May 9, 2012
SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking public comment on a request for a fish passage waiver for an emergency culvert replacement on the Silver Falls Highway (Highway 214) at milepost (MP) 11.7 near Aumsville.
The Oregon Department of Transportation took emergency action in the fall of 2009 to replace a failing and dangerous culvert on an unnamed tributary of Simpson Creek. The culvert replacement triggered Oregon’s Fish Passage law. Because the new culvert does not meet ODFW fish passage requirements, ODOT has proposed providing mitigation on a nearby stream in lieu of passage.
The public has until May 30, 2012 to comment on the proposed waiver.
Historically, the unnamed tributary to Simpson Creek, a tributary of Beaver Creek in the Mill Creek watershed provided .75 miles of habitat for native migratory fish species such as cutthroat trout, pacific lamprey and steelhead upstream of the MP 11.7 culvert. The replacement culvert at MP 11.7 is undersized and considered a partial barrier to native migratory fish. The fish habitat above the culvert is of poor to fair quality, consisting of farmland with limited riparian areas and fair spawning and rearing habitats. Cutthroat trout, the only native migratory fish species above the culvert, currently use only about .45 miles of this habitat.
ODOT has proposed mitigation that would provide fish passage through a culvert replacement project on an unnamed tributary of Simpson Creek at MP 13.9 on the Silver Falls Highway. ODOT will be replacing the current culvert which is also categorized as a partial barrier to fish passage, to a more severe degree than the culvert at MP 11.7. The new culvert will open approximately 2.1 miles of fair to good quality spawning and rearing habitat to cutthroat trout, lamprey species and possibly steelhead.
According to Ken Loffink, ODFW assistant Fish Passage Program coordinator, ODFW can grant a fish passage waiver if the proposed mitigation provides greater net benefit to native migratory fish, than would have occurred if passage had been provided at the triggered culvert. ODFW has made an initial determination that the proposed mitigation will provide a net benefit to cutthroat trout, lamprey species and possibly steelhead.
Therefore, unless the Department receives public comments that would affect its determination, the waiver request will be approved.
Members of the public will have until May 30, 2012 to submit written comments on the proposed plan. The fish passage waiver 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, 3406 NE Cherry Ave. NE, Salem, OR 97303, e-mail, Ken.J.Loffink@state.or.us, or by calling (503) 947-6256.