The project was authorized by the River and Harbor Act of 1945.
Little Goose Dam construction started in June 1963. The filling of Lake Bryan began on Feb. 16, 1970, and continued until elevation 638 feet was reached on Feb. 25, 1970. The Ice Harbor Lock was open to navigation in May 1970. The installation of power generating units one through three was completed, and the first unit began producing power in March 1970. Additional power units four through six were installed and power for those units came online in July 1978. Revisions were made to the juvenile fish facility in 1982 and 1984.
The project includes a dam, navigation lock, power plant, fish ladder and appurtenant facilities. It provides navigation, hydropower generation, fish and wildlife habitat, recreation and incidental irrigation.
Little Goose Dam
The dam is 3,200 feet long with an effective height of about 100 feet. It is located on the Snake River near Starbuck, Wash., and upstream of Lake West, the reservoir formed by Lower Monumental Dam. It is a concrete gravity dam with an earthfill abutment embankment. It includes a navigation lock and eight-bay spillway 512 feet long, which has eight 50-feet by 60-feet tainter gates.
Little Goose has a single-lift lock, 86 feet wide by 668 feet long, with a 100-foot vertical lift. 2,490,523 tons of commodities passed through the Little Goose navigation lock during fiscal year 2021.
Lake Bryan extends upstream about 37.2 miles and provides navigation to Lower Granite Lock and Dam. It has a surface area of 10,025 acres.
The powerhouse has six 135,000-kilowatt units – 810-megawatt total powerhouse capacity. During fiscal year 2017, 2.87 billion kilowatt hours of electricity were produced.
Adult fish passage facilities include one fish ladder with entrances on both shores and a fish channel through the spillway, which connects to the powerhouse fish collection system and south shore ladder. Modifications to improve adult Pacific lamprey passage include ladder improvements, passage structures and installation of metal plating to assist lamprey upstream. A juvenile bypass outfall has avian deterrents installed to limit perching near the release location by piscivorous birds. This system was modified several times. The 10-year average collection of outgoing juvenile salmon and steelhead for 2011 to 2020 at Little Goose was approximately 3.2 million fish with approximately 2.4 million of those transported via truck and barge below Bonneville Dam. In 2009, a spillway weir was installed to improve conditions for juvenile salmon passage at the dam. A passive integrated transponder (PIT)-tag monitoring system was completed prior to the 2009 fish passage season. This system improved detection of downstream migrating PIT-tagged juveniles.
There are 5,398 acres of project lands surrounding Lake Bryan. These lands include fee lands that are federally owned and managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) as well as easement lands to which USACE has specific rights or easements (i.e., flowage or access). There are 5,142.9 acres of USACE-managed lands used for public recreation purposes, wildlife habitat, wildlife mitigation, and water-connected industrial development. Two areas totaling approximately 150 acres are licensed either to the state or local port for recreation. Lake Bryan provides seven day-use sites, five campgrounds, five boat launching areas and two swimming areas. During fiscal year 2020, Little Goose hosted 225,747 visits.
About 50 Walla Walla District employees work at the Little Goose project. They serve as electricians, lock operators, mechanics, welders, riggers, painters, utility workers, heavy equipment operators, park rangers, biologists, environmental resource specialists, administrative staff, engineers and maintenance workers. Together, they manage the safe and continuous operation of the project.
Little Goose project lands provide opportunities for all sorts of recreational activities, including fishing, hunting, hiking, birding, camping, swimming and horseback riding. Amenities within the parks include boat launches, campsites, shelters, fire rings, and picnic tables.