Comments sought on Ochoco Irrigation District proposed hydro project fish passage waiver


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SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) – The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking public comment on a request to provide a waiver from the state’s fish passage requirements for a new hydroelectric project situated on the Crooked River at the Bowman Dam in Crook County.

Comments are due by Monday June 22.

The applicant, the Ochoco Irrigation District, secured a preliminary permit from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to install a hydroelectric power plant at Bowman Dam, located about 20 miles upstream of Prineville and owned and managed by the federal Bureau of Reclamation.

This action has triggered Oregon’s fish passage laws. The applicant has requested a fish passage waiver in lieu of providing passage at Bowman Dam. In exchange for not providing fish passage at the Dam, the applicant has proposed mitigation actions identified in the waiver application.

According to the executive summary of
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, they include gravel augmentation to increase spawning habitat, a provision of fish passage in Ochoco Creek and funding for habitat restoration at the Ochoco Preserve, a 185-acre stream restoration restoration site at the confluence of Ochoco Creek and the Crooked River.

According to Greg Apke, ODFW Fish Passage Program coordinator, the department or the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission may authorize a fish passage waiver if there are appreciable benefits to native migratory fish greater at the mitigation site(s), compared to if passage were provided at Bowman Dam.

ODFW has completed a net benefit analysis and a recommendation to the commission that the proposed mitigation actions will not provide greater benefits than if passage were provided at the dam.

This fish passage waiver application, along with the ODFW net benefit analysis and public comments, will be presented to the Oregon Fish Passage Task Force for their recommendation at an upcoming virtual public meeting on Friday, June 26.

In addition to the task force meeting, ODFW said it anticipates this action will be considered by the commission at a future meeting date yet to be determined.

In the meantime, members of the public will have until June 22 to submit written comments on the proposed request and the department’s benefit analysis. The fish passage waiver application, the department’s benefit analyses and additional documentation provided by the applicant are available at
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Members of the public can send written comments to or request additional information from Ted Wise, ODFW East Region Hydropower Program Coordinator, at 61374 Parrell Road Bend, OR 97702, by e-mail, [email protected], or by calling (541) 633-1115. Comments are due by June 22.

Task force and commission meetings are open to the public and public testimony on this action can be provided.