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Illinois River dam now top Rogue Basin fish-passage target

I know it’s been a while since the Rogue River has seen some significant dam removals for salmon and steelhead. I recall that the state used to keep a prioritized list of dams it wants removed. With Savage Rapids and Gold Ray dams gone, what dam does the state target now in the Rogue?

— Seth, Medford

You’re right, Seth, that the Rogue Basin has seen its share of dam removals, and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife still keeps a list of its priorities for removing fish barriers such as dams and culverts.

The current list has the top 10 barriers in ODFW’s cross-hairs, and then others are listed in groups of 20.

The highest-ranked impediment in the Rogue Basin is Pomeroy Dam on the Illinois River at the Q Bar X Ranch, according to the list. It’s considered an impediment to the migration of wild fall chinook, threatened coho salmon, Pacific lamprey, suckers and cutthroat trout, the list states.

Pomeroy Dam is listed in Group 1, which is the first group outside the top 10 on the list.

The next-highest ranking barrier targeted on the list is the Applegate River’s Murphy Dam, which is high up in Group 2, so there are at least 30 impediments seen as higher priorities for removals.

The list’s top 10 are dominated by U.S. Army Corps of Engineers facilities, with Lookout Point Dam on the Middle Fork of the Willamette River first on the list. The Upper Klamath River’s Keno and John C. Boyle dams owned by PacificCorp are also in that dubious category.

The current list of 591 barriers, broken into 17 groups, was approved in April by the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission, says Alan Ritchey, ODFW’s fish screens and passage program manager.

It’s the first list update since 2013, and 75 of the sites from that list have had some sort of fish-passage improvements, Rictchey says.

Send questions to “Since You Asked,” Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@rosebudmedia.com. We’re sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.