Three drop structures
Community unites to restore river function
About the Project
The Long Tom River flows east from its headwaters in the Central Oregon Coast Range to join the Willamette River. In 1941, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (the Corps) started building Fern Ridge, a flood control and water supply dam, in the upper watershed, and in the lower watershed, straightened the Long Tom River and armored the channel. This work converted a 36-mile reach of meandering river into a straighter, deeper, 23-mile stretch. The Corps also built three low-head dams to slow the river’s velocity and reduce scour. All three barriers, also known as drop structures, block fish passage.
The lower watershed of the Long Tom River is important juvenile rearing habitat for Willamette River system salmon and steelhead, as well as lamprey. Many entities, including the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, are restoring important salmon-rearing habitat in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
The first barrier facing fish on Long Tom is the Monroe Drop structure, an 85-feet-wide, 9.5-feet-tall concrete dam located near the City of Monroe, which creates a small lake. Removal of the Monroe Drop is precondition for the other projects. Upstream is the Stroda Drop structure, which sits adjacent to the property of a private landowner willing to have effective fish passage installed if the Monroe Drop is improved or removed. A few miles further upstream is the Ferguson Drop structure, also a fish passage barrier. All of the drop structures are safety hazards for instream recreation. Removal of or improvements to these three structures would give juvenile fish access to 106 miles of additional mainstem and tributary habitat.
In 2019, the Corps began a Continuing Authorities Program under Section 1135 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986 to evaluate options for modifying the Monroe Drop structure to enable fish passage. In 2023, the Corps released a draft feasibility report with removal of the Monroe Drop structure as the recommended plan. The Siltez Tribe and City of Monroe are non-federal co-sponsors of the Section 1135 process.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
- Restore access for juvenile salmon and cutthroat trout to 106 miles of mainstem and tributary habitat
- Improve access for ESA-threatened spring-run Chinook salmon and two species of lamprey, and improve conditions for cutthroat, Oregon chub, dace, sculpin, and other native fish species
- Eliminate the safety hazard from the low-head dam and backwater lake in the town of Monroe
- Enhance the aesthetic appeal and recreation potential of the Monroe waterfront business area
Long Tom Watershed Council
Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians
City of Monroe
Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers