For Immediate Release
April 28, 2015
John DeVoe, WaterWatch of Oregon Executive Director, 971-322-5635
Bob Hunter, WaterWatch of Oregon Board Member, 541-778-3310
Brian Barr, Geos Institute Project Manager, 541-621-7226
Major Grant Awarded to Top Priority Rogue Basin Dam Removal Project
Funding Means Salmon and Steelhead to Regain Access this Fall to 70 Miles of Habitat on Key Spawning Tributary
Salem – Today, the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) approved a $462,845 restoration grant to help remove Fielder and Wimer dams on the Rogue Basin’s Evans Creek. OWEB staff had previously recommended the project as the top priority for restoration funding this grant cycle in the southwest Oregon region. The funding award means that the project will proceed as planned, with both dams removed this summer. By this autumn, Evans Creek salmon and steelhead should regain access to some 70 miles of quality habitat.
“This is great news for Oregon and all the people who cherish the Rogue Basin’s salmon and steelhead,” said WaterWatch Board member and longtime river advocate Bob Hunter. “We greatly appreciate OWEB’s support for such a worthwhile project.”
State and federal agencies have identified Evans Creek, and restoring access to high quality fish habitat in its upper reaches, as important to the recovery of southern Oregon coho salmon, listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) officials ranked these two dams among the top 10 most significant fish barriers on Oregon’s 2013 Statewide Fish Passage Priority List. Fielder and Wimer are the only fish barriers from the state’s top 10 list currently slated for removal.
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 habitat is available for fall chinook production, 60 miles for coho salmon production, and 70 miles for steelhead production.
WaterWatch previously secured the removal agreements for the dams from the relevant private landowners, which ensured removal at no cost to them. Since then, the group has been working in partnership with ODFW, Geos Institute, American Rivers, River Design Group, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and sportfishing groups to remove these dams by autumn 2015. American Rivers previously secured $213,000 in federal grants and another $22,000 in in-kind services. Geos Institute will oversee the contracting for removing the dams.
“I am really excited about seeing this great restoration project come to fruition,” said Brian Barr, who will be managing the project for Geos Institute. “Evans Creek has a great deal of high quality upstream spawning and rearing habitat to which salmon and steelhead will soon have unimpeded access.”