We’ve Been Busy

It’s been a while since we posted news on our blog. We’ve been busy building a new Irrigation Modernization program. The Irrigation Modernization program is connecting irrigation districts and farmers with the tools they need to invest in modern irrigation infrastructure. The pilot is now underway with 13 irrigation districts in the state of Oregon.

Take a closer look at what its’ about at http://irrigationmodernization.fcasolutions.org.

We’ll be posting program updates, so come back often!


A Look Back: The Big One

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.

Mt. Hood has dealt irrigators quite a few surprises over the years.

Mt. Hood has dealt irrigators quite a few surprises over the years.

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:

DSC00054 DSC00053 100_0327 13 DSC00102 DSC00100 100_0325 100_0324

A Visit to the Sixmile Farmers Screen

From Dan:

Dan Kleinsmith

Last month, while on a trip out to Missoula, I stopped by the Sixmile Creek Farmers Screen, which was installed in 2011. As project manager for FCA, I like to check on projects at least once a year. This diversion is just 10 minutes off the highway which makes it an easy side trip.

This year was the screen’s third full season of operation. I can always tell by the amount of vegetation growing around a screen if it’s had a successful year — trampled vegetation means lots of foot traffic, which means a lot of screen maintenance. As you can see here, the area around the screen looks kind of overgrown – that’s a good thing.

FCA's Farmers Screen installation on Sixmile Creek in Montana

FCA’s Farmers Screen installation on Sixmile Creek in Montana

I was also impressed by how well the screen is holding up to the elements. The screen material itself is stainless steel, but the body of the screen is a mild steel sheet metal. This project was installed on a very tight budget and, in an effort to save money, our client Trout Unlimited decided to forgo painting the screen. Over time, surface rust will develop so we’ve been monitoring the effects of not painting the screen on this installation. I was impressed to see that this year it really didn’t look any different from last year.

I didn’t take any flow measurements while on site like I usually do, but it looked to me like there was an adequate amount of screened water running for this late in the season. Sometimes, when a fish screen looks like it hasn’t been visited in a long time, it means bad things for how it’s actually being operated. Our first priority at FCA is to ensure that the Farmers Screen is the right screen technology for any diversion. I’ve seen too many fish screens that were poorly suited to conditions at their site, and then simply abandoned because water user gave up in frustration trying to keep up with maintenance. It’s great to see how well our site vetting process works. This is the happiest little screen in Montana!

Well … except for the two other FCA Farmers Screens in Montana!


Dan Kleinsmith

Salmon Days for School Kids

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.

Farmers Screen model at MFID

Farmers Screen model at MFID

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!

Fish passage obstacle course

Fish passage obstacle course

Traditional salmon bake

Traditional salmon bake

Students visit the fish hatchery

Students visit the fish hatchery

The Wrong Water

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.

When Hobbies Attack at FCA!

As everything we do at FCA revolves around innovation and invention, it’s no surprise we have some pretty creative thinkers on staff. Today we thought we’d share just a couple examples of how FCA’ers bring their creativity to work.

Genevieve Scholl-Erdmann heads up FCA media, public relations, and metrics data reporting. She is also an art historian and, ipso facto, a painter. Earlier this year, we were all very excited to receive our custom-made scale model of a typical Farmers Screen installation for use in demonstrations in our booth at conferences.

When the model arrived, just in time for the River Restoration Northwest conference in February, we were really excited. The construction of the miniature Farmers Screen and the way that it worked, was perfect. But, we wanted to enhance the surrounding landscape to represent what installations really look like in the field.

So, Genevieve got to escape from behind her desk to have some fun with paints and brushes for a few days. Now our scale-model Farmers Screen is easier to understand. Here’s a fun “Flipagram” of the painting coming together.

Be sure to visit our booth at a conference soon and check it out!

And here it is on its maiden voyage:

Dan Kleinsmith is FCA’s project manager and also an exceptionally talented photographer. Just as he has done with the Farmers Screen, Dan is always exploring new technologies in his photography, designing and engineering cool gadgets to achieve the results he wants and sharing his knowledge, process, and images generously. In the past couple of years, Dan has brought his photographic innovations to work at FCA to create time lapse videos of Farmers Screen installs. These turned out to be a really great way for new clients to learn what to expect when their new modular Farmers Screen is installed.

In his spare time, Dan has also built his own quad copter and mounted FCA’s GoPro camera to it. He has flown it over operating Farmers Screens, creating short films that, again, give our new and potential clients a clear picture of how the Farmers Screen works and what it looks like in the ground. Below is the time lapse of the Sixmile Creek modular installation and a quad copter fly over of the Three Sisters Irrigation District 160 CFS Dual Farmers Screen.

Now we’ve just got to figure out how to bring Roy Slayton‘s hobby into our workday. Our resident spirits-master has just opened a new craft distillery on Hood River’s beautiful waterfront with his business partner, Chris Taylor. Check them out at Camp1805.com.

Always at the front of the line for a good thing, here’s Julie buying their first bottle. Cheers to hobbies and bottoms up!


River Restoration Northwest and Idaho American Fisheries Society Conferences: FCA on the Road

This just in from Roy:

FCA Sales Manager Roy Slayton

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.

Business Luncheon-Members-B(02-12-2014)_compressed

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!

Till next time, all the best.


Great article on lamprey passage at McNary Dam – go, lamprey, go!