Savage Rapids Dam will not be standing for long

Savage Rapids Dam will not be standing for long

By Jeff Duewel
Daily Courier
October 09, 2009

Water was set to pour over ground once covered by Savage Rapids Dam this morning, the first time in 88 years the Rogue River will flow without passing through or over the structure.

But by today’s print deadline, water had not yet run through a new channel on the north side. The story will be updated today and Saturday at www.thedailycourier.com.

There were plenty of media and onlookers on hand, to watch the historic event from the Rogue River Highway. Excavation was muddying the water downstream from the dam.

“This is a day of celebration for the many people who have worked long and hard to remove this dam and restore the Rogue River,” said WaterWatch staff attorney Bob Hunter, who fought for dam removal for many years.

“I can’t wait to run the new stretch in my drift boat, and check out the new fishing spots.”

Others are torn about the historic removal.

“I have mixed feelings,” said Bob Hamilton, project manager for the Bureau of Reclamation. “At long last the problem is being resolved. At the same time you look into how much energy and effort went into building the thing in the first place.”

“It’s kind of bittersweet to see something gone,” said Dan Shepard, manager of the Grants Pass Irrigation District. “I believe if we hadn’t gone this direction we’d be out of business.”

The 88-year-old dam is being removed to improve salmon and steelhead passage, following years of debate over its fate.

The GPID, which consented to dam removal in 2001 under pressure of lawsuits, started using new pumps in the spring. The entire project costs just under $40 million, and is being financed by the federal government.

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