Restoring free-flowing rivers is no small task, but sometimes, we get the chance to celebrate victories. There's certainly reason to celebrate in Oregon where the Western Environmental Law Center, representing Rogue Flyfishers, Rogue Riverkeeper, and Waterwatch of Oregon, has been working extensively to ensure the removal of Gold Ray Dam on the Rogue River.
$5 million of federal stimulus money was granted in 2009 to remove the dam, but the project was put on hold when adjacent landowners sued twice to seek to prevent removal. WELC intervened in both proceedings, and after a hearing in federal court in Medford, the judge lifted a temporary restraining order and allowed the demolition to proceed.
That means removal of Gold Ray Dam is well on its way, ensuring that the Rogue River will flow freely for 157 miles. The removal of Gold Ray, whose hydrofacilities have been out of use since 1972, is a win for both the environment and recreationists. In fact the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife ranks removing the Gold Ray dam as among its highest priorities for restoring wild coho salmon in Oregon, because of impediments to upstream migration of wild salmon to spawning grounds above the dam and the warm slackwater reservoir, home to invasive fish species, that the dam created.
Now those salmon can swim freely and the rest of us can enjoy 157 miles of unobstructed Rogue!
Want to check out a live-camera showing construction of the temporary coffer dam being built to divert the river so that the dam can be removed, and the river restored? Click here.