From the City of Eugene, Feb. 2012
For the first time in over 60 years, juvenile spring Chinook salmon can swim freely through newly created side channels of the Willamette River at Delta Ponds and Heron Slough. With completion of the major restoration work this year, water can now flow through the ponds for 2.2 miles, before it meanders through Debrick Slough and back into the river.
Across the river from Delta Ponds is Heron Slough, a quarter mile of newly constructed stream-like side-channel, where river water can also flow during high water events like those Eugene has had over the past several weeks.
Slow-moving side-channels, such as those recently restored at Delta Ponds and Heron Slough, provide areas of calm water during high winter flows. It is here that juvenile salmon are able to rest, feed, and grow larger before migrating to the ocean.
Although the Delta Ponds and Heron Slough projects provide benefits to multiple wildlife species, both projects were designed specifically to provide overwintering habitat for juvenile Chinook salmon.
A grant from the NOAA Restoration Center has allowed the City of Eugene to hire a consultant to monitor fish in Delta Ponds and Heron Slough. The consultant has been running a rotary screw trap at the inlet at Delta Ponds. Since January, over 50 juvenile Chinook have been captured and released using the rotary screw trap. A handful of Chinook were also found in the interior ponds at Delta Ponds and hiding under submerged tree roots in Heron Slough.