Smith-Myer-Roper Fish Passage Improvement

When: Completed 2020
Where: Ashland Creek Park, Ashland

Objective: A dam removal project to improve fish passage, open up additional spawning habitat, improve juvenile fish survival, and improve the control of irrigation water diversion

Smith-Myer-Roper diversion dam on Ashland Creek

The Smith-Myer-Roper diversion dam presented a major migration impediment for Coho Salmon and Rainbow Trout/steelhead in Ashland Creek, which has the coolest water in the entire Bear Creek watershed. This 2.5-foot-high concrete structure made it difficult for adult fish to reach two miles of valuable spawning habitat, and presented a complete barrier to juvenile fish seeking rearing habitat and refuge from the warmer water in Bear Creek.

Installing boulders to create the roughened channel

The dam was mechanically removed and replaced with a 96-foot-long “roughened” channel in the fall of 2019. 250 tons of boulders were installed to mimic a natural streambed while providing for fish passage. At the upstream end of the new channel, rocks were strategically placed to direct water into a newly constructed irrigation intake system that would provide water users with their water rights. The first 100 feet of canal was piped. Weed-free straw and native plant seeds were spread to reduce erosion on the area that had been disturbed by the heavy construction equipment. One-quarter of an acre of blackberries were removed and 225 native trees and shrubs planted along the creek.

Two miles of additional cold-water habitat has been opened to Coho Salmon, steelhead, and resident Rainbow Trout for spawning, rearing, and refuge. The new diversion intake and irrigation headgate system allows water users to continue their gravity-fed irrigation practice with a better ability to adjust diversion rates.

This project would not have been possible without the funding and support from the following:

City of Ashland, Lomakatsi Restoration Project, Oregon Wildlife Foundation, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Pacific Power Blue Sky Fund (administered by the Freshwater Trust), Patagonia Environmental Grants, Resources Legacy Fund, Rogue Basin Partnership, Schwemm Family Foundation, WaterWatch of Oregon