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Crook County

Ochoco Irrigation’s request for Bowman Dam fish passage waiver rejected

Bowman Dam 2
City of Prineville
Bowman Dam

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission voted to deny a fish passage waiver for Bowman Dam in a split 5-1 vote at their meeting Friday, after testimony from 28 people both for and against the project.

The waiver request was made by the Ochoco Irrigation District for its proposed hydroelectric project to be located on Bowman Dam, near Prineville on the Crooked River.

State statutes require that new hydroelectric projects provide fish passage and that other fish and wildlife concerns are addressed. Fish passage waivers may be granted provided the requester undertakes other projects to provide a net benefit to native migratory fish as compared to passage at the triggering obstruction.

In their deliberations, commissioners said they recognized the benefits of the proposed mitigation package, but that additional mitigation measures are necessary.  

Ochoco Irrigation District partnered with the city of Prineville and Crook County for the Bowman Dam hydro project, which they said "will benefit the community while positioning themselves for long-term sustainability."

The involved agencies said the hydro project has an estimated cost of $15 million -- but fish passage would add an estimated $40 million to the cost, making the small-hydro project infeasible.

For more details, visit this city webpage.

The commission chose to deny the waiver (as recommended by the Fish Passage Task Force and ODFW staff), agreeing that Ochoco's proposed mitigation does not provide adequate benefit.

In other action, the commission also made changes to the rules for Wildlife Control Operators which add wild turkeys to the list of species these private businesses can address. Turkeys can cause damage and be a nuisance in urban and suburban areas.

Under the new rules, WCOs will be able to address wild turkey complaints under certain constraints. For example, WCOs will be able to remove turkeys causing property damage or being aggressive and salvage the meat for donation, or potentially release turkeys to ODFW-approved locations.

The commission was also briefed on monitoring and management of wild steelhead on the Oregon coast, the Willamette Wildlife Mitigation Program and wildlife connectivity issues in the state.

The meeting was livestreamed and the video is available at ODFW's YouTube Channel,

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      1. So, how many fish pass the dam now? Do you think this will “keep a prehistoric salmon run”? Maybe you should think before you type. Perhaps comment on things you know about? It is incredibly irritating when people spout of on subjects they are entirely ignorant of. Maybe that was considered ok back home in California?

        The dam is already there. It has no fish passage. The salmon run effectively ended long ago. This project would have produced clean energy for a few thousand homes. It would have included habitat restoration for other fisheries. It would not add fish passage at the dam due to huge costs that don’t really seem effective anyhow.

        End result…. no new jobs, no clean energy, no help for any fish. Brilliant!

  1. Pacific Salmon. $10 a pound at Safeway.

    Always a hoot watching environmentalists out environmental each other. Save the salmon. Then the sea lions eat the salmon. Then the save the salmon people want to kill the sea lions to save the salmon. Then the save the sea lion people come out. Then throw in a frog, a salamander, and an owl and the party gets really good. Like a coven of Disney witches cooking up a magical potion.

  2. WHY ? Was this not addressed before the Ochoco I. Dist even put the project up for bids? The Crooked river is so full of sCRAP fish now that only the O(regon) D(etrimental) F(oundation) W(ithout) a clue could have come to this ridiculous conclusion. If anyone thinks another $40 mil would solve a non-existent problem – wait until they bring in the experts from the Army Core Of Engineers.

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