WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. House of Representatives today overwhelmingly passed an initiative offered by Oregon Congressman Bob Smith that would enable the Bureau of Reclamation to provide financial assistance to farmers in southern Oregon for the design and construction of fish passage facilities in the Rogue River Basin.
By a unanimous voice vote, the House today passed the Water-Related Technical Corrections Act of 1997 (H.R. 2402), making a number of technical corrections to federal reclamation law. The legislation contains an initiative by Oregon Congressman Bob Smith that allows the Bureau of Reclamation to provide financial assistance to the Medford Irrigation District and to the Rogue River Valley Irrigation District for the design and construction of fish passage facilities at two diversion dams along the North and South Forks of Little Butte Creek in Oregon's Rogue River basin.
"This legislation is a win for farmers in southern Oregon and it's a win for the Bureau of Reclamation. Now, the Bureau can increase its fish passage activities in the Rogue River Basin while helping Medford and Rogue River Valley farmers comply with federal fish recovery regulations," Smith said.
"Farmers and the Bureau of Reclamation don't always see eye-to-eye when it comes to fish recovery issues, but on this one, we've hit a home run," Smith said.
The existing fish passage and protective facilities at the Little Butte Creek dams fall below National Marine Fisheries Service standards. Earlier this year, as the Bureau of Reclamation prepared to upgrade Little Butte Creek fish passage facilities, the Bureau discovered that it did not have the legislative authority to work on the Creek's diversion dams, which are owned and operated, not by the Bureau, but by the irrigation districts themselves. Smith's legislation permits the Bureau to complete its Little Butte Creek fish recovery efforts while protecting southern Oregon farmers from a costly fish recovery mandate.
Smith represents Oregon's Second Congressional District, which includes southern Oregon's Jackson County, in the U.S. House of Representatives.