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Corps hopes to clear Lost Creek Lake of debris

Lost Creek Lake water managers are hoping to hire a contractor to corral and eventually help remove huge swaths of woody debris from the lake's surface before the summer boating season begins.

Jim Buck, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Rogue Basin project manager, says he has asked his agency to draft a bid request and fast-track the process to hire a contractor to remove the lake's worst log jam in years to make it safer for wakeboarders and other boaters there.

Plans are to have the contractor build large log booms to corral the debris and tow it to one or two coves for storage until the logs can either be sold as merchantable timber, stacked for firewood or burned, Buck says.

The plan means the contractor would do the log roundup in early May when the reservoir is at its highest and have the coves filled before the lake starts to drop appreciably as early as late May, Buck says.

"That is exceptionally ambitious," Buck says. "The biggest challenge will be the timing, but we're going to make an attempt to get it done.

"The goal is getting the stuff corralled up and tucked away," Buck says. "Once we do that, we have time to work out all the other details."

Buck has sent a "Statement of Work" to the Corps' Portland District contract division for drafting. The agency has an in-house estimate of what the work will cost, but the Corps will not disclose that estimate because of its potential influence on the bidding process, Buck says.

Two large high-water events in December washed the debris down the Rogue River and into the reservoir in levels not seen in about 20 years.

"This is my 17th year here and I've not seen any quantity of debris like this," Buck says.

Initially, the debris remained largely upstream of Peyton Bridge, where Highway 62 bisects the lake. The waters upstream of the bridge are a "Slow No Wake" zone largely eschewed by wakeboarders and other watersports enthusiasts.

Then the debris washed downstream and collected largely near the spillway and somewhat out of the way of boat traffic.

It has since gone on the move again.

"Even on days when there's not a breath of wind, it's still moving around," Buck says.

Buck says the possible storage coves include a shallow cove near the reservoir's Takelma Boat Ramp because it is easily accessible. Another option is Catfish Cove higher up in the reservoir.

Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470 or mfreeman@mailtribune.com. Follow him at www.twitter.com/MTwriterFreeman.