The Army Corps of Engineers has issued the final environmental assessment and finding that there is no significant impact for their plan to notch the dam and create a fish passage.
Elk Creek Dam started with a less than straight forward history. It was initially approved in 1971 but then deferred until 1977 when funding was in short supply. In 1981, the state gave the go ahead for construction and funds were appropriated. Construction resumed in 1985. An injunction occurred and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals shut the construction down in April 1995.
Since that time several attempts have been made to start and/or demolish the dam. Finally, a trap and haul process was a compromise between the Corps and the community. But it was not to be a final solution, each "side" continue their efforts until last year when the Corps released its current plan.
The Corps plan calls for removing a section of the dam and returning Elk Creek to its original alignment. They say this will help fish movement. The structure can be used as the completed dam’s foundation, according to the Corps, should that ever be a future plan.
A total of 316 comments on the draft EA were received with 287 supporting the proposed notching, according to the Corps. Those opposed were concerned about the loss of flood control and water supply. Heavy rains find water gushing down Elk Creek into the Rogue just below Lost Creek. The Corps said they have added discussion on flood control and water supply to the final EA. The county asked that the flood lpain map be updated, but the Corps said Elk Creek Dam does not provide any flood protection so there would be change in the flood plain mapping.
A contract will be issued in the very near future with work to begin in earnest by mid-June.
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent