The Rogue River’s Gold Ray Dam may be removed

The Medford Mail Tribune reported today that Jackson County received a $100,000 grant to study the composition of sediment behind the century old Gold Ray dam. This is a necessary first step in determining whether to notch, remove or improve passage at the 35 foot tall structure.

Gold Ray dam is a former hydroelectric dam that was decommissioned 35 years ago. With the removal of both Savage Rapids and Gold Hill diversion dam planned and in process, Gold Ray will become the last barrier to a free flowing river for 157 miles from the Pacific to Lost Creek Lake. In fact, improving or removing Gold Ray dam is ODFW’s fifth highest priority for enhancing salmonid passage in the entire state of Oregon. Once Savage Rapids and Gold Hill dams are removed, Gold Ray will remain the single largest artificial barrier in the basin. Upstream of Gold Ray there are 333 miles of spawning and rearing habitat available to sixth different runs of salmonids.

“We’re been wanting to do something for years, but funding hasn’t been there,” said Lin Bernhardt, the county’s natural resources manager. “Now, for fish-passage reasons, the priorities have increased and the attention has increased.

“It’s doing absolutely no good. In fact, it’s doing lots of harm,” Bernhardt said. “We need to figure out how to deal with those issues.”

This should be good news for the Rogue’s salmon and steelhead populations.–Karl

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