Rogue Basin

In the Rogue Basin, WaterWatch has been and continues to be a leader in one of the most substantial dam removal and river restoration efforts undertaken in the United States. Much work still remains to protect this incredible resource.

Gold Ray Dam mid-removal by River Design Group

Free the Rogue

The Rogue River is one of the nation's most beloved waterways. One of the twelve original Wild and Scenic Rivers recognized by congress in 1968, people travel from all over the world to experience this amazing place.

The Rogue Basin historically produced the most wild salmon and steelhead in Oregon outside the Columbia Basin. However, coho salmon are now listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, and spring chinook and steelhead are declining.

To reverse this trend, WaterWatch has worked for decades to remove significant fish barriers and improve flows to benefit the Rogue's fish populations while enhancing fishing and recreational opportunities. Our staff were instrumental to agreements behind the recent removal of four Rogue Basin dams and the largest instream water transfer in the Rogue's history. Combined, these achievements represent one of the most substantial dam removal and river restoration efforts undertaken in the United States. Even so, much work remaind to protect this incredible resource, and WaterWatch remains a leader in continuing Rogue River restoration effects.


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In the Rogue Basin, we’ve worked to remove barriers on the mainstream Rogue and key spawning tributaries, and converted a 517 million-gallon-per-day water right to an instream water right to protect mainstem river flows forever. Together, we’ve reestablished one of the longest reaches of free-flowing river in the West – 157 miles – and protected the water necessary to ensure the river’s health for future generations.

Ongoing Work

Fielder and Wimer Dam Removals – Done!

Fielder Dam

The former Fielder Dam on Evans Creek

In a major development for the Rogue Basin's prized salmon and steelhead runs, WaterWatch secured removal agreements for Fielder and Wimer dams on Evans Creek, then worked with partners to raise the significant funds necessary to remove these dams, which were demolished in the summer 2015. An important spawning tributary of the Rogue River, Evans Creek supports fall chinook salmon, coho salmon, summer and winter steelhead, cutthroat trout, suckers, and lamprey. Above these dams, approximately 19 miles of the habitat is available for fall chinook production, 60 miles for coho salmon production, and 70 miles for steelhead production.

Gold Hill Irrigation District Fish Passage Improvement Project- Done!

WaterWatch and others worked with the Gold Kill Irrigation District (GHID) to improve fish passage at its irrigation diversion system on the mainstem of the Rogue River. Following the removal of Savage Rapids Dam, City of Gold Hill Dam, and Gold Ray Dam, as well as the notching od Elk Creek Dam, GHID's diversion dam was the highest-ranking fish passage priority on the Rogue Basin Fish Access Technical Team's priority list on the mainstem of the Rogue River. This project benefits spring and fall chinook salmon, summer and winter steelhead, coho salmon, cutthroat trout, and lamprey. The changes in the diversion system, which were completed in autumn 2016, will also increase flows in a 1/4-mile stretch of the Rogue river, improving navigation through Nugget Falls, and allow for safer public access to the river.

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Improvement of GHID’s diversion on the Rogue River underway

Learn More

To learn more about how WaterWatch achieved its goal of freeing the lower 157 miles of the Rogue River and restoring streamflows, watch our Free the Rogue campaign video:

The Rogue dam removals are expected to provide a boost to the river's coho salmon, and augment runs of spring and fall chinook salmon, summer and winter steelhead, resident cutthroat trout, and pacific lamprey. For details on how the four dams were removed and the benefits to the basin and the region, check out our pages on:

Notching Elk Creek Dam

Savage Rapids Dam Removal

Gold Hill Diversion Dam Removal

Gold Ray Dam Removal