Local inventor

by: Photo by Paul Jensen - The Jensen fish bypass system has now been patented.

   Madras resident Paul Jensen now has a patented solution for the millions of fish migration barriers in the U.S.
   Last week, Jensen received notice that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office had issued a patent on Sept. 11 for his fish bypass system.
   "I think it's kind of cool," said Jensen. "A patent is a tool that gives you protection against somebody copying it and marketing it; it's a feather in a person's hat."
   Jensen, who had originally hoped to develop and market the system himself, is engaged in negotiations with "a company back East to manufacture and install the systems."
   "Though I am in discussions with a group in Massachusetts, I am also attempting to develop a manufacturing base in Jefferson County," he said.
   "This is a pretty big project in the end run; it's not something anyone's going to take lightly," said Jensen, who doesn't expect a project to proceed until late winter or early spring.
   Jensen sees many uses for his system. "According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife, there are 2 1/2 million barriers to fish migration in the United States alone," he said. "That doesn't include other countries."
   In the Jensen system, which sits in the pool behind a dam -- not in a turbine channel -- a funnel, supported by buoys draws fish in. Fish avoid the turbine power tunnel, and exit below the dam.
   Jensen began thinking about the system in 2003, and had a working model by 2006. "On Feb. 12, 2007, I camcordered operating it using guppies as my test model," he said, noting that he had a 100 percent success rate.
   After his success with the small model, he made a larger model with assistance from Deschutes Valley Water District, and successfully tested the system. Later, he tested the system again with the National Marine Fisheries, and at a Canadian nuclear reactor. In all cases, the system worked as intended.
   Expressing his appreciation for assistance from the Jefferson County Commission and Jefferson County Development Corp., Jensen said that they had "helped support my project during some very rough times."
   The patent information notes that there is "a continuing and unmet need for a simple and low maintenance device and method allowing for the elevational transport of fish and other aquatic life, from higher level waters above a hydroelectric dam or other manmade obstruction, to the lower elevation waters downstream."
   The device was designed so that it would not scare the fish, causing them to avoid the passage, and would safely use natural currents.
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