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Corps Extends Comment Period For Detroit Dam Juvenile Salmon Fish Passage EIS
Posted on Friday, January 12, 2018 (PST)

It’s not too late to comment on the scope of studies for an environmental review of downstream salmon passage and temperature control for juvenile fish at Detroit Dam on the North Santiam River.


After two public open houses in December where the Corps took comments, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers extended its comment deadline from January 8 to January 23.


The public as well as some Congressional offices had asked for the extension, according to Corps spokesperson Tom Conning. He added that the initial comment period of 45 days already was 15 days longer than required, but December holidays occurred during the middle of the period.


Public comments are being collected as the first step in the Corps’ National Environmental Policy review as it develops an environmental impact statement.


The review will aid the Corps in developing a project that will provide downstream juvenile fish passage for Upper Willamette River chinook and temperature control at Detroit Dam. The Detroit Dam and Lake spans the Linn County–Marion County border in the Oregon Cascades on the North Santiam River near the city of Detroit


This first step in the Corps’ National Environmental Policy Act review is to “scope” the extent of the issues to be addressed. The final product in the NEPA process is the EIS for the project.


With the extension, the Corps will now take public comments through January 23 and evaluate the input from the public and others. It will incorporate the comments into a draft EIS, along with alternatives, a process the Corps anticipates completing by Fall 2018. The public will be invited to comment on the draft.


The last step after a final EIS is approved is the Record of Decision. There is no date set for the ROD.


The Corps operates and maintains 13 multipurpose dams and reservoirs (including Detroit Dam and Lake) and several fish hatcheries (operated by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife) in the Willamette River Basin in Oregon, collectively referred to as the Willamette Valley Project (see


The US Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service issued in 2008 their biological opinions for populations of Oregon chub, bull trout, spring chinook salmon and winter steelhead that inhabit the Willamette River and its tributaries. The Oregon chub has since been delisted, the first listed fish to do so. (See CBB, Jan. 19, 2017, “Study Shows Successful Reintroduction Of Oregon Chub Also A Genetic Success”


The actions identified in NMFS’s BiOp to avoid jeopardy include downstream fish passage at Detroit Dam and the minimization of water quality effects, temperature in particular, associated with operations of Detroit and Big Cliff dams, by making structure modifications or major operational changes.


Four sub-basins are the focus of the Corps’ salmon reintroduction programs: North Santiam River (Detroit and Big Cliff dams) and South Santiam (Green Peter and Foster dams), both for spring chinook and winter steelhead; South Fork of the McKenzie River (Cougar Dam) for spring chinook & bull trout; and Middle Fork of the Willamette River (Hills Creek, Dexter and Lookout Point dams) for spring chinook.


In 2008, the year the Willamette BiOp was issued, the total initial budget estimate to complete the requirements in the BiOp for such things as fish passage at the dams and habitat projects downstream was about $300 million. The revised budget estimate now has risen to $757 million.


In early November 2017, a coalition of conservation groups sent the Corps a notice of their intent to sue over efforts to protect Willamette River chinook and steelhead. That law suit has not been formally filed.


The groups are Wild Earth Guardians, Native Fish Society, Advocates for the West, and Northwest Environmental Defense Center.


Another lawsuit filed by The Conservation Angler and Willamette Riverkeeper in June 2017, over the impact of hatchery-produced summer steelhead on wild winter steelhead is in progress in a U.S. District Court in Eugene. The groups are asking the Court to force the Corps to stop producing summer steelhead until the agency initiates an Endangered Species Act consultation with NOAA Fisheries.


The purpose of the EIS is to analyze effects to the human environment, including ecological, aesthetic, historic, economic and social effects associated with the Corps’ efforts to enhance juvenile passage for ESA-listed fish through Detroit Dam, the Corps said in a press release. It will also analyze effects of modifying temperatures in the North Santiam and main stem Santiam rivers downstream of Detroit Dam so that operational temperature targets are optimized for adult and juvenile salmonids.


As part of the preparation of the EIS, the NEPA requires that there be an early and open process for determining the scope of issues to be addressed. During NEPA scoping, the Corps is seeking input on the Detroit Downstream Passage Project and the EIS from affected federal agencies, Native American tribes, state agencies, local governments and non-governmental organizations, stakeholders, and the public. Using input obtained during the scoping period, the Corps will refine the EIS to focus on significant issues, as well as eliminate insignificant issues from further detailed study


The public can learn about Detroit Dam and it authorized purposes; current alternatives for downstream fish passage and temperature control; the Corps’ and other interagency roles; the NEPA process; and submit written input on what to consider in the environmental review by visiting


Also see:


--CBB, December 8, 2017, “Corps Seeking Public Input On Detroit Dam Fish Passage, Temperature Control Scoping Process,”


--CBB, November 17, 2017, “Corps Seeks Comment On Willamette Valley Reservoir Storage Reallocation Draft Study,”


--CBB, November 3, 2017, “Conservation Groups Announce Intent To Sue Corps Over Willamette Chinook, Steelhead,”


--CBB, September 22, 2017, “Groups Amend Complaint In Wild Upper Willamette Winter Steelhead Litigation,”


--CBB, June 16, 2017, “Willamette BiOp For Fish: Four Subbasins Focus Of Corps’ Salmon Reintroduction Programs Above Dams,”


-- CBB, June 9, 2017, “Groups Sue Corps Over Upper Willamette Summer-Run Steelhead Hatchery Releases; Says Harm Wild Fish”


-- CBB, Sept. 23, 2016, “Trucking Spawning Salmon Above Willamette Dam Showing Success In Offspring Survival, Adult Returns”


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