Record numbers of adult salmon return to PGE’s Clackamas River hydropower project

PGE actions to modernize fish passage systems and improve habitat are contributing to historic results

Nov. 14, 2023

ESTACADA, Ore. (Nov. 14, 2023) – Salmon and steelhead broke several records this fall at Portland General Electric’s Westside Hydropower Project on the Clackamas River. This combination of achievements is in-part a culmination of efforts over the past 17 years to modernize and improve fish passage systems – the infrastructure that enables juvenile and adult fish to safely swim past a series of hydroelectric dams. In addition to investments in state-of-the-art facilities, PGE has worked alongside partners in the Clackamas River Basin to enhance habitat for the fish and wildlife that depend on a thriving river ecosystem.

Together, these actions are contributing to historic returns of adult coho and Chinook salmon, which migrate to the Pacific Ocean as juveniles and swim back to the Clackamas as adults. More than 17,000 adult coho returned to North Fork Dam this fall, marking the third consecutive year of record coho returns – an unprecedented stretch of positive results not seen since dam construction. Additionally, PGE biologists counted the largest return of wild spring Chinook salmon to the Clackamas River since data collection began in 1958, passing nearly 5,000 fish above North Fork Dam to the wild fish sanctuary of the upper Clackamas.

Since 2006, PGE has made significant investments in safe passage systems for adult salmon and steelhead, including a new fish ladder, a more efficient adult trap and a state-of-the-art hands-free sorting facility. Together, these improvements have allowed fish to pass upstream quickly and with reduced handling, allowing them to access the cooler waters of the upper Clackamas Basin earlier in the year when conditions are more beneficial to both spawning and survival.

“With more returning adults spawning upstream, we’re seeing larger generations of juvenile fish headed to the ocean to start the cycle over again,” said Nick Ackerman, Senior Biologist for PGE at the Westside Hydropower Project. Compounded by recent adult returns, more juvenile fish passed through PGE’s bypass system than ever before this year, safely avoiding three dams on their way to the Pacific Ocean. An improved pipeline ensures that fish are passing through the project quickly, allowing them to complete their migration when the lower Willamette River is cooler and predators are less active.

In addition to infrastructure investments and habitat enhancements, favorable marine conditions for the past three years have helped fish grow bigger at a faster pace during their time in the Pacific Ocean, improving their chances of survival before the journey back home to the Clackamas. With more robust and resilient fish populations, PGE hopes to see ongoing success for years to come, even as these ocean conditions change.

“We’re grateful to everyone working alongside us to create healthier habitats in the Clackamas Basin, including environmental nonprofits, Tribes and fisheries managers like the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and NOAA Fisheries,” said Ackerman. “PGE is proud to see its commitment to environmental stewardship paying off for native fish.”

Record numbers of adult salmon return to PGE’s Clackamas River hydropower project
More than 17,000 adult coho salmon returned to PGE's North Fork Sorting Facility on the Clackamas River.

About Portland General Electric Company
Portland General Electric (NYSE: POR) is a fully integrated energy company that generates, transmits and distributes electricity to over 900,000 customers in 51 cities across the state of Oregon. For more than 130 years, Portland General Electric (PGE) has powered the advancement of society, delivering safe, affordable, reliable and increasingly clean energy. To deliver on its strategy and meet state targets, PGE and its approximately 3,000 employees committed to partnering with stakeholders to achieve at least an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from power served to customers by 2030 and 100% reduction by 2040. PGE customers set the standard for prioritizing clean energy with the No. 1 voluntary renewable energy program in the country. Additionally, for the fifth year in a row, PGE was recognized by the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index which highlights companies committed to creating a more equal and inclusive workplace. As a reflection of the company's commitment to the community it serves, in 2022, PGE employees, retirees and the PGE Foundation donated nearly $5.5 million and volunteered more than 18,000 hours with more than 400 nonprofits across Oregon. For more information visit

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