In theory, the Farmers Screen was born 1996 when the Farmers Irrigation District (FID) of Hood River, Oregon lost its irrigation infrastructure due to a severe flood event on the Hood River. Left without a way to deliver water to their farmers or generate revenue with their hydroelectricity plants, and seeking a solution to the problems they had with their previous fish screens, FID staff began brainstorming ways to restore their district.
Intrigued by the concept of horizontal fish screens, the irrigation district went to state agencies, nonprofits, and tribes and asked for their support in developing a new type of fish screen. After ten years of research and testing, FID created the Farmers Screen, a self-cleaning, horizontal screen that protects fish and manages debris.
Then, in 2006, another irrigation district in the Hood River Valley experienced a similar catastrophic flood and debris slide on their Eliot Creek diversion in the upper Hood River Valley. The Middle Fork Irrigation District (MFID), located south of FID with diversions at higher elevations on the north slope of Mt. Hood, also struggles with sediment management and screening for their irrigation water system and hydroelectric power plants. The MFID replaced their destroyed penstock, head gate and fish screen with a dual Farmers Screen in 2007 and later, in 2009, installed their second Farmers Screen on their nearby Coe Creek intake. Click to view complete project information and galleries of the Eliot Creek Farmers Screen and the Coe Creek Farmers Screen.
Here are a few pictures of the BEFORE pictures, of the 2006 flood and debris field landslide event:
FCA was excited to be a small part of this year’s Hood River Salmon Days – an educational field trip experience for 4th and 5th graders from Parkdale Elementary and Mid-Valley Elementary schools here in the Hood River Valley. Funded by Bonneville Power Administration and developed by the staff of the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs, this day-long educational program introduces students to the challenges facing salmon in our watershed, including passage. FCA’s working scale-model of a Farmers Screen installation was on view at Middle Fork Irrigation District’s hydro plant and became an engaging part of the tour.
Many thanks to MFID, BPA, and especially the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs for creating this wonderful, informative, and crucially important educational experience for our kids!
Thanks and kudos to Catch, Snap & Release for this cool video of a Nevada Department of Wildlife fish salvage using team electroshock and netting process to collect the fish for transport out of “The Wrong Water.” FCA had the chance to help out with a fish salvage using this method in the Hood River watershed a couple of years ago. It was rewarding, wet work, but it was great to get the fish out of the ditch and back to the stream where they belong. This video provides a great example of why we do what we do. Fish screens keep these guys out of those canals in the first place.
Sometimes I think we take for granted this place that we live and work in. The Columbia River Gorge is home to spectacular vistas, fantastic outdoor recreation of all kinds, and each winter, it is home to a world-class restoration conference – River Restoration Northwest (www.rrnw.org).
At FCA, we keep the River Restoration Northwest conference on our calendar not because it takes place our veritable backyard but because it is an exceptional event. The quality of the presentations, the venue (Skamania Lodge is fabulous), and the interest that we have always received about the Farmers Screen from the over 300 attendees, keeps us coming back year after year. The conference features a jam-packed three-day presentation schedule and really nice socials. River Restoration Northwest has always been one of our favorites and will be for years to come.
Right after that week of close-to-home networking, it was time to load up for a 1,500 mile journey to Idaho Falls, Idaho for the Idaho American Fisheries Society annual gathering (http://www.idahoafs.org/). FCA had never been to this conference before but after looking over a sample attendee list, we knew that this was a good place for us to be. So, in between snowstorms here in the Gorge, we loaded up and headed east … and we continued that heading for 11 hours. Once there, we were greeted with firm handshakes, familiar faces, and cold beers — we knew we had made a good choice with this conference.
Day after day this conference proved to be a phenomenal networking opportunity. It seemed that half of the folks we met with already knew about the Farmers Screen and had some sort of involvement or knowledge of one of our past projects. By the end of the conference, I felt like we had made some great connections. Many of these were with new people and organizations who had knowledge of some potential screening projects where FCA might be able to become involved to help protect fish. This is what always makes a long trip worth it.
Many thanks to the organizers of River Restoration Northwest and the Idaho American Fisheries Society conferences – we will be back!