Cougar Dam on the South Fork of the McKenzie River
Cougar Dam is located at river mile 4.4 on the South Fork McKenzie River, about 42 miles east of Eugene, Oregon. Cougar Dam has two hydropower generating units capable of producing 25 megawatts in total.
Carrying out the Reasonable and Prudent Alternative (RPA) from the 2008 Willamette Project Biological Opinion requires a suite of actions determined necessary to protect ESA-listed Upper Willamette River Spring Chinook salmon and Upper Willamette River Winter Steelhead ESUs. Key actions which apply for all of the project dams covered under the 2008 Opinion include:
- Meeting ramp rates and flow targets for the Willamette River mainstem and tributaries.
- Interim operations to improve conditions for fish passage, spawning, incubation and rearing are being conducted until permanent solutions can be developed and completed.
- Research Monitoring and Evaluation efforts to inform decision making for downstream fish passage, temperature control, and to analyze the effectiveness of actions which have already been undertaken.
In addition, RPA actions for Cougar Dam includes:
- Operate the Cougar adult collection facility to trap and haul adult Chinook and bull trout to spawning habitat above the dam (construction completed in 2010)
- Operate the Cougar temperature control tower to provide more normal water temperatures downstream to improve growth and survival of Chinook eggs, juveniles and adults (construction completed in 2004)
- Design, construct and operate Cougar downstream fish passage (scheduled to be completed by 2014) – research continues to support identification of the most efficient and cost-effective method for downstream fish passage.