(It’s been 10 years since the removal of Savage Rapids Dam. Today, this stretch of the Rogue River near Grants Pass moves freely. Photo courtesy of John DeVoe.)
This October marks the ten-year anniversary of the Rogue River moving freely for the first time in nearly a century on a stretch of river near Grants Pass, Oregon, when work crews pulled down a temporary coffer dam in place around the north side of Savage Rapids Dam. Fish and boats were then able to move unimpeded through the site for the first time in 88 years. The event marked another historic achievement in the ongoing restoration of the Rogue River, the location of the most substantial dam removal efforts yet undertaken in the western U.S. Workmen removed the last portions of the formerly 39-foot high, 464-foot long Savage Rapids Dam by that December.
Formerly located at river mile 107, the dam impacted 500 miles of upstream salmon and steelhead spawning habitat, including 50 mainstem miles. The $40 million Savage Rapids project brought enduring positive impacts to the valuable sport and salmon fisheries of Oregon and marked the beginning of a sustained march of restoration achievements benefiting Rogue River salmon and steelhead. Through the project, WaterWatch was also able to negotiate legal protection for 800 cubic feet of water per second of instream flow in the Rogue, achieving the largest instream transfer ever in the West. Calendar year 2008 had seen the removal of the Gold Hill Diversion Dam on the Rogue’s mainstem, and the notching of Elk Creek Dam, an important spawning tributary of the Rogue. 2010 then saw the removal of Gold Ray Dam, which restored the 157 miles of free flowing Rogue River we all enjoy today. In 2015, crews demolished Fielder and Wimer dams on Rogue tributary Evans Creek to improve access to some 70 miles of quality salmon and steelhead habitat. And we haven’t stopped there! Thanks to your support, WaterWatch has continued to play a key role in making a free-flowing and protected Rogue a reality. We are making great progress to restore fish passage in the Rogue Basin, so please stay tuned for announcements of new projects!