An Oregon construction firm that already has two Rogue River dam removals under its belt has won the contract to study and remove Gold Ray Dam, which would open 157 miles of free-flowing Rogue to the ocean.

An Oregon construction firm that already has two Rogue River dam removals under its belt has won the contract to study and remove Gold Ray Dam, which would open 157 miles of free-flowing Rogue to the ocean.

Jackson County officials this afternoon announced that they tentatively have awarded the $5.5 million contract to Slayden Construction Group of Stayton.

The county issued its intent to award the contract to Slayden after spending two days reviewing five bid proposals that came in to remove the 105-year-old dam should its environmental studies point to removal as the best option.

The decommissioned hydroelectric dam is owned by the county, which fears liability for the aged structure and current fish ladder that does not meet federal standards.

The project will be funded mainly through a $5 million federal stimulus grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which requires the project to be done by the end of 2010.

Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board officials have said previously they plan to work with the county to fill in any funding gaps for the project.

The Jackson County Board of Commissioners has yet to decide to remove the dam, saying it will wait for public input and the results of environmental studies before deciding the dam's fate.

Slayden won the contract to remove the Gold Hill diversion dam last year and is removing Savage Rapids Dam from the Rogue near the Jackson/Josephine county line.

— Mark Freeman