The Marble Bluff Fish Passage Facility aids in the spawning migration of cui-ui and LCT from Pyramid Lake into the Truckee River. The facility consists of four major components: Marble Bluff Dam, a fish lock (elevator), a fishway and a fish handling building.
Located near the end of the Truckee River, approximately 3 miles upstream of Pyramid Lake, the fish lock is a 40 foot deep chamber that fills with water and allows fish to migrate over the dam without being lifted out of the water, similar to an elevator. The high-tech fish lock can move as many as 2000 cui-ui in 15 minutes and has been instrumental in the re-establishment of the cui-ui spawning migration from Pyramid Lake to the Truckee River. Adults spend two to three weeks in the river and larvae drift back to the lake within three weeks of hatching.
The facility was constructed in 1975 to reduce further erosion of the lower Truckee River and to impound and divert water to the fishway to allow passage around the delta. Without this facility, these fish are unable to access their old spawning grounds because of the changes in the lake’s elevation over the last century.
During the cui-ui spawning season, biologists are able to sample a small portion of the fish as they move though the lock. They weigh, measure, determine the gender of the fish, and check for tags before returning them to the river. This information helps biologists understand the recovery needs of cui-ui and to assess their life history and populations trends.
Current activities at the facility include the development of an incubation system for LCT eggs in the fish handling building. This system allows newly hatched trout to be raised in and imprinted with water from the Truckee River. In 2007 (the first year of operation) the incubation system produced approximately 28,400 Lahontan cutthroat trout fry, which were stocked into upstream tributaries of the Truckee River. These LCT will return to spawn in the Truckee River, help to reestablish the LCT within its historic habitat.
The Marble Bluff Fish Passage Facility is operated in partnership with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe. The Lahontan National Fish Hatchery Complex operates and maintains the facility. The Bureau of Reclamation is responsible for the maintenance of the fish lock and the dam. The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe has land management responsibilities for Pyramid Lake and its surrounding area.
The facility is open to the public during the spawning season (March through early June). To schedule a tour, please call (775) 861-6300.