Mid-Willamette Bull Trout Rehabilitation Project

Mid-Willamette Bull Trout Rehabilitation Project

Bull trout in the Middle Fork Willamette Basin once moved uninhibited back and forth from spawning and rearing habitats near Diamond Peak to foraging and overwintering habitats lower in the basin.  Construction of Dexter, Lookout Point and Hills Creek dams in the 1950s and 1960s without fish passage fragmented the habitat and limited the range of the population to above Hills Creek Dam.  This population declined and the last confirmed bull trout sighting above Hills Creek dam was a photograph taken by an angler in 1990.  Buchanan et al. (1997) described bull trout in the Middle Fork Willamette River as “probably extinct” after extensive surveys from 1993 through 1997 failed to observe any bull trout.  In 1997 the US Forest Service and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife began a program to reestablish bull trout in the Middle Fork Willamette.  More than 10,000 bull trout fry have been transferred from the relatively healthy McKenzie population to the Middle Fork Willamette River.  Adult bull trout are once again present in the Middle Fork Willamette, and natural production has been documented since 2005.