The construction of the new dam, and the permitting requirements imposed by the Oregon Water Resources Department to store water, are both triggers to ODFW fish passage requirements.
Historically, Needy Creek provided habitat for native migratory fish species such as cutthroat trout, said Ken Loffink, ODFW Assistant Fish Passage Coordinator. ODFW has concluded that no cutthroat trout currently persist in Needy Creek or the approximate 5,000 feet of historic fish habitat located upstream of the proposed dam site.
ODFW may grant the exemption if there is no appreciable benefit to fish from providing passage. According to Loffink, potential fish distribution in the Needy Creek basin has been limited by land use that has altered the quality of stream habitat, and by artificial obstructions to fish passage immediately upstream and downstream of the proposed dam site. In addition, Needy Creek is a low gradient, well vegetated system that naturally may not have supported a significant population of fish. Because of these site conditions, Loffink said ODFW has made an initial determination that even if fish passage was provided at the proposed new dam, the action would not result in an appreciable benefit to native migratory fish.
Therefore, unless the Department receives public comment that would affect its determination, the exemption request will be approved. If in the future, conditions in Needy Creek change to the extent that providing passage would benefit native migratory fish, this exemption may be revoked.
In the meantime, members of the public will have until Nov. 25, 2013 to submit written comments on the proposed plan. The fish passage exemption application and the Department’s benefit analysis are available at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/passage/.
Members of the public can send written comments to or request additional information from Ken Loffink, ODFW Assistant Fish Passage Program Coordinator, 4034 Fairview Industrial Dr. SE, Salem, Ore. 97302, e-mail, Ken.J.Loffink@state.or.us, or by calling(503) 947-6256.