Corps officials: SH-area lakes won’t get work done at Detroit

Audrey Caro

Project managers from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers briefed Linn County Commissioners last week on the Willamette Valley Project, a system of 13 dams and reservoirs in the Willamette River basin.

Erik Petersen, Willamette Valley Operations Project manager, said during a briefing to the commission on Jan. 16 that he wanted to clarify some issues he had heard about in recent news articles related to Foster Lake and Sweet Home.

Under the Endangered Species Act, the Corps is required perform “an assessment of the project and its operations’ impact on certain listed species,” according the Corps website. The Willamete Valley Proiject is a series of 13 dams, including Green Peter, Foster and Detroit, operated by the Corps’ Portland District in the Willamette River basin.

A Biological Opinion the Corps released in 2008 “identified the required actions to avoid jeopardizing the existence of ESA listed fish in the Willamette basin.

“These 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,” according the site.

Though the current modifications concern Detroit and Big Cliff, a recent news article cited commissioners’ concerns about potential impacts to the Foster Reservoir and Green Peter Dam.

“I heard, Will (Tucker) that you are concerned in particular about impacts to Foster Reservoir and the economy in Sweet Home and I certainly appreciate that,” Petersen said. “Foster is a really different configuration.”

Petersen said Corps officials don’t anticipate putting a temperature control tower at Green Peter, which they are looking into doing at Detroit Dam.

“We move fish through Foster,” Petersen said.

“We’ve got a weir going in the middle of February this year. It’s a much smaller scope and scale of activity. We’ll get some news coverage on that when it happens, but it’s just another animal altogether that won’t have impacts on the reservoir.”