80 years ago!” wrote @lishlo this morning in a public post.

The Bureau of Reclamation has produced a top quality documentary on the building of Grand Coulee Dam to show you the amazing story behind the immense effort, the big thinking, innovation and, yes, even politics it took. If you want to visit it, you’ll appreciate it even more if you understand the whole story, so we’ll post the video here, which you can also watch on a big screen in comfortable seats at the Visitor Center when you get here.

Fall into fun at the Harvest Festival Sept. 12-14

Harvest Fest Hay Ride
Hay wagon rides are a big hit at the Harvest Festival

Here’s a quick bit on the upcoming Harvest Festival you can send on to your friends and relatives.

The Third Annual Harvest Festival, Sept. 12-14, at North Dam Park, is a fun festival for the entire family and a good way to polish off what has been a great summer.

And it’s free!

Always wanted to take a helicopter ride? You can do it at this year’s Harvest Festival, at a nominal price. Soar through the sky and look down on the things you’ve seen all year long, except from a different vantage point. Rides are available from 11 a.m. to dusk on Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

Get on a hay wagon and relive those early days when the horse drawn wagon was a common mode of transportation. You can Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at North Dam Park.

Can you bake a berry pie? There’s competition in the berry and apple pie-baking event. Judging will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday in the picnic area with winners announced at 2 p.m. Bring two pies, one for judging and the second for a pie raffle.

One of the featured events is the barbecue competition. This is serious stuff for barbecue enthusiasts and some of the best in the Pacific Northwest are head our way.

Luckily for them, we also have an excellent beer garden planned, featuring brews from one of our favorite Washington state microbreweries, Iron Horse Brewery. Among the brews featured: High Five Heffe, 509 Style, and, of course, Irish Death. (That last one is so smooth and not bitter, for a dark beer, that you’re tempted not to take it seriously, a mistake at least one ex-sailor I know won’t repeat.) For those of you not into such craft beers, and there are a lot of you, the beer garden will also be stocked with Bud Light.

That’s Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Judging and the awards ceremony begin at 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Samples will be available for purchase. The BBQ event is in conjunction with the Pacific Northwest Barbecue Association. Ribbons and trophies will be given and there are some $3,500 worth of cash prizes. The chamber of commerce, organizer of the festival, has info and a signup sheet here.

 

Colville Tribe stocks Rufus Woods with thousands of fish 

 

Rainbow Trout
A tribal member displays a rainbow raised in net pens on the reservation in Lake Rufus Woods on the Columbia River

Staff from the Colville Tribes Resident Fish (CTRF) program released approximately 5,700 “triploid” rainbow trout ranging from two to three pounds each into Lake Rufus Woods July 31.

The fish, which can be identified by the absence of the adipose fin, are part of a supplementation effort of the Rufus Woods Net Pen Project, which the program’s staff oversees. The CTRF program purchases these fish from a local commercial aquaculture facility. Since 2011, some 118,100 triploid rainbow trout have been released into Lake Rufus Woods. Approximately 48,000 will be released this year alone.

“Normally, fish are diploid and have two sets of chromosomes (one from each parent),” Hatchery Manager Jill Phillips said, explaining the word triploid. “When a treatment of heat or pressure is applied to a fertilized egg prior to a certain egg development stage, the results are triploid or three chromosomes within the cell.”

She said, “Triploid rainbow trout females do not develop eggs. Male triploid rainbow trout sperm is not viable. Basically, both sexes are sterile. Utilizing triploid rainbow trout to supplement fisheries allow managers to mitigate impacts on native fish species.”

“Our overall goal of the CTRF program is to provide a subsistence and recreational fishery on Lake Rufus Woods which remains a popular fishing attraction,” said Bret Nine, resident fisheries manager for CTFW.

Triploid trout have three chromosomes instead of two, which means they can't reproduce. That way, the planted fish that sportsman love can't hurt the native species.
Triploid trout have three chromosomes instead of two, which means they can’t reproduce. That way, the planted fish that sportsman love can’t hurt the native species.

All non-members fishing by boat on the boundary waters of the Colville Indian Reservation or from the shore of Lake Rufus Woods at a Designated Fishing Area must have either a valid Colville Indian Reservation Fishing Permit, or a valid fishing license issued by the state of Washington, a tribal press release states. Tribal members must possess a Colville tribal identification card, which is a legal permit to fish.

 

 

 

Great things to do at Spring Canyon this weekend

canoe-tourIMG_4955

Saturday August 2, 2014
3:30-4:00pm Birds and Beaks
Join Ranger Deb in the day-use area in front of the Spring Canyon Exploration Center Building and learn about why birds have their particular beaks.
30 minutes.
6:00pm Bunchgrass Prairie Nature Trail Plant Walk.
Join Ranger Deb on a ½ mile walk on the Bunchgrass Prairie Nature Trail in the campground at Spring Canyon. We will be talking about the areas native plants and also learning about some invasive plants and their roles in the ecosystem. Please meet at the trailhead.
45-60 minutes.
 Please bring water and apply sunscreen.
 This is a very active bee and wasp area. Please, no bare feet and have epinephrine if highly allergic.
Sunday August 3, 2014
9:30am Crescent Bay Canoe Trip
Join Ranger Deborah for a free canoe trip exploring the wonders of Crescent Bay Lake. We
supply the canoes, paddles, life jackets and instruction. Beginners are welcome but an adult must
accompany children under 16.
 The trip is limited to 17-19 people, so reservations are strongly encouraged. Please make your reservations in person at the Spring Canyon Exploration Center on Saturday August 2, 2014 between 1:30-3:30.
 You must have your own transportation for the 10 minute drive to Crescent Bay Lake.
 Bring water. No water=No Go.
 Approximately 2 ½ hours, including drive time.

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The First Place to Look to Plan Your Trip to the Grand Coulee Dam Area

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