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Oregon Salmon Finally Free of Savage Dam

Beginning October 9, 2009, the Rogue River flowed free through Oregon for the first time in 88 years. NOAA Fisheries produced a biological opinion and EFH consultation document for the Bureau of Reclamation's (Reclamation) proposed action to improve fish passage at Savage Rapids Dam by removing the dam and replacing the water diversion with pumps. Working alongside U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW), Reclamation, Army Corps of Engineers, Slayden Construction, and Waterwatch, NOAA guided the complex dam removal process. The three-year process minimized adverse effects of construction activities while maintaining passage for Coho and Chinook salmon during the deconstruction phase.

The removal of the Savage Rapids Dam was next in a series of dam removals which included the Elk Creek and Gold Hill Dams. With the removal of Gold Ray Dam this year, the Rogue River will flow freely from the base of Lost Creek Dam downstream and open 153 miles of waters for Coho salmon and Chinook salmon to the Pacific Ocean. An estimated 22 percent of Coho salmon perished each year due to the Savage Rapids Dam.

The Rogue River sustains five runs of salmon and steelhead, including Southern Oregon/Northern California Coho salmon, which are listed as a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The $40 million project is believed to be one of the largest dam removals ever undertaken in the U.S.


Oregon Salmon Finally Free of Savage Dam