April 29, 2013
SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking public comment on a request to exempt from fish passage requirements an existing culvert on an unnamed tributary to the South Fork Umpqua River near Roseburg. Comments are due by May 20, 2013.
The Oregon Department of Transportation is proposing to “slip line” the existing culvert, which conveys the unnamed creek beneath I-5, side roads and a bike path. This action is a significant repair and triggers ODFW’s fish passage requirements.
Historically, the unnamed tributary (sometimes known as Landfill Creek) of SF Umpqua provided habitat for native migratory fish species such as cutthroat trout. Currently, no cutthroat trout persist in the tributary or the 1500 feet of historic fish habitat located upstream of the existing culvert.
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 existing culvert, land use has altered the quality of stream habitat, and other artificial obstructions to fish passage immediately upstream limit potential fish distribution. In addition, the mouth of the tributary is naturally perched on a bedrock outcrop well above the SF Umpqua, limiting fish passage to only years with very high flows.
Because of these site conditions, Loffink said ODFW has made an initial determination that even if fish passage was provided at the existing culvert, 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. If, in the future, conditions in the unnamed tributary change and providing passage would benefit native migratory fish, this exemption may be revoked.
In the meantime, members of the public will have until May 20, 2013 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.