Winooski, VT – The Burlington Electric Department and the US Fish and Wildlife Service are encouraging the public to learn more about the importance of open rivers and migratory fish through a celebration of World Fish Migration Day taking place during an Open House at Burlington Electric's Winooski One Hydroelectric Facility. The event, to be held on Saturday, April 28, 2018* from 10am to 2pm is part of a global awareness campaign coordinated by the World Fish Migration Foundation designed to connect fish, rivers, and people by highlighting the importance of migratory fish to the food chain, to healthy and productive river systems, and for food supply for people around the world. The open house will feature operational demonstrations of the Winooski River fish lift that helps transport salmon above the Winooski One Dam to access critical upstream spawning and nursery habitat and teachings by Fish and Wildlife biologists about the fish migration program and how the fish lift serves as a critical component of that program.
"Sharing with our local communities these restoration efforts that are occurring right in their backyards is important," stated Nick Staats, US Fish and Wildlife Service fishery biologist, who regularly monitors the salmon run in cooperation with the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department. "Celebrating World Fish Migration Day is a great way to spread the word."
The Winooski River fish lift is the main feature of a lift and truck fish passage project that is built into Burlington Electric's Winooski One Hydroelectric Facility at the falls above Salmon Hole in Winooski and that assists in the process of restoring landlocked Atlantic salmon in Lake Champlain. The lift harmlessly transports salmon each fall season above the Winooski One Dam, where they are evaluated, measured, and tagged for future determination of program success by Fish and Wildlife biologists. Then, the salmon are safely transported by a Burlington Electric truck approximately 12.5 river miles upstream beyond two additional dams, both owned by Green Mountain Power, with which Burlington Electric partners to operate the fish lift and trucking passage project to help the salmon thrive and to contribute to the benefits that come with safe fish migration. At this point, the fish are returned into the river in North Williston at a point that is conducive to spawning. Young salmon produced upstream spend two to three years in the river before migrating to Lake Champlain where they become adults.
"We take environmental stewardship seriously at Burlington Electric," said Jon Clark, Burlington Electric Power Production Technician at Winooski One Hydro. "Our role in helping to ensure the long-term survivability of salmon in the Winooski River and Lake Champlain is critical, and Burlington Electric is very pleased to join our Fish and Wildlife partners to celebrate World Fish Migration Day as a way to educate our local communities about this important work."
In addition to moving salmon above the Winooski Dam in the fall, Burlington Electric and the Fish and Wildlife Service partner to transport steelhead trout upstream in the spring to provide fishing opportunities for more people who do not have the means to get out on Lake Champlain to fish. Fishing on the Winooski River below the dam is prohibited in the spring to protect spawning walleye and the endangered lake sturgeon. Unlike the salmon, which are transported upstream beyond three dams, the steelhead trout are not trucked anywhere, but rather returned into the river just above the Winooski Dam.
The Winooski One Hydroelectric Facility's fish passage lift in located at 16 West Canal Street in Winooski along the Champlain Mill Path, which runs under the Route 2 Bridge that connects Burlington and Winooski. While no parking is available at the hydro facility, the fish lift may be accessed by short walks from public parking areas in Winooski on either side of the bridge. For more information about parking on the City of Winooski's web site at www.winooskivt.org/parking.
*While World Fish Migration Day was observed on April 21, 2018, this year's local celebration will take place on April 28, 2018 for scheduling reasons.
**Attached photo depicts Nick Staats, US Fish and Wildlife Service fishery biologist, holding a salmon.
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