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Making way for the salmon

THE 80-YEAR-OLD SAVAGE Rapids dam near Granite Pass in Oregon, US is to be removed to make way for salmon. The 13m high and 153m long concrete dam, which would be the biggest ever to be removed from an Oregon river, has no storage, flood control or hydro power development.

The US Bureau of Reclamation estimates that removing the dam would result in an increase of about 114,000 more salmon and steelhead each year, providing approximately US$5M annually in economic benefits. The removal could cost the federal government as much as US$23M.

The dam has been a source of contention between farmers and conservationists for over ten years. Environmental groups say that the structure blocks migrating salmon and steelhead on the Rogue river. Farmers dependent on water diverted by the dam will be supplied by a new pumping system that will release water into irrigation canals without disturbing fish, including endangered salmon, in the river.