News

Reduced Releases from Salmon River Reservoir to Conserve Water

Drought Forces Temporary Closure of Lower Fly Section to Protect Salmon Run

Ongoing drought conditions in the Salmon River watershed have forced Brookfield Renewable in collaboration with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to reduce the amount of water released to the Salmon River from the Salmon River Reservoir starting Thursday, September 29.

In addition, DEC will close the Lower Fly Fishing Area on the Salmon River in conjunction with the reduced flows. This closure applies only to the Lower Fly Area, and the remainder of the 13-plus miles of the river accessible to the public will remain open.

"New York's fish hatchery system is a vital part of our effort to sustain our popular and economically important recreational fisheries," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "The reduced water flows and closure will help ensure that adequate numbers of salmon enter DEC's Salmon River Hatchery in order to provide eggs for salmon stocking that support Lake Ontario and tributary fisheries."

A 2007 study estimated the value of these fisheries to New York State's economy at $12.9 million. DEC is concerned that unintentional fishing mortality of Pacific Salmon could impact egg take operations if too much water is released.

The ΒΌ-mile section of the Salmon River that comprises the Lower Fly Fishing Area is located immediately downstream of the Salmon River Hatchery and upstream of the County Rt. 52 Bridge in Altmar. The upper boundary of the area is just downstream from Beaverdam Brook. This location is a staging area for various species of fish, including Chinook and coho salmon, as they prepare to enter the hatchery via Beaverdam Brook. The closure will remain in effect as long as flow reductions are necessary.

Flows will be increased as soon as rainfall patterns change and reservoir water levels necessary to maintain these flows are restored. The Lower Fly Area will be reopened when flows permit and Salmon River Hatchery egg-take operations are completed.

Should salmon returns to the hatchery be inadequate, DEC has developed a contingency plan to secure additional salmon eggs from other Lake Ontario tributaries. Further information on these actions can be obtained by contacting the DEC Fisheries Unit in Cortland at fwfish7@dec.ny.gov or by phone at (607) 753-3095.