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Winooski River Fishway Has a Record Salmon Spawning Run

22 November 2011

 

COLCHESTER, VT -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 11/22/2011 -- A strong spawning run has brought large numbers of landlocked Atlantic salmon from Lake Champlain into the Winooski River this fall. During the eight week season that ended on November 10, 189 salmon were collected in the fish lift at the Winooski One hydro-electric facility.

"This has been the best year we've had since the lift began operating in 1993," says Nick Staats, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service fishery biologist who is monitoring the salmon run in cooperation with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. "It's a 44% increase over last year's record 130 fish, and it's a positive sign that sea lamprey control efforts on Lake Champlain are paying off."

 

The Winooski River fish lift is the main feature of a trap and truck fish passage built into the Winooski One hydro-electric facility at the falls above the Salmon Hole in Winooski. The project was designed to truck salmon and steelhead around dams to reach suitable spawning habitat and provide more fishing opportunities. Winooski One shares the cost of operating the fish lift with Green Mountain Power, owner of the next two dams upstream in South Burlington and Essex Junction.

 

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"Until this fish lift was built, the upstream salmon migration had been blocked since Ira and Ethan Allen built the first dam across the Winooski in the late 1700's," said John Warshow, owner of Winooski One Partnership that operates the hydro-electric station. "This kind of increase two years in a row is a hopeful sign that the fishery is being restored."

Brian Otley, VP of Operations at Green Mountain Power, said: "We're proud to be part of this environmental success story of the return of Lake Champlain salmon. Collaboration with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Winooski One Hydro has shown that energy projects can have direct, positive and quantifiable impacts on the environment." Under an agreement with Winooski Hydro One, Green Mountain Power provides two-thirds of the fishway's annual operating budget of $10,000 to $20,000.

The young salmon stocked in the river come from state and federal hatcheries in Vermont. According to biologist Nick Staats, all salmon caught in the fish lift at the Winooski One hydro-electric dam were measured, weighed, sexed, checked for lamprey wounds and tagged by State or Federal biologists.

About Green Mountain Power
Green Mountain Power generates, transmits, distributes and sells electricity in Vermont and is a leader in wind and solar generation. It serves more than 96,000 customers. www.greenmountainpower.com

About Winooski One
Winooski One is a run-of-river hydro-electric generating station located on the Winooski River as it flows between Burlington and Winooski in Chittenden County, Vermont. The station consists of a refurbished spillway with a rubber dam abutting a historic timber crib dam. A fish trap, lift station and riverside park are constructed as part of the Facility. An average annual net output of 30 million kWh is delivered for sale to Vermont's utilities through the Vermont Electric Power Producers, Inc. Hydro-electric power provides clean, safe electricity to Vermont epitomizing the use of renewable energy. www.winooski1hydro.com