Columbia River

Killing Seabirds To Save Salmon On The Columbia

Aug 26, 2015

It's after 10 p.m. and I'm on a boat at the mouth of the Columbia River.

We're circling around East Sand Island, where thousands of seabirds are nesting in total darkness. I'm pretty sure the captain, Rob Gudgell, thinks I'm nuts.

"Why did you want to come out at night?" he asks.

California sea lions are literally piling into Astoria's East Mooring Basin. They've taken over every square foot of the boat docks, and they're even lying on top of each other for lack of space.

The latest sea lion count in the marina tallied a record 2,340 – a "mind-boggling number," according to Bryan Wright of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Meanwhile California is seeing starving sea lion pups washing up on shore.

For decades the Army Corps of Engineers used an island near the Bonneville Dam as a dumping ground. Toxic chemicals leaked into the Columbia River. The island is also a historic fishing site for the Yakama Nation.

The tribe is now suing the Corps to recover costs from helping clean up the contamination.

In 2003, the Corps removed electrical equipment and contaminated sediment found at the bottom of the river. In 2007, it dredged the area to remove more contaminated soil.

PORTLAND -- New research suggests sea lions are eating more salmon in the Columbia River than previously thought.

Data from tracking salmon over the past five years show a significant drop in survival below Bonneville Dam. Michelle Rub, a researcher with with the Northwest Fisheries Science Center, says preliminary numbers show survival dropping from 90 percent in 2010 to 55 percent in 2014.

RICHLAND, Wash. -- Three environmental groups say the Northwest’s only commercial nuclear power plant is harming fish. The groups are suing a Washington state agency because they say it issued a permit that violates the Clean Water Act.

A little-known fact about Columbia River dams is that a valuable chunk of the power generated on the U.S. side goes to Canada under an international treaty.

California brown pelicans usually nest and hatch chicks in Southern California and Mexico. But in the past two years, scientists have seen them building nests much farther north on an island in the Columbia River.

The unusual nesting behavior follows a northward shift in the birds’ migratory patterns over the past three decades, according to Oregon State University seabird ecologist Dan Roby. He noted that a similar pelican species has also been moving north and expanding its breeding range on the East Coast, which suggests it could be linked to climate change.

Flickr Photo/Matt Shiffler Photography (CC BY-NC-ND)

The U.S. Geological Survey has found high levels of toxic substances in the Columbia River everywhere from sediments to resident fish to osprey eggs.

Hydropower dams built without fish ladders have blocked migratory fish from the upper reaches of the Columbia and Snake Rivers for decades.

The Columbia River will remain drawn down at least until June because of the cracked Wanapum Dam in southeast Washington.

This summer could be a bust for a resort community in central Washington after a crack in the Wanapum Dam forced operators to draw down the Columbia River more than 25 feet.

High winds on the Columbia River are hampering forensic work on the damaged Wanapum Dam in southeast Washington.

Flickr Photo/Ken Slade (CC BY-NC-ND)

Operators of five dams on the Columbia and lower Snake rivers will start killing birds that eat migrating juvenile salmon.

Two skeletons found upstream of the cracked Wanapum Dam have been handed over to Northwest tribes.

Oregon Says Coal Export Project Will Need To Lease More Land

Mar 18, 2014

Developers of the Morrow Pacific coal export project on the Columbia River already have land leases with the Port of St. Helens and the Port of Morrow.

But according to the Oregon Department of State Lands, they're going to need a couple more.

In Oregon, the state owns all the land submerged in water -– including riverbeds.

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