Farewell, Gold Hill diversion dam

Farewell, Gold Hill diversion dam

By Buffy Pollock
Mail Tribune
July 13, 2008

Gold Hill celebrates the removal of a fish-blocking dam on the Rogue River

GOLD HILL — Residents and local officials will bid a long-overdue farewell Wednesday to one of the biggest fish barriers on the Rogue River in an official “dam breaking celebration” near the city’s sports park.

Craig Harper, natural resources program manager for the Rogue Valley Council of Governments, said the event, running from 10 to 11:30 a.m., will provide detailed information about the project for neighbors and citizens, offer a birds-eye view of contractors removing the structure, and include a free barbecue lunch.

“This event is a chance to come look at the project and hear about the history of the dam and what’s happening next with construction,” Harper said.

“People are concerned about what the river’s going to look like after the Gold Hill diversion dam is removed in mid-August, concerned about what the banks are going to look like and what kind of restoration is going to be needed,” said Harper. Response to dam removal has run the gamut, Harper said, from “I’m so excited to see the dam go” to “I have to admit I’m going to miss it like I’d miss seeing an old friend.”

The dam removal will cost around $1.2 million, but the total project cost is nearing $4 million, including $2 million for the relocation of a water intake in recent years.

Funds for the project include a more than $500,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, reported to be the largest grant of its type in the history of the agency.

Additional partners in the project include the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, the National Center for Conservation Science & Policy, WaterWatch of Oregon, the Bureau of Reclamation, Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Environmental Protection Agency.

When the dam is gone, restoration work will occur along banks on both sides of the river. Plans have been drawn up to ensure that the area is better than it was before the removal, Harper said.

City officials also are working on improvement projects for nearby trail systems.

Mayor Gus Wolf said city officials are excited to finally see the dam coming out — for the sake of the river and for future generations who will enjoy the restored area.

“I think it’s great to see it finally coming out. This is responsible stewardship of the river,” said Wolf, who will give a speech Wednesday.

“It’s for the future benefit of the citizens of Southern Oregon, the state of Oregon and the entire Northwest.”

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