Oregon Senators Join to Launch Legislation to Restore the Rogue River
10/25/2000 -- -- Joint Statement and Press Release of Waterwatch, Trout Unlimited, Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, and the Grants Pass Irrigation District
Bob Hunter, WaterWatch, (541) 772-6116
Jeff Curtis, Trout Unlimited, (503) 827-5700
Liz Hamilton, NSIA, (503) 631-8859
Don Greenwood, GPID, (541) 479-5466
October 23, 2000. Portland, Ore. Today, Oregon Senators Gordon Smith and Ron Wyden introduced a bill to resolve the longstanding controversy over Savage Rapids Dam on the Rogue River. Their legislation would remove the aging irrigation dam near Grants Pass, and replace with it with new pumps. Removing it is the single biggest step that can be taken to restore the river and it's endangered salmon and steelhead.
Savage Rapids Dam, built in 1921 by the Grants Pass Irrigation District (GPID), has a history of controversy over the harm it causes to the Rogue's salmon and steelhead trout. Conservation and sportfishing industry groups, including WaterWatch, Trout Unlimited, and the Northwest Sportfishing Industry Association, have long sought to reach an agreement with GPID on the dam's removal. Faced with rising costs of litigation, the risk of losing one-third of its water, and mechanical failures, GPID patrons strongly supported dam removal in a January vote.
Since then GPID officials and members of the conservation and business community have been cooperatively working with Oregon's congressional delegation on legislation that would keep the irrigation district in business while removing the dam and restoring the river.
The bill will help the irrigators meet their water needs while allowing this section of the Rogue to flow free. Passage of this legislation would be a victory for salmon and a win for the community. All Oregonians should be proud of Senator Smith and Senator Wyden for their leadership and willingness to take on this thorny issue.
The bill provides $13.5 million for removal of the dam and installation of a pumping facility to meet GPID's water needs. The Bureau of Reclamation will monitor and repair any flaws in the pumping facility for five years.
GPID is to be paid $3.7 million for the dam, which will assist the District in covering electricity costs. The bill also provides for $2.5 million for riparian and fishery enhancements, and $2.5 million for recreational enhancements for the local region. State and local governments will share part of the cost for these enhancements.
The bill will likely see some changes as it moves through the legislative process. All parties look forward to working with the congressional delegation to make this win-win solution a reality.
Trout Unlimited is the nation's leading coldwater conservation organization with125,000 members and 500 chapters nationwide working to conserve, protect and restore trout and salmon watersheds throughout North America.