Gold Hill Celebrates Dam Removal

Gold Hill Celebrates Dam Removal

By Chris Jones
KTVL News 10
July 16, 2008

They’re celebrating in Gold Hill as crews prepare to remove the Gold Hill Dam. Part of the dam was torn out last week and the rest will be gone by the end of the month.

Before long you’ll be able to see the Rogue River near Gold Hill as it was nearly 70 years ago, as crews remove a dam the city says it no longer needs.

“This dam has been in place since the 1940s and it’s outlived its usefulness,” says Craig Harper of the Rogue Valley Council of Governments.

For nearly seven decades the dam has forced the Rogue off its natural course to provide irrigation water for the city. Three years ago the city built a water supply intake station up river, rendering the dam obsolete.

“It’s not a flood control dam and it’s not used for irrigation so it really has no current purpose to be here or future purpose to be here,” says Gold Hill resident Richard Hamilton.

So the dam is coming down. Within a couple of weeks the area will look completely different. The water currently behind the dam will run about eight feet lower than it currently is.

“It’s pretty exciting because you know unless you’re about 90-years-old you didn’t see this area, this site, without a dam,” says project manager Scott Wright, with River Design Group.

Which means rafters can brave areas of the river they’ve never faced in this generation.

Some say the most important reason to remove the dam is for the fish that make their way up stream to spawn.

“So many times you would see you know salmon, steelhead, hitting against the dam. And so to have this removed and to see passage even last week of salmon going where there was a dam and no longer having to hit their head against concrete, so to speak, and to be able to go through the site is a pretty neat opportunity for our generation to see,” says Wright.

Unlike the Elk Creek Dam that crews began to blast apart Tuesday, removing the Gold Hill Dam has not stirred much controversy.

“We haven’t had much opposition to the dam removal, mainly because it’s been such a cooperative project between funders, the regulatory agencies, and the city,” says Harper.

The intake station, dam removal and restoration will cost about $4-million. Gold Hill received several grants to cover the cost, including the largest Open Rivers Initiative grant ever awarded.

Not everyone is happy to see the dam go. Some residents living up stream will have to run longer irrigation lines as the river’s course moves away from their property.

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