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A break for fish

Local editorials

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36;1,300 opens the way for salmon to reach Jacksonville someday

By the end of this decade, salmon may well be finding their way into Jacksonville.

If this sounds implausible, you're not alone in thinking so, considering that salmon passage has been blocked on Jackson Creek for more than a half-century.

But a simple, inexpensive project put together by the Oregon Department of Transportation, with help from the Oregon Plan for Salmon Restoration, is making the implausible sound altogether possible.

The project changed the water flow through a huge culvert beneath I-5 recently ' and opened more than 10 miles of spawning habitat for salmon.

With salmon now heading into Central Point subdivisions ' and another culvert project being discussed ' by the end of this decade the big fish could make it all the way to Jacksonville.

— The restoration plan targets streams and restores them to more friendly conditions for fish. The project was overseen by Jerry Marmon, ODOT's regional environmental coordinator.

The Jackson Creek culvert under I-5 was found to be among the worst hindrances because it blocked fish passage to all but a small amount of Jackson Creek. Because of its design, water often ran only an inch or so deep, not enough for fish to navigate.

It's not realistic to replace culverts under I-5, so ODOT decided to retrofit the offending ones instead. The new setup, using a system of weirs, raises the water level 6 to 7 inches, making it possible for the fish to swim through.

Amazingly, the entire culvert project cost only &

36;1,300.

The fish passage project shows that not every environmental project has to cost a bundle. Sometimes a small amount of money, combined with a good plan, can help undo some of the damage we've inflicted on the environment.

What a great investment ' and a beautiful sight ' it would be if one day the residents of Jacksonville again see salmon splashing their way upstream.

City Hall deserves more

Maybe the city of Medford just can't win with us on this issue. When it first discussed a landscaping proposal for City Hall in the aftermath of a major renovation, we were critical of the potential expense.

Now the city has decided to go with a pared-down plan. And now we have concerns that city officials will be too frugal.

Last week, the City Council rejected a landscaping plan that came in at &

36;465,000, nearly double the city's estimate. That was clearly a good decision at a time when public services are being cut back across the state.

But we're less certain about the decision to table the discussion of landscaping and to simply plant grass on the City Hall grounds for now. We agree with Councilman John Michaels, who called the site a centerpiece for the city.

Prior to the recent work to make the building more earthquake resistant, City Hall's grounds have been a source of pride and beauty. We don't doubt that city officials are aware of that and will make every effort to preserve that beauty without breaking the bank.

But we hope that in tabling the decision on landscaping, the council hasn't set the stage for City Hall grounds that pale in comparison to their former glory.