February 27, 2019
In 1972 the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) contracted with the people of the State of Oregon to mitigate the loss of Spring Chinook habitat due to the Lost Creek Dam project by constructing the Cole River Hatchery. Part of that contract mandated 13,020 Spring Chinook adults, per year, return to the Cole M. Rivers Hatchery. The contract specified the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) was to achieve those mitigation results for the blocked habitat. Curry County alleges, and ODFW has agreed, that ODFW failed to meet the mandated mitigation numbers.
The negative impact to the health and sustainability of this historically important regional fish population and fishery has been significant, and, to date restoration and mitigation efforts have shown to be vastly insufficient and rely on harvest curtailments, not habitat or mitigation needs. It is estimated the failure to fulfill the contractual obligations has resulted in approximately an annual $15 million in lost economic opportunity and $260 million dollars over the last 20 years. (See Exhibit A)
The Curry County Board of Commissioners, and the Josephine County Board of Commissioners, issue this Statement of No Confidence in the Army Corps of Engineers and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to fulfill their contractual obligations to mitigate impacts of the Lost Creek Dam Project. The counties demand contractual obligations be satisfied, specifically:
- Hatchery contractual requirements of 13,020 adult Spring Chinook, of hatchery origin, return annually to Cole Rivers Hatchery as outlined in the Environmental Impact Statement of 1972.
- That the USACE adheres to a ‘No Harm Policy’ related to Spring Chinook as stated in the Lost Creek Dam Project Authorization. That policy reads, “any flood control plan detrimental to the fishery resource would be unacceptable, both locally and to the Federal and State fishery agencies”.
- That USACE rectify claims that resulted and continue to inflict severe negative impacts to Wild/NP Spring Chinook population and local/regional economies.
- During hearings USACE stated that there would be no loss to spawning gravel below the dam, and thus, did not allow for the eventuality of derogated spawning habitat found below the dam today. ODFW did not challenge this allegedly false premise put forth by the USACE. It is demanded USACE and ODFW mitigate for lost spawning gravel in the Upper Rogue to restore Wild/NP Spring Chinook to pre-dam population levels below the Lost Creek Dam project.
- That ODFW and USACE rebuild and/or make whole the once famous Rogue River Spring Chinook fishery and the economy it supported prior to the Lost Creek Dam project.
On behalf of the Curry County Board of Commissioners, and the Josephine County Board of Commissioners, we request the Army Corps of Engineers and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife fulfill their contractual obligations to mitigate for impacts of the Lost Creek Dam Project.
Chair, Board of Commissioners Curry County, Oregon
Lily N Morgan
Chair, Board of Commissioners Josephine County, Oregon