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Uniquely Designed Fish Ladder Will Help Lamprey

Doc Slyter
Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians

Construction is wrapping up on a special fish ladder at Eel Creek north of Coos Bay.  As KLCC’s Brian Bull explains, it’s to help the regional lamprey population rebound.

Credit Brian Bull / KLCC
Gary Vonderohe of the Oregon Dept of Fish & Wildlife, near Eel Creek in southwestern Oregon.

Gary Vonderohe of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife says his agency, the Tenmile Lakes Basin Partnership, and the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians teamed up to install the device. Its purpose is to help lampreys navigate waterways better.

Vonderohe says there is already a fish ladder at the base of Eel Lake, but it’s designed for salmon and steelhead.

“And lamprey have hard time going over any 90 degree corners, and that ladder’s full of 90 degree corners," explains Vonderohe. "So the ODFW has designed a ladder that will hang off the wall, and the lamprey will kinda climb vertically, and at the top there’ll be a rounded corner and hopefully get them up and going into the spawning grounds above the lake.”

Credit Dave Herasimtschuk, Fresh Waters Illustrated / USFWS Pacific Region, Flickr.com
USFWS Pacific Region, Flickr.com
A radio-tagged Pacific Lamprey rests on bedrock substrate

Vonderohe says the tribes kicked in $45,000 dollars towards the lamprey ladder, with some extra engineering work and materials provided by ODFW.

Lamprey numbers are down significantly from half a century ago. One Oregon State University estimate says they’re at 5 to 10 percent of what they were in the 1960s. 

Copyright 2018, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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