The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking public comment on a proposal to team up with the Oregon Department of Transportation to boost fish passage when road culverts are repaired.
The proposed three-year pilot would allow ODOT to perform culvert repairs while providing improved passage at each repair location and strategically target high-priority fish passage projects located off the ODOT road system.
According to ODOT culvert inventories on state highways, roughly one-third of the 35,000 culverts on the state highway system are in poor condition and in need of repair.
Under current ODFW fish passage policy, significant culvert repairs trigger fish passage requirements, which typically require replacement of the existing culvert with a larger culvert or bridge.
According to Greg Apke, ODFW Fish Passage Program coordinator, this agreement will allow ODOT to make specified culvert repairs without requiring full fish passage criteria compliance.
As part of the agreement, ODOT would improve fish passage conditions at each site they repair, and pay $1.8 million into an ODFW-managed account that would fund high-priority fish passage projects.
In addition, ODOT would fund a new transportation liaison position, managed by ODFW, to coordinate the agreement’s implementation.
Apke added that ODFW believes this approach will provide a net benefit to native migratory fish over current practices, as the agreement mandates that ODOT provide incremental fish passage improvements at culvert repair sites, and funding for high-priority fish passage projects on the ODFW statewide priority list.
In exchange, the agreement allows ODOT to perform cost effective short-term culvert repairs. Monitoring during the pilot period will evaluate the impacts on fish and the effectiveness of the culvert repairs.
The proposed agreement is being reviewed by the Fish Passage Task Force and will be presented to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission for approval in October.
Members of the public have until Aug. 21 to submit written comments on the proposed agreement for consideration by the Fish Passage Task Force. The agreement and supporting materials can be viewed at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/fish/passage/.
The public also can send written comments to or request additional information from Greg Apke, ODFW Fish Passage Program Coordinator, 4034 Fairview Industrial Dr. SE, e-mail, Greg.D.Apke@.dfw.state.or.us, by calling (503) 947-6228 or to Ken Loffink, ODFW Assistant Fish Passage Program Coordinator, email, Ken.J.Loffink@state.or.us, or by calling (503) 947-6256.