March 2004. A proposal to dredge bottom sand from the Wild and Scenic portion of the Rogue River for the easier passage of jetboat tours has surfaced once again. For several years in a row, Grants Pass Jetboats (dba Hellgate Jetboat Excursions) has applied to dredge the Rogue River . After withdrawing its request last year, the jetboat company has again filed formal requests with the Oregon DEQ and the Army Corps of Engineers, to complete dredging operations at 5 locations in the Recreational Section of the Rogue River downstream from Grants Pass. If granted, the new permit would be valid for 5 years.
The request must be approved by the Oregon DEQ prior to being considered by the Corps of Engineers. Our concerns are almost identical to those of last year, which seem to have been addressed minimally, if at all. Again the time period is quite short. Comments to both agencies must be received by March 30.
Briefly, points to make in your comments are:
1) REQUEST FOR AN EXTENSION. This proposal is controversial and the deadline for comments is ridiculously short. Request an EXTENSION so that there is time to gather more input from the public.
2) REQUEST FOR PUBLIC HEARING. This dredging proposal is highly controversial. River lovers and river runners who value the Wild Rogue River regard this type of quick decision without a fair opportunity for public partcipation as unsound management policy. For these reasons, there is need for a public hearing. Request that a public hearing be called so that the public may be better informed.
3) UNANSWERED CONCERNS AND QUESTIONS. Many questions have not been answered. For example, will the permit be automatically renewed at the end of 5 years? What about the concerns of riverfront landowners? Does this mean watercraft can travel at increased speed and give off even more noise? If ongoing research proves that dredging has a detrimental impact on the fishery, what next? Why is the dredged material simply going to be distributed near the river, or on gravel bars below the high water line? Isn't this a scenic river? Will floatcraft be required to use channels other than the dredged channels?
Now is the time to voice your opinion. This proposal is below the radar screen, and attracting very little attention, which is unhealthy for sound river management practices. We urge you to send your comments both electronically and by ground mail.
Please send your comments to both agencies:
401 Program Coordinator
811 SW Sixth Avenue
Portland, OR 97204-1390
Action # RP-13255
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Eugene Field Office, Portland District
CENWP-OP-GE (Mr. Dominic Yballe)
1600 Executive Parkway, Suite 210
Eugene, OR 97401-2372
Action # 199800165