December 20, 2013
SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) is seeking public comment on requests to exempt from fish passage requirements at an existing culvert on an unnamed tributary to Baldy Creek near Lincoln City, and an existing dam on an unnamed tributary to Neil Creek near South Salem. Comments are due by Jan. 10, 2014.
The Lincoln City project is being conducted by the Oregon Department of Transportation and will replace an existing section of small culverts that conveys the unnamed tributary. The culverts are within in the City’s storm water system. The replacement of these culverts has triggered Oregon fish passage requirements.
At the South Salem project site, private owners of an existing dam are seeking a new water right permit in order to store more water in their reservoir. This is a fundamental change in permit status, which also triggers Oregon’s fish passage laws.
Historically, both of the unnamed tributaries provided habitat for native migratory fish, such as cutthroat trout, said Ken Loffink, ODFW Assistant Fish Passage Coordinator. ODFW has concluded that no cutthroat trout currently persist in these tributaries or the limited amount of habitat located upstream of the barriers.
ODFW may grant the exemptions if there is no appreciable benefit to fish from providing passage. According to Loffink, potential fish distribution in these tributaries has been limited by land use that has altered the quality of stream habitat, and by artificial obstructions to fish passage downstream of the project sites. In addition, both sites are located near headwaters, and naturally may not have supported significant populations of fish. Because of these site conditions, Loffink said ODFW has made an initial determination that even if fish passage was provided at these sites, fish passage 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 requests will be approved. If in the future, if conditions change to the extent that providing passage would benefit native migratory fish, these exemptions may be revoked.
In the meantime, members of the public will have until Jan. 10, 2014 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, 4034 Fairview Industrial Dr. SE, Salem, Ore. 97302, e-mail, Ken.J.Loffink@state.or.us, or by calling (503) 947-6256