June 2, 2014
SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) is seeking public comment on a request to exempt from fish passage requirements a proposed dam and culvert replacement on Sand Creek, a tributary to the Nestucca River located near Pacific City, OR. Comments are due by June 23, 2014.
The dam, which is owned by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, forms Town Lake, a popular trout and bass fishery. The culvert, owned by Tillamook County, is located immediately downstream and conveys Sand Creek under Sandlake Rd. Both the dam structure and culvert are failing and in need of replacement. The replacement of existing artificial obstructions, such as dams and culverts, triggers ODFW fish passage requirements.
Recent surveys upstream of the dam did not find any native migratory fish such as cutthroat trout or lamprey. However, ODFW biologists believe it is likely some cutthroat trout inhabit this stretch of the creek.
According to Ken Loffink, ODFW Assistant Fish Passage Coordinator, ODFW may grant the exemption if there is no appreciable benefit to fish from providing passage. In Sand Creek, a series of natural barriers 100 feet below the dam and culvert block all upstream fish migration to the project site and the approximately 2000 feet of habitat located upstream of the dam and culvert. Given that a complete natural barrier exists 100 feet downstream of the dam and culvert, Loffink said ODFW has made an initial determination that even if fish passage was provided at the proposed new dam and 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 Sand Creek change to the extent that providing passage at this site would benefit native migratory fish, this exemption may be revoked.
In the meantime, members of the public will have until June 20, 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, OR 97302 e-mail, Ken.J.Loffink@state.or.us, or by calling (503) 947-6256.
Ken Loffink (503) 947-6256
Jessica Sall (503) 947-6023