Fish advocate: Rogue’s new route ‘pretty darn thrilling’

Fish advocate: Rogue’s new route ‘pretty darn thrilling’

By Mark Freeman
Mail Tribune
October 09, 2009

From a bird’s-eye perch atop a catwalk downstream from what once was Savage Rapids Dam, the man wild salmon advocates credit for getting the fish-killing span out of the Rogue River stood awed this morning.

WaterWatch attorney Bob Hunter, who has spent most of three decades to help the Grants Pass Irrigation District replace the aged dam with electrical pumps, choked up as the first water flowed through its original channel.

“It’s pretty darn thrilling,” says Hunter, of Eagle Point. “It’s really a tremendous sight to see.

“We’re finally here,” Hunter says. “After 88 years, the Rogue River is finally running free.

The Rogue began its free-flow through its historic channel at 11:40 a.m. today when a bulldozer completed a berm that blocked flow to what remains of the dam’s south side.

Now the whole Rogue is flowing down the river’s north channel, excavated by contractors.

The dam was deemed one of Oregon’s worst impediments to wild salmon passage. The $39.3 million project for removal and replacement with pumps has been overseen by the federal Bureau of Reclamation. The main impetus was to reduce harm to wild coho salmon, which are listed as a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act.

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