Project Name: Lake Creek Project
Summary: Entrainment study to support relicensing
Client: Northern Lights, Inc.
Project Location: Troy, MT
Project Size: 4.5 MW
• Entrainment Study
• Agency Consultation
• Stakeholder Facilitation
Project Timeframe: 2009 - 2011
Relationship with Client: Since 2004
As part of relicensing for the Lake Creek Project, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks requested that Northern Lights conduct an entrainment study to provide information for the preparation of a Biological Opinion regarding “take” of juvenile bull trout — a federally threatened species listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1999. Relicensing the project was a federal action and required consultation pursuant to Section 7 of the ESA as the continued operation of the plant has the potential to entrain juvenile bull trout known to occur in the watershed.
Northern Lights selected Kleinschmidt to design and implement the study to quantify the entrainment of juvenile bull trout through the Project’s intake and turbines. Kleinschmidt engineers designed a full depth entrainment net, frame, and live-box trap that was used to subsample fish entrained through the Project’s largest hydro unit. The net/ trap was deployed for one 24-hour period per week from May 1 to July 31 and from September 1 – October 31. The results of subsampling were extrapolated to non-sample periods to arrive at an annual entrainment estimate. The results of the study indicated that very few juvenile bull trout were entrained during project operations.
The study results allowed Northern Lights to document that the impact of project operations on federally-protected bull trout was limited. The study results also allowed the USFWS to issue a Biological Opinion and complete their environmental analysis of the proposed relicensing, which then allowed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to issue a new license for the Project.