Downstream Passage of Fish at High Head Dams

About the Course

High-head dams are known barriers to fish passage, and can block access to productive habitat in the upper watersheds.  For over a century, the primary focus of fish passage has been on how we can move fish upstream, which has advanced the application and success of upstream passage at high-head dams to a significant degree. However, high-head dams also pose a unique engineering and biological challenge for the feasible, safe and effective passage of downstream migrating fish.  To meet that challenge, a renewed emphasis has been established on all stages of the lifecycle. The state of the art for downstream fish passage methods and technologies is evolving, with some systems proving to be very effective and others still working towards improved performance.  Facility owners, fisheries resource agencies, researchers, and designers are eager to learn from lessons learned in the field and apply that knowledge to their existing or future facility.

The purpose of this course is to provide a broad overview of downstream fish passage at high-head dams with an emphasis on the lessons learned from the Pacific Northwest. Attendees will have the opportunity to learn about available technologies, the design process, case-studies, and lessons learned from existing facilities. The course will help attendees understand the full suite of technical and environmental challenges associated with these structures; why solutions are so site specific and how they must be tailored to individual conditions.  Speakers will present various viewpoints from the industry including designers and developers of the passage systems, biologists and engineers responsible for designing and conducting evaluation study plans, the researchers who are responsible for evaluating performance; and project owners/operators.

This course is offered in coordination with the AFS Bioengineering Section.

Note: Minimum attendance is 15 students

Course Syllabus Click here to view the syllabus

Dr. John Ferguson has worked at Anchor QEA since 2011 as a senior fisheries scientist.  John has over 40 years of experience evaluating the behavior and survival of salmon in large river systems, and applying this information to water management decisions.  He is recognized internationally as a fish passage expert and has authored or coauthored more than 45 peer-reviewed publications, Technical Memoranda, and contract reports. From 2003 to 2011, Dr. Ferguson directed the Fish Ecology Division of NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center and oversaw Riverine Survival, Migration Behavior, Estuary and Ocean Ecology, Fish Passage Engineering, and Watershed programs.

Mr. Michael Garello is a civil engineer with HDR’s Fisheries Design Center, based in Gig Harbor, Washington. Mike has 18 years of professional experience as the design lead and/or project manager on numerous multi-disciplinary fish passage projects emphasizing the implementation of complex ecohydraulic principals.  Mike has worked on numerous high-dam fish passage facilities throughout the US and Canada and has gained unique experience with small-scale, full-scale, and experimental downstream fish collection facilities. In addition to his professional consulting experience, Mr. Garello is currently the president of the American Fisheries Society Bioengineering Section.
Mr. Phil Hilgert has 34 years of experience managing, designing, and implementing fish passage, adult and juvenile salmon survival, and salmonid reintroduction studies at non-Columbia River Projects in the western U.S. and Canada.  He has conducted water management and fisheries studies for water control projects on over 100 different reservoir and river systems, and has served on eight Fish Passage Technical Committees.  He started working on passage performance tools in 2013 to bring a more-structured process to evaluations of fish passage feasibility.  Mr. Hilgert is a senior fisheries biologist at R2 Resource Consultants, located in Redmond, Washington.
Mr. Tobias Kock ( is a fish biologist at the U.S. Geological Survey Columbia River Research Laboratory in Cook, Washington.  He began working on fisheries studies in 1998 and has focused on Pacific salmon and dams in the Pacific Northwest.  Toby’s expertise includes the use of telemetry systems to monitor juvenile and adult salmon and steelhead, and is currently working on the Cowlitz, Willamette, and Yakima rivers.  His research interests include the evaluation of dam passage and survival, assessment of fish collection devices, development of fish passage options at high-head dams, reintroduction of salmon and steelhead to areas blocked by dams, and effects of climate change on salmon ecology and dam management.
Mr. Dana Postlewait is a civil engineer who has managed and performed as a lead design engineer for the planning, design, and construction oversight for over 30 fish passage projects, including participation in several independent, expert panels.  His 32 years of experience have focused primarily in the western region of the U.S., with additional projects in Alaska, Canada, and Argentina.  This experience has given him a firm appreciation of the biological goals and challenges associated with these projects, and how to merge the design constraints, engineering physical realities, and regulatory goals and criteria to help teams synthesize information across disciplines to deliver successful fisheries projects.  Mr. Postlewait is R2 Resource Consultant's engineering group manager based in Redmond, Washington, and is currently serving as president-elect of the American Fisheries Society Bioengineering Section.
Mr. Nick Veretto is a fisheries biologist for Puget Sound Energy with over 30 years of experience with hydroelectric project licensing & mitigation, upstream & downstream fish passage development. & operation. Nick has been involved in consultation and design of numerous projects including the Snoqualmie Falls conceptual screens and trap designs; White River screens and bypass; the out-migrant collection system on Upper Puyallup River; the Baker River upstream trap and transport facility; and most notably the Upper and Lower Baker Floating Surface Collectors.
Pre-Upper Baker

Post-Upper Baker
Date and Time Sunday June 18th, 9:00 AM  to 4:45 PM
Location Nash Hall, Oregon State University
Cost $120
Registration Status Open