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Creating new homes for fish

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - A  schematic drawing shows the details of new log jam complexes that will be built at the North Fork Reservoir of the Clackamas River. Portland General Electric is working with the U.S. Forest Service and McBaine Consultants on the project.

There’s a new neighborhood being built in the Clackamas River’s North Fork Reservoir.

But the residents will be fish, not people.

To allow salmon and steelhead to better take advantage of the reservoir, Portland General Electric is building wooden complexes in its shallow locations, known as log jams.

“Salmon are like people,” said Tim Shibahara, a supervisor fish biologist at Portland General Electric. “They need shelter, and places to live.”

Shibahara said a team consisting of employees from Portland General Electric, McBaine Consultants and the U.S. Forest Service targeted the reservoir as the location for this project in order to make it more fish friendly. He noted that water levels at the reservoir are lower than in other parts of the river, making it difficult for fish to find shelter.

“Historically, the area isn’t well used by fish, but the complexes will help with that,” Shibahara said. “Because fish are always drawn to cover, (this project) will promote a lot of fish activity.”

The complexes will allow fish to take greater advantage of the reservoir and aid in fish passage and spawning.

“The fish will use the shelters to live, find food and avoid predators,” Shibahara added.

He estimated that a “very significant number” of fish will be affected.

“At least thousands will use the complexes,” he said.

The complexes will be 60 feet wide and range from 35 to 50 feet in height and be built from both large timber and smaller branches. The project will use approximately 300 logs.

To facilitate the project, the two PGE-operated boat ramps in the reservoir will be closed through approximately Monday, Oct. 24. The reservoir’s water levels will be lowered by about five feet, and the ramps are not designed to allow boater access at lower elevations.

Once the project is complete, Shibahara believes it will enhance the experience of recreationists at the North Fork Reservoir.

“It will give them great opportunities to view fish habitats up close,” he said.