WASHINGTON, D.C. - Oregon Congressman Bob Smith, Chairman of the House Committee on Agriculture, today announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would not award a contract to breach southern Oregon's Elk Creek Dam, following weeks of intense efforts by the Congressman to convince the Corps to use a less destructive and less expensive method of providing fish passage.
This afternoon, Colonel Robert Slusar of the Army Corps assured Smith that the Corps would not award a contract to breach Elk Creek Dam in fiscal year 1998. Slusar's decision follows weeks of pressure from Congressman Smith, who convened a November 13 congressional hearing in Medford, Oregon to discuss the Corps' dam breach plan. Congress had never authorized the Corps' $8 million proposal to breach the Elk Creek Dam, and the Corps had never drafted an environmental impact statement for the plan - despite the fact that the project would have moved 50,000 cubic yards of embankment and 500,000 cubic yards of other material.
"I promised southern Oregonians that I'd do everything in my power to preserve Elk Creek Dam for future generations. It wasn't easy, and we may have to fight this battle again sometime in the future, but for now the Corps has agreed to hold off on awarding a dam breach contract," said Smith.
"The Corps' extreme plan to dismantle Elk Creek Dam would have wasted the $108 million that we've already invested in the dam, while putting the environment at risk. Soon, Congress should revisit this issue to clarify how the Corps should spend our money. Meanwhile, we have cheaper and just as effective ways to provide for fish passage," said Smith.
Smith represents Oregon's Second Congressional District - which includes most of eastern, central, and southern Oregon - in the U.S. House of Representatives.