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Osage River Lock Dam #1 Report Completed
Midwest Region, January 25, 2012
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Josh Hundley, Columbia Ecological Services, gently releases a pallid sturgeon captured at L&D#1 on the Osage River.
Josh Hundley, Columbia Ecological Services, gently releases a pallid sturgeon captured at L&D#1 on the Osage River. - Photo Credit: Aaron Walker, USFWS
Locations of pallid sturgeon and hybrid sturgeon captured during our study.  Satellite imagery from 2006 was used to accentuate the proximity of captures relative to L&D#1.
Locations of pallid sturgeon and hybrid sturgeon captured during our study. Satellite imagery from 2006 was used to accentuate the proximity of captures relative to L&D#1. - Photo Credit: Map created by Josh Hundley, USFWS, Ecological Services

The Osage River, a major tributary to the Missouri River, contains three dams and two large reservoirs. This highly modified river has important environmental, recreational and economic benefits to the State of Missouri. In 2010, Columbia FWCO and Columbia Ecological Services Field Office began a two-year study on the lower Osage River to assess if the federally endangered pallid sturgeon use the river and to determine if Lock & Dam #1 (L&D#1) creates a fish passage barrier. The report summarizing our efforts is complete and has been submitted to the Columbia ES Field Office.

In 2010, four weeks of sampling with trotlines through April and May resulted in the capture of three pallid sturgeon and one pallid x shovelnose sturgeon hybrid near the base of the dam. Other species of note captured during 2010 sampling included 638 shovelnose sturgeon, 30 state endangered lake sturgeon and even two American eel. Sampling efforts continued in April and May 2011 and resulted in nine pallid sturgeon and two hybrids being captured at the base of the L&D#1. Notably, six of the nine (66%) pallid sturgeon captured at L&D#1 were unmarked and presumed wild. For comparison, only 19% of pallid sturgeon captured from the mainstem Missouri River (adjacent to the Osage River confluence) from 2003 – 2009 were unmarked. We also captured 389 shovelnose, of which 15 were recaptured from other studies, as well as 16 lake sturgeon. Most importantly, a hatchery stocked pallid sturgeon was captured above L&D#1at river mile 16.7. Interestingly, hatchery records suggest that this fish was stocked in 2007 in the South Dakota portion of the Missouri River at river mile 845, meaning that this fish passed through Gavin’s Point Dam, downstream to the mouth of the Osage River, and up the Osage River past L&D#1 for a total journey of 732 miles!

There is little doubt that pallid sturgeon are utilizing the lower Osage River. The unusually high number of wild, hybrid and unmarked pallid sturgeon utilizing the Osage River may indicate the importance of the tributary for food, refugia or historical spawning areas by wild pallid sturgeon. We also determined that L&D#1 is at times passible. It is likely that at certain flows the dam is a barrier not only to fish but to all aquatic organisms. More sampling will be necessary above the dam and below the dam to fully understand the role that L&D#1 plays in fish passage on the lower Osage River. Because this 115 year old dam is relatively unstable, attention needs to be focused on this portion of the Osage River sooner rather than later. Ultimately, a project to remove or stabilize this decaying lock and dam will be necessary. Our work on this river is laying the foundation for new research and ongoing monitoring to understand the influences of tributaries to the Missouri River, impacts of barriers to aquatic organisms and the life history of the endangered pallid sturgeon. This report will soon be available to the public on our station website.


Contact Info: Patricia Herman, 573-234-2132 x170, Patricia_Herman@fws.gov



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