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U.S. awards fish passage contract for stalled Elk Creek Dam

The Corps of Engineers awarded a $7.9 million contract to an Oregon firm to cut a fish passage notch through the partially built Elk Creek Dam northeast of Medford, Ore.

The Corps' Portland District announced March 14 it awarded the contract to McMillen-McDougall of Tualatin, Ore. The firm submitted a proposal in response to a solicitation for the work. (HNN 12/11/07)

Legal challenges halted construction of the dam in the 1970s, although Congress eventually appropriated funds to resume construction in fiscal year 1985. However, dam completion subsequently was halted by an injunction that the Corps chose not to contest further.

McMillen-McDougall is to design and carry out a project to remove a section of the dam and return Elk Creek to its original alignment and gradient through the resulting notch. The Corps said the notch and creek realignment provide the most cost effective and biologically sound way of providing �hands-off� mitigation of coho salmon and other native fish through the project area.

Work is expected to start in mid-May, with most of the construction of the notch itself occurring between early June and late July, the Corps said. The creek is expected to be restored to its original channel and a fish trap-and-haul facility removed by mid-September.

The Corps asked McMillen-McDougall to keep as much of the dam structure intact as possible, so that it could be incorporated into any future construction that might be authorized. The Corps included that provision in the contract in response to concerns expressed by local government leaders and agencies, who said future flood control and water storage might be needed.

�This project will provide passive fish passage that meets our responsibility under the Endangered Species Act, while still preserving the majority of the federal investment should future generations decide the dam should be completed," Portland District Commander Col. Thomas O'Donovan said.

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