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6. Lamprey


Implement actions that result in increased abundance and survival for lamprey, including habitat actions, dam operations and passage, monitoring populations, and research to improve understanding of how the development and operation of the Federal Columbia River Power System affect migration success, survival and growth of  lamprey.


Three species of lamprey are native to the Columbia River Basin, which historically supported productive populations: Pacific lamprey, river lamprey, and brook lamprey. Most of the information and effort in the basin for lamprey is focused on the anadromous Pacific lamprey.

Recent data indicate that distribution of lamprey has been reduced in many river drainages. Knowledge about the effects of hydropower dams on lamprey is improving, and the need for substantial additional effort addressing lamprey has become an emerging issue. Food web issues, water quality (flow, temperature, and toxic contaminants), passage, and predators all may have impacts on lamprey. It is not fully understood how other factors exacerbated by the hydropower system affect lamprey. Research and monitoring will be key to better understand impacts, population status and mitigation actions necessary to rebuild lamprey to self-sustaining numbers throughout the basin.

The Council recognizes and supports efforts to restore Pacific lamprey consistent with:

Lamprey translocation efforts have been successful at increasing adult spawning activity, larval recruitment, and larval distribution and have provided important lamprey life history information. The Council recognizes progress in the development of a framework for Pacific lamprey supplementation research in the Columbia River Basin. Current and future translocation actions should be guided by the lessons learned from ongoing efforts.


  • Juvenile and adult lamprey should be able to safely pass dams in the basin.
  • The population size, distribution, and other limiting factors for lamprey related to the hydropower system need improved understanding
  • Lamprey throughout their historic range should be self-sustaining and harvestable.

General measures

Hydropower system

  • The action agencies shall:
    • Identify and seek opportunities to address effects of hydrosystem operations, including reservoir elevation fluctuations and an altered hydrograph on adult and juvenile lamprey
    • Monitor adult and juvenile lamprey passage at mainstem Columbia and Snake river and Willamette Basin  hydropower dams to identify operations and lighting that delay, promote fall-back, obstruct, or kill migrating adult and juvenile lamprey (e.g. ramping rates, water elevation changes
    • Establish an interim passage standard for adult Pacific lamprey.
    • Evaluate dam passage, assess passage efficiency and direct mortality, and other metrics relating to migratory success of lamprey above dams with poor passage
    • Install lamprey-friendly passage structures for adult and juvenile lamprey
    • Monitor and report predation on adult and juvenile lamprey during passage at mainstem dams.
    • Assess the impacts of dredging on lamprey around hydropower dams and navigation facilities.

Mainstem and tributary habitat

  • The action agencies, in coordination with agencies and tribes, shall:
    • Implement instream habitat projects in a manner that minimizes mortality to lamprey by consulting the Best Management Practices for Pacific Lamprey
    • Continue to identify, protect, and restore habitat areas and ecological functions, such as stream channel complexity and function, that are associated with productive spawning, resting, rearing, and migrating lamprey
    • Install appropriate and effective juvenile lamprey screening for tributary water diversions

Predation – See predator management strategy

Research – See research section of the adaptive management strategy


  • The action agencies, in coordination with agencies and tribes, shall:
    • Develop a regional strategy for monitoring passage into tributaries to better understand differences in counts of adult lamprey between dams
    • Create a monitoring framework to report on the status of lamprey in the basin on a regular basis
    • Report passage counts at dams annually and map lamprey distribution every five years
    • Conduct occupancy and distribution surveys where lamprey abundance is unknown
    • Develop tags suitable for adult and juvenile lamprey monitoring and evaluation needs


  • The action agencies, in coordination with the agencies and tribes, shall evaluate the potential role of lamprey propagation and translocation as a way to mitigate for lost lamprey production when passage and habitat improvements alone are insufficient to restore lamprey populations


  • The action agencies, in coordination with agencies and tribes, shall:
    • Complete a loss assessment for lamprey
    • Determine the potential effects of climate change on lamprey, including the effects of increasing water temperatures and changing runoff regimes on lamprey energetics and performance
    • Consider vulnerability of lampreys to toxin accumulation in water and sediment and to chemical spills, and the exacerbation of such risks in the vicinity of mainstem hydroelectric dams
    • Include Pacific lamprey in the tables of measures associated with the Upper Willamette Conservation and Recovery Plan for Chinook Salmon in Appendix O.

Links to subbasin plans

See the Council’s subbasin plans for subbasin-level information pertaining to the history of lamprey and their associated actions.

Links to other relevant program areas

Strategies: mainstem hydrosystem flow and passage operations, predator management, water quality, habitat, adaptive management

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