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Leaburg Dam construction

Pile drivers are part of the equipment being used to bolster the base of a concrete fish ladder at the Leaburg Dam.

LEABURG: A Eugene Water & Electric Board contractor mobilized equipment in late February to begin a project to reinforce the fish ladder on the south side of Leaburg Dam on the McKenzie River. The area beneath the structure’s concrete foundation has been scoured out and eroded since it was built in the late 1960s, requiring substantial reinforcement to prevent the ladder from tipping.

 

OSU stream researchersA new analysis of river basins in the western United States suggests that climate change will have the greatest impact on summer stream flows in those waterways that might seem less vulnerable – the large, snow-fed rivers that originate in the high Cascades and other mountain ranges.
Though these iconic rivers – including the McKenzie, Willamette, Deschutes, Klamath and Rogue – appear to have plenty of water, they also may be among the most sensitive to climate change, the study concludes.
“These are big rivers fed by snow that enters deep groundwater systems with highly permeable geology,” said Mohammad Safeeq, a post-doctoral researcher at Oregon State University and lead author on the study. “Their response to climate change involves more than just a change in snowfall patterns – the steepness of the terrain and the ‘drainage efficiency’ of the system are just as important to flow rates.

Sheriff Tom TurnerNIMROD: “We’re trying very hard to do the best we can with what we have,” Lane County Sheriff Tom Turner told people at last week’s McKenzie River Chamber of Commerce meeting. “This levy is all people can stand for in these economic times.”
Turner was referring to a property tax levy that will come before voters on the May 21st ballot. It would allow the county to hire staff and reopen 120 beds in the jail, bringing the total space for county inmates to 255 for a five-year period. It would also add 16 beds for underage offenders in the juvenile justice center, including eight for intensive drug, alcohol and mental health treatment.
The “jails only” tax proposal marks the tenth time Lane County will be asking voters to kick in more for law enforcement since 1998. All others have failed.
“This is an absolute minimal request,” Turner said. “It generates enough money a year to open a specific number of beds.”

Releasing a salmonA bill intended to protect salmon from gold dredges could impact property owners in McKenzie Bridge, Rainbow, Blue River and Finn Rock.

SALEM: A move to regulate gold mining could impact area property owners. Oregon Senate Bill 401, recently introduced by Senator Alan Bates (D-Medford/Ashland), would bring 30 more rivers (including additional portions of the McKenzie) into the State Scenic Waterways program. Supporters say the move is in recognition of outstanding scenic vistas, value to fish and wildlife, and the streams importance as sources of drinking water.

Releasing a salmonA bill intended to protect salmon from gold dredges could impact property owners in McKenzie Bridge, Rainbow, Blue River and Finn Rock.

SALEM: A move to regulate gold mining could impact area property owners. Oregon Senate Bill 401, recently introduced by Senator Alan Bates (D-Medford/Ashland), would bring 30 more rivers (including additional portions of the McKenzie) into the State Scenic Waterways program. Supporters say the move is in recognition of outstanding scenic vistas, value to fish and wildlife, and the streams importance as sources of drinking water.

Shed hunters in OregonA growing number of people take to the woods during winter, looking for antlers shed by Oregon’s deer and elk. Deer usually shed theirs from late December through March, and elk from late February through early April.

McKenzie land ownershipLEABURG: The Eugene Water & Electric Board is sponsoring a process that could result in annual dividend payments to landowners in a stewardship zone of riparian forests and floodplains along the McKenzie River. The proposed Voluntary Incentives Program (VIP) may include private landowners, local governments, and non-profit organizations that own land within the designated boundary. Based on EWEB’s preliminary analysis, an estimated 6,500 acres along the McKenzie and major tributaries would be eligible to enroll.
The VIP process is envisioned as a way to maintain and improve water quality within the McKenzie River Watershed, Eugene’s sole source of drinking water.

 

Trapper Project mapMCKENZIE BRIDGE: The McKenzie River Ranger District is seeking public input on the Revised Trapper Project, located north of the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest. The Trapper Project was part of a 1997 study designed to use timber harvest and prescribed fire to emulate natural processes.
The latest plan is the result of a 2011 court directive to the Forest Service to review the project and determine impacts to the Northern Spotted Owls as well as the learning value of the project, while also complying with changing standards for environmental review. The result includes significant changes.

 

Map of Homestead CampgroundBLUE RIVER: Efforts to reintroduce Chinook salmon in about 24 miles of high quality spawning and rearing habitat at Cougar Reservoir have included the construction of a truck fish and haul facility. The structure is part of an ongoing program to capture adult fish below the dam and transport them by truck to various locations above it, where they are released.

The trap and haul operation extends from late May to mid-October. The current method for “unloading” the fish from the transport trucks can be limited by terrain and poor access to desirable pools. Officials say this results in excessive and rough handling of the fish during the release process and increases the physiological stress on them. As a result, mortality rates are elevated and spawning success is reduced.

Face of Blue River DamPhoto Courtesy U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Discussed for decades, the addition of a generator to the Blue River Dam could become a reality.

BLUE RIVER: The off-again, on-again plans to add a hydroelectric generator to the Blue River Dam have been revived by Qualified Hydro 15, LLC of Boston, Massachusetts. The Eugene Water & Electric Board analyzed the economics of the project several times since construction was halted in 1994 but was not able to come up with an economic justification for moving forward.

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McKenzie River Reflections is the weekly newspaper serving Oregon's McKenzie River Valley. Available by mail for $23/yr in Lane County, $29/yr outside Lane. Digital subscriptions are $23/yr. Subscribe at: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/subscriptions-0. Purchase copies online at: http://mckenzieriverreflectionsnewspaper.com/catalog/back-issues-0. Read about area communities including Cedar Flat, Walterville, Camp Creek, Leaburg, Vida, Nimrod, Finn Rock, Blue River, Rainbow and McKenzie Bridge.