Outdoor Adventure: Run of the River
by Thomas Patterson
Statesman Journal, June 3, 2011
Bonneville Dam a powerful historic landmark
A wet winter and spring have saturated the eastern part of Oregon as well as the Willamette Valley, leading to the highest water flows in 15 years in the Columbia River watershed. All that water has to go somewhere, and hundreds of thousands of cubic feet per second are shooting through the powerhouses and spillway of Bonneville Dam.
"That's amazing," said Pat Barry of the Bradford Island Visitor Center, watching the roiling froth careening westward. "That's a lot of water coming out over the spillway. I haven't seen this since '96."
The lower level of the center has underwater windows so visitors can view fish swimming up and down the ladders, safely away from the mighty turbines that generate electricity.
Steve Short of Lake Placid, N.Y., was in Oregon for his daughter's college graduation and wanted to see the enormous engineering marvel and its fishy denizens up close. As a salmon swam by the window, he moved in close for a photograph.
In the wake of the spillway, predators have a different plan for the fish. Though the infamous sea lions have recently completed their seasonal migration back to California, osprey and seagulls still swoop down with sharp talons into the rush of water to expertly pluck fish out of the river.
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