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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

KLAMATH FALLS FWO: Relocating Fish in the Klamath

Region 8, July 22, 2014
Crew present for the North Ditch fish relocation included Christie Adelsberger (Klamath Basin Rangeland Trust), Julie Day (USFWS), Hoda Sondossi (USFWS), Norell Couper (volunteer), and Paul Landrum (landowner)
Crew present for the North Ditch fish relocation included Christie Adelsberger (Klamath Basin Rangeland Trust), Julie Day (USFWS), Hoda Sondossi (USFWS), Norell Couper (volunteer), and Paul Landrum (landowner) - Photo Credit: n/a
Fish relocation operation for the North Ditch project
Fish relocation operation for the North Ditch project - Photo Credit: n/a
Christie Adelsberger (Klamath Basin Rangeland Trust) and landowners Paul Landrum and Marie Ganong at the North Ditch fish relocation
Christie Adelsberger (Klamath Basin Rangeland Trust) and landowners Paul Landrum and Marie Ganong at the North Ditch fish relocation - Photo Credit: n/a

By Sue Mattenberger

Volunteers, landowners and individuals from several organizations worked together on July 15, to relocate fish from the North Ditch irrigation diversion in preparation for installation of a fish screen. The relocation is necessary so fish are not stranded during the dewatering phase of construction.

North Ditch is the largest diversion off of the Sprague River in the Upper Klamath Basin, with 40 to 60 cfs diverted during irrigation season, resulting in removal of most of the river water and many of the fish. The new fish screen will prevent fish from entering the diversion channel. The ditch, originally constructed in the late 1800s, is on U.S. Forest Service land in the North Fork Sprague River near Bly, Oregon.

Armed with electrofishing equipment, nets and buckets, two crews were able to relocate several hundred trout, lamprey and sculpin out of the construction area and back to the river.

One landowner said, “We are very happy to help the fishery here, and we appreciate everybody’s effort.”

“This is the best thing I could be doing!” said another volunteer who was delighted to be involved.

The electrofishing unit applies a charge to the water which stuns the fish just enough to allow nimble hands to net them and place them in a bucket of cool water. The bucket is kept in the water to maintain low temperatures, and an aerator keeps the water oxygenated. The buckets are transferred to the river frequently to reduce stress on the aquatic species.

The crews worked through approximately one mile of the ditch near the diversion. Crews represented volunteers, landowners, the Klamath Basin Rangeland Trust, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Fremont-Winema National Forest. It was a hot and tiring day of hard work, but well worth it.

Sue Mattenberger is a restoration biologist at the Klamath Falls Fish and Wildlife Office in Oregon.

Contact Info: Dan Blake, 541-885-2512, daniel_blake@fws.gov