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Decision Signed To Remove Hemlock Dam

Copies available at ranger station in Trout Lake

Mt. Adams District Ranger Nancy Ryke signed a Record of Decision (ROD) today calling for removal of 70-year-old Hemlock Dam northwest of Carson.

Ryke chose Alternative C of the final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Hemlock Dam Fish Passage and Aquatic Habitat Restoration Project.

It calls for dredging years worth of sediment that has built up behind the CCC structure before the dam itself is removed. Implementation is expected to begin in 2007, which will allow time for acquiring funding for the project.

Ryke's decision is subject to a 45-day appeal period. Individuals or organizations who submitted substantive comments to the draft EIS are eligible to appeal the decision.

"Removing the dam and its sediment is the best way to fulfill our obligation to enhance fish passage for threatened steelhead," Ryke said.

"We have put a lot of effort into this study, and I believe it's the right course of action to achieve our objectives for steelhead recovery."

Hemlock Dam is located on Trout Creek, a tributary to the Wind River, approximately 10 miles northwest of Carson. The dam has been identified as an impediment to the migration and survival of Lower Columbia River steelhead, a fish that is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

The final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), issued in October by the Mount Adams Ranger District of the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, recommended removing the 70-year-old dam and dredging out a majority of the sediment that has built up behind the dam over the past several decades.

The "preferred alternative" best meets the need to improve fish passage, water quality and habitat conditions in lower Trout Creek.

The FEIS is the culmination of four years of study, which included numerous opportunities for public comment.

The concrete dam was built in 1935 by the CCC to supply electricity for the Wind River Ranger District. A fish ladder was added the next year. The dam later was converted to provide irrigation water for the Wind River Nursery, which closed in 1996. Currently the dam's chief function is providing a shallow reservoir for recreation.

Copies of the FEIS and ROD may be obtained from the Mount Adams District office in Trout Lake, 395-3400, at local libraries, or online at: http://www.fs.fed.us/gpnf/04projects/hemlock-dam/index.shtml

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