SALEM - The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking public comment on the Eugene Water and Electric Board’s (EWEB) request to waive fish passage on the Smith Dam on the upper McKenzie River.
EWEB has proposed undertaking several fish passage improvements and habitat restoration projects in lieu of providing passage at the dam. The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission will be asked to approve the waiver at its Oct. 10, 2008 meeting in Salem.
In the meantime, members of the public will have until Sept. 19, 2008 to submit written comments on the proposed plan.
EWEB has applied to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to re-license its three-dam Carmen Smith Hydroelectric Project on the upper McKenzie River with. This application has triggered a state requirement to consider fish passage as part of the re-licensing process.
The Commission can agree to waive the passage requirement if the habitat restoration and other improvements proposed by EWEB would provide more benefit to migratory fish than would a fish ladder or similar passage structure at the dam.
ODFW has made an initial determination that the mitigation efforts proposed by EWEB would provide a net benefit to migratory fish compared to providing passage at Smith Dam. These mitigation efforts include:
McKenzie River Upstream of Trail Bridge Reservoir
Placement of additional gravel in streambed to increase spawning habitat for spring chinook salmon with potential benefits for bull trout and other native salmonids.
Maintenance of large woody debris to protect available habitat for chinook salmon and bull trout, and habitats for other native fish species and macroinvertebrate forage.
• Smith Reservoir
Habitat projects to increases the quality and quantity of fry, juvenile, and adult habitat for native cutthroat and rainbow trout, mountain whitefish, and other native fish species.
• Smith River Downstream of Smith Dam
Habitat projects and improved instream flow management to increase spawning habitat for spring chinook salmon and to increase rearing and other habitat for chinook salmon, bull trout, and other native fish species, and macroinvertebrate forage for these fish.
Installation of a 1,000-cfs turbine bypass valve at the Carmen Power Plant to protect proposed habitat projects from potential high flow releases into the Smith Bypass Reach.
• Trail Bridge Reservoir
Habitat projects to increase fry, juvenile, and adult habitat for native salmonids in Trail Bridge Reservoir, as well as increase survival of fry, juvenile, and adult native salmonids in Trail Bridge Reservoir.
• McKenzie River Downstream of Trail Bridge Dam
Improved access for trout to the spawning channel.
Access to the McKenzie River from the upstream end of the Carmen-Smith Spawning Channel.
Spawning and rearing habitat projects in side channels to increase quality of spawning, rearing, and foraging habitat for native salmonids in the mainstem McKenzie River downstream of Trail Bridge Dam.
Installation of a passable culvert on the unnamed fish-bearing stream along the Carmen-Cougar Transmission Line.
Members of the public can send written comments on the proposed waiver to Ken Homolka at ODFW, 3406 Cherry Avenue NE, Salem, 97303, or by e-mail to Ken.Homoka@state.or.us. Written comments must be received by Sept. 19, 2008.
There also will be an opportunity for public comment at the Fish and Wildlife Commission meeting on Oct. 10, 2008 at ODFW headquarters in Salem.
The waiver application, ODFW’s benefit analysis, and the draft waiver agreement regarding mitigation are available at the ODFW website at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/.