December 6, 2011
SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking public comment on a request to exempt from fish passage requirements a culvert replacement project on Eola Drive located in West Salem. Comments are due by Dec. 27, 2011.
The city of Salem has proposed replacing an existing 36-inch diameter culvert with a new 48-inch diameter culvert as part of a safety corridor project. Other improvements will include street widening, addition of turn lanes, sidewalks and streetlights. This action has triggered Oregon’s fish passage requirements.
Historically, Turnage Brook, a tributary of the Willamette River, may have provided limited habitat for native migratory fish species such as cutthroat trout or juvenile chinook and steelhead. However, due to urbanization, fish passage barriers and poor habitat quality, ODFW fish biologists have concluded Turnage Brook no longer contains native migratory fish above the Willamette River floodplain.
According to Ken Loffink, ODFW assistant Fish Passage Program coordinator, ODFW may grant the exemption if there is no appreciable benefit to fish from providing passage. At the Turnage Brook project site, multiple fish passage barriers exist downstream, and upstream the limited habitat available (less than half a mile) is of poor quality. Because of these site conditions, ODFW has made an initial determination that even if fish passage was provided at the project site, the action would not result in an appreciable benefit to native migratory fish.
Therefore, unless the Department receives public comment that would affect its determination, the exemption request will be approved.
In the meantime, members of the public will have until Dec. 27, 2011 to submit written comments on the proposed plan. The fish passage exemption application and the Department’s benefit analysis are available at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/passage/.
Members of the public can send written comments to or request additional information from Ken Loffink, ODFW Assistant Fish Passage Program Coordinator, 3406 NE Cherry Ave. NE, Salem, OR 97303, e-mail, Ken.J.Loffink@state.or.us, or by calling (503) 947-6256.