Oregon county revives plan to build Milltown Hill Dam

Douglas County, Ore., has revived a proposal to build Milltown Hill Dam, a 186-foot-tall structure that would create a 24,143-acre-foot reservoir on Elk Creek, a tributary of Oregon’s Umpqua River.

Douglas County seeks to reactivate a federal loan and grant application that was approved in 1994 but dropped due to Endangered Species Act concerns.

At that time, the Umpqua River cutthroat trout was listed as an endangered species, which would have required construction of fish passage facilities at Milltown Hill. However, since that time, the fish has been de-listed and is not considered endangered under ESA.

The Bureau of Reclamation originally approved the loan and grant application following completion of a 1992 environmental impact statement and record of decision, but the project never was built. Now the agency is preparing a supplemental EIS due to the length of time since the 1992 EIS was completed.

BuRec announced Aug. 14 that it will take comments through Sept. 8 on issues to be included in the supplemental EIS. Scoping meetings are not planned, but comment opportunities are to be provided when a draft supplemental EIS is issued.

The project’s roller-compacted-concrete dam, reservoir, and associated facilities would fulfill some existing and projected water needs and provide for industrial growth and economic diversification to offset decreases in the timber industry. The project also would provide about one-third of its storage for fish enhancement flows to Elk Creek during summer and fall low flow times.

Comments are due Sept. 8 to Robert Hamilton, Regional Loan Engineer, BuRec, Pacific Northwest Regional Office, 1150 N. Curtis Road, Suite 100, Boise ID 83706-1234. Additional information is on the Internet at www.usbr.gov/pn/programs/eis/milltown/index.html.

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