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[55] The historical barrier to fish migration on the Snake River was Shoshone Falls, a waterfall that occurs as the Snake River passes through the Snake River Plain. The Wood River sculpin (Cottus leiopomus) is endemic to the Wood River. However, precipitation in the Snake River watershed varies widely. It is 1,240 miles (2,000 km) long. This area has a group of three islands (hence the name) that splits the Snake into four channels each about 200 feet (61 m) wide. The Lower Snake River Project's four dams and navigation locks have transformed this part of the Snake River into a series of reservoirs. In the upper parts of the watershed, however, the river flows through an area with a distinct alpine climate. . [103], Since the early 20th century, when Swan Falls Dam was constructed on the middle Snake River upstream of Hells Canyon, the fifteen dams and reservoirs on the river have posed an increasing problem for migrating salmon. The party later traveled north, descended the Lemhi River to the Salmon and attempted to descend it to the Snake, but found it impassable because of its violent rapids. Both rivers had large salmon and steelhead runs. Below Shoshone Falls, the economy centered on salmon, who often came up the river in enormous numbers. Sophistication varied from reed boats pulled by Indians on horse back at Snake Fort, Fort Boise, as described by Narcissa Whitman[74] in 1836 to an electric operated ferry, the Swan Falls Ferry,[75] at Swan Falls Dam of the early 20th century. At 1,078 miles (1,735 km) long, it is the largest tributary of the Columbia River, in turn the largest North American river that empties into the Pacific Ocean. Aside from water from the river, water is also pulled from the Snake River Aquifer for irrigation. The Snake River Salmon Recovery Team underscored this theme in its March 1995 Proposed Recovery Plan for Snake River Salmon. In May 1999, a federal judge approved a settlement that required Avista Corp., formerly Washington Water Power, to pay $39 million to the Nez Perce Tribe for fish losses caused by Lewiston Dam and another dam that also was owned by Avista's predecessor. According to legend, the Nez Perce tribe was first founded in the valley of the Clearwater River, one of the Snake River's lowermost major tributaries. Major cities along the river include Jackson in Wyoming, Twin Falls, Idaho Falls, Boise, and Lewiston in Idaho, and the Tri-Cities in Washington (Kennewick, Pasco and Richland). At Twin Falls, in the center of the Snake River Plain, the climate is nearly desert, with an annual rainfall of just 9.24 inches (235 mm), although the average snowfall is 13.1 inches (330 mm). Gigantic glacial-retreat flooding episodes that occurred during the previous Ice Age carved out canyons, cliffs and waterfalls along the middle and lower Snake River. In the 18th century, Shoshone territory extended beyond the Snake River Plain, extending over the Continental Divide into the upper Missouri River watershed and even further north into Canada. As the North American Plate moved westwards over a stationary hotspot beneath the crust, a series of tremendous lava flows and volcanic eruptions carved out the Snake River Plain beginning about 12 million years ago, west of the Continental Divide. The committee convened its hearing on the Snake River dams in Walla Walla, Washington, on June 25. It passes through an agricultural valley about 30 miles (48 km) southwest of Boise and flows briefly west into Oregon, before turning north to define the Idaho–Oregon border. In 1949, as the plans for the Snake River dams were being attacked, a survey of Columbia River tributaries by the U.S. Splash dams were nothing more than piles of logs that backed up small, temporary reservoirs on tributary streams of a larger river. An improved fish collection and bypass system was installed, but there are times in the spring when the powerhouse simply is shut down to keep fish from being sucked into the turbines. The first concrete was poured two years later. Dredging and redredging work is ongoing and actual depths vary over time. As public support grows for reducing, even eliminating, emissions of greenhouse gases from various sectors of the economy, in the Northwest and across the nation, states are passing renewable energy standards, transportation is becoming increasingly electrified, and aging power plants that burn fossil fuels are being retired. Not until the 1990s did fishery officials and the public utility that owns and operates the dam devise an agreement to regulate its outflows, and others upstream, to protect the fish. Strike Reservoir. Usually these mortalities or injuries are caused when the fish strike the spinning blades or the concrete walls. From killer whales slicing through waves to salmon jumping rapids on their journey home, marine life fills and defines the waters of the West Coast. The Columbia is one of the world’s greatest sources of hydroelectric power and, with its tributaries, represents a third of the potential hydropower of the United States. At the same time, the Atomic Energy Commission supported Ice Harbor, and the manager of the federal government’s Hanford Works, concerned that the Bonneville Power Administration might not be able to meet Hanford’s growing power need and the growing needs of the Northwest, suggested that the dam could be the exclusive power source for the Commission at Hanford. There are also high, often localized levels of mollusc endemism, especially in Hells Canyon and the basins of the Clearwater River, Salmon River, and middle Snake River. The Columbia River flows about 325 miles (523 km) further west to the Pacific Ocean near Astoria, Oregon.[11][14][15]. Hell's Canyon Dam blocks passage to the entire upper Snake River. However, the amount of sediment transported has diminished as dams, levees, and channelization increased over time. Most of the Snake River watershed lies between the Rocky Mountains on the east and the Columbia Plateau on the northwest. Rising in several forks in the Clearwater Mountains of central Idaho, the Clearwater and Salmon River watersheds are nearly undeveloped with the enormous exception of Dworshak Dam on the North Fork Clearwater River. The river leaves Hells Canyon and turns west, winding through the Palouse Hills of eastern Washington. [41], The Snake River watershed is bounded by several other major North American watersheds, which drain both to the Atlantic or the Pacific, or into endorheic basins. [43] Fertilizer, manure and other chemicals and pollutants washed into the river greatly increase the nutrient load, especially of phosphorus, fecal coliforms and nitrogen. These boats were the Harvest Queen, John Gates, Spokane, Annie Faxon, Mountain Queen, R.R. Jackson Lake Dam, far upstream in Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park, was built in 1907 to raise Jackson Lake for providing additional water storage in dry years. [65][66] The name "Lewis Fork", however, did not last.[64]. Another writer similarly notes several days travel through "a desert so desolate and rocky that we almost regretted that we had not continued on the south side of that stream". [53], Canadian explorer David Thompson first recorded the Native American name of the Snake River as Shawpatin when he arrived at its mouth by boat in 1800. Serious conservation efforts by wildlife biologists and fish hatcheries have captured the few remaining wild sockeye salmon, collected their sperm and eggs, and in a laboratory, have them spawn. Improvements were made to all three ladders in the mid-1960s. 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