Newly Launched Open Rivers Fund Supports Fish Passage Barrier Removal and River Restoration in the Rogue River Basin

Alain and Jody Herriott are among 19 property owners who use water that’s diverted by the small dam and support the dam removal. (Credit: Justin Clifton)
Alain and Jody Herriott are among 19 property owners who use water that’s diverted by the small dam and support the dam removal. (Credit: Justin Clifton)

Central Point, Ore. – November 29, 2016 – Today, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and Resources Legacy Fund announced the creation of the Open Rivers Fund to support local efforts to remove obsolete dams and restore watersheds across the western United States. The Open Rivers Fund, which is a program of Resources Legacy Fund supported by a 50th anniversary grant from the Hewlett Foundation, will make inaugural grants to the Rogue River Watershed Council and Rogue Basin Partnership to pursue river restoration, dam removal, and infrastructure modernization in the Rogue River Basin over the next ten years.

This watershed approach to river restoration builds on the momentum generated from removal of Gold Hill Dam, Savage Rapids Dam and Gold Ray Dam on the Rogue River main stem, which is now free-flowing for more than 150 miles. The Rogue Basin Partnership is coordinating the efforts of local groups to restore flows and modernize infrastructure on the tributaries of the Rogue River. “Hundreds of dams, road culverts, and other structures prevent fish from reaching hundreds of miles of spawning and rearing habitat throughout the Rogue Basin,” said Sam Whitridge, Managing Director for the Rogue Basin Partnership. “Several member organizations of the Rogue Basin Partnership are building on the legacy of successful, main stem Rogue dam removal by improving migratory fish access in the streams that flow into the Rogue. It is a logical and important next step in this river restoration effort.”

The Beeson-Robison diversion dam is a prime example of future project focus of these groups. Beeson-Robison is a 5.5-foot diversion dam on Wagner Creek in the Bear Creek sub-basin, near Talent, Oregon. The diversion completely blocks upstream fish movement from April through October. Although stop logs are removed during the winter (when adult steelhead and coho salmon are moving upstream), a 3-foot-high leap through fast flowing water limits successful fish passage to about four miles of the creek. The Rogue River Watershed Council is working with the irrigators who receive water from the diversion to remove the small dam and install a re-profiled stream channel to maintain irrigation water diversion.

“We are tremendously grateful for the support from the Open Rivers Fund,” said Brian Barr, Executive Director of the Rogue River Watershed Council. “The funding will help us to move forward with our efforts to work with landowners and other community groups on projects such as the Beeson-Robison Dam project that will restore access to salmon and steelhead spawning streams. Providing access to more, higher elevation habitat along Wagner Creek will translate to more successful spawning and higher juvenile fish survival.” Barr added, “Implementation of the Beeson-Robison project, and other similar projects throughout the Rogue Basin, will result in a greater availability of salmon and steelhead in the Pacific Ocean and Rogue River, and will also result in more resilient fish populations.”

The Rogue River Watershed Council and Rogue Basin Partnership are working with landowners and local partners in this effort. Grants from Resources Legacy Fund through the Open Rivers Fund will support the Rogue Basin Partnership’s project coordination and communications and outreach capacity and the Rogue River Watershed Council’s capacity to engage landowners, advance project design and permitting, and remove and upgrade the Beeson-Robison diversion dam.

“I support replacing the old Beeson-Robison diversion dam. It will help address the issue of fish passage and allow fish to reach cooler water during lower summer streamflows,” said Robert Hackett, an irrigator served by Beeson-Robison ditch.

Resources Legacy Fund’s  Open Rivers Fund is the largest philanthropic fund dedicated to dam removal and river restoration. It will provide resources to communities that are working to get dam removal and infrastructure modernization projects off the ground and will reduce cost barriers for these projects.

“The internationally renowned Rogue River is one of the Pacific Northwest’s most important salmon strongholds, and offers one of the best chances to maintain salmon and steelhead for future generations,” said WaterWatch board member Bob Hunter. “Removing barriers to fish passage is one of the most effective ways to enhance and protect fish runs, and the Open Rivers Fund support offers a great opportunity to build on the great river restoration work that has been done in the Rogue Basin.”

Media resources, including photos and videos, are available here.

Read the Rogue River Basin project fact sheet.

Read the Open Rivers Fund announcement press release.

Read statements of support from national leaders and community members.

CONTACT:

Liz Judge, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, 970.710.9002, ljudge@hewlett.org
Mark Kleinman, Resources Legacy Fund, 916. 442.5057, mkleinman@resourceslegacyfund.org
Caitlin Scott, Full Court Press Communications, 510.550.8176, caitlin@fcpcommunications.com
Sarah Hersh-Walker, Full Court Press Communications, 510.550.8170, sarah@fcpcommunications.com

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About the Rogue River Watershed Council
The Rogue River Watershed Council is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that works to restore instream and streamside habitat, improve water quality, and encourage community members to become stewards of the Rogue River and its tributaries. The council covers approximately 1,641,000 acres from the headwaters near Crater Lake to Mule Creek and encompasses the towns of Grants Pass, Merlin, Shady Cove, Eagle Point, Butte Falls, Central Point, Jacksonville, Phoenix, Talent, Medford, and Ashland.

About the Rogue Basin Partnership
The Rogue Basin Partnership is a coalition of more than twenty natural resource organizations that are working collaboratively on restoration projects throughout the entire 3.3 million acre Rogue River Basin. Rogue Basin Partnership is focused on coordinating an integrated approach to restoration, through planning, project prioritization, and coalition coordination.

About the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation is a nonpartisan, private charitable foundation that advances ideas and supports institutions to promote a better world. For 50 years, we have supported efforts to advance education for all, preserve the environment, improve lives and livelihoods in developing countries, promote the health and economic well-being of women, support vibrant performing arts, strengthen Bay Area communities and make the philanthropy sector more effective. On the web: www.hewlett.org

About Resources Legacy Fund
Since its founding in 2000, Resources Legacy Fund (RLF) has embodied an innovation in conservation philanthropy as a donor-driven enterprise focused on lasting results. RLF offers its donor-partners a unique mix of capabilities to deliver outcomes that improve environmental sustainability in Western North America as well as in oceans and fisheries worldwide. RLF provides leading-edge strategy and execution that draws on world-class, mission-driven environmental, conservation, and policy expertise to achieve large-scale conservation outcomes, engaging emerging urban communities as well as established conservation constituencies, business leaders, and policy officials. www.resourceslegacyfund.org

 

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