Originating in a series of lakes near the crest of the Cascade Mountains, the Clackamas flows 80 miles northwest and empties into the Willamette River at Oregon City. Its drainage covers more than 900 square miles.
Starting in the early 1900s, and over a span of seven decades, PGE constructed four hydroelectric plants on the river that still provide emissions-free, renewable power today: Faraday, River Mill, Oak Grove and North Fork.
Counting fish runs
Clackamas River fish runs are one of the most closely monitored in the state. We count adults migrating upstream and juveniles migrating downstream.
Fish passage on the Clackamas
River Mill Dam is the first structure encountered by fish migrating upstream. Its original 1912 fish ladder was replaced in 2006 by a new ladder that provides more resting pools and a more gradual ascent over the dam.
Faraday Diversion Dam is the next upstream and is designed with a 1.9-mile-long fish ladder that provides passage over this and the next, North Fork Dam.
At Faraday, adult salmon are counted and hatchery salmon are removed. Wild salmon move up the ladder and exit into North Fork Reservoir, where they continue up the Clackamas River.
The hatchery fish are moved downstream by truck where they are released for fishing or taken to the ODFW hatchery, where they are used for the production of additional hatchery salmon.
Juvenile fish migrating downstream from the upper reaches of the Clackamas are collected just above North Fork Dam. The fish are then released into a 20-inch diameter pipe that carries them about five miles downstream, returning them to the main river below River Mill. Before they are released into the Clackamas River, PGE counts and evaluates the condition of the juvenile migrants.
Protecting fish and habitat
We are partners in the management of the fisheries resources in the Clackamas basin, along with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Forest Service.
As part of our license to operate hydropower projects on the Clackamas River, we fund habitat restoration projects that protect and restore wetlands, improve riparian areas (including planting shade trees and controlling runoff into the river), and restore instream habitat in areas where native fish migrate, spawn and rear.