The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers yesterday
awarded a $7.9 million contract to McMillen-McDougall of Tualatin, Ore., to
create a fish passage corridor through Elk Creek Dam.
Construction of the dam was authorized by
Congress in 1962 and started in 1971, but halted by legal action in 1988 at
one-third of its design height.
Since that time several attempts were made to
start and/or demolish the dam. Finally, a trap and haul process compromise was
reached between the corps and community. And that has been underway for several
McMillen-McDougall will design and carry out
a project to remove a section of the incomplete dam and return Elk Creek to its
original alignment and gradient through the resulting notch.
According to the Corps, the notch and creek
realignment will provide the most cost effective and biologically sound way of
providing "hands off" migration of coho salmon and other native fish
through the project area.
Responding to concerns from local government
leaders and agencies about the need for future flood control and water storage,
the Corps asked McMillen-McDougall to keep as much of the existing structure as
possible intact, so that it can be incorporated into any future construction
that might be authorized.
"This project will provide passive fish
passage that meets our responsibility under the Endangered Species Act, while
still preserving the majority of the federal investment should future
generations decide the dam should be completed," said Portland District
Commander Col. Thomas O’Donovan.
On-site work is expected to start in mid-May,
with most of the construction of the notch itself occurring between early June
and late July. The creek is expected to
be restored to its original channel and the current fish trap-and-haul facility
removed by mid-September.