The Good Route: Rogue Stretches Out for Salmon, Boaters

Oct 14, 2009
Outside Magazine

Savage Dam, intact. (via WaterWatch)
The Savage Rapids Dam prior to removal.

By Mary Catherine O'Connor

In our August issue, Grayson Schafferargued that whitewater kayak industry is drying up. But thankfully, a number of the most important waterways in the US are doing just theopposite, thanks to the removal of about 40 dams each year, as reported in NewYork Times this summer.

And just last weekend, anotherbarrier—the Savage Rapids dam near Grants Pass, Ore.—was removed, opening a stretch of the Rogue between Gold Hill and Grants Pass that,by keeping them from their spawning grounds, had been a known killer of salmonand steelhead for decades.

Fish aren't the only river travelers that are likely tobenefit from the dam's dismissal; the Rogue is one of the best-loved rivers forwhitewater boating in the country.

But after so many years being pent up, this section of theRogue is going to need some time to settle into its new surroundings and flushout debris left by the dam. The Oregonian reports that this has already beenmade tragically clear by the death of a jet-boat driver at the removal site.

Many other boaters were able to navigate the newly-openedsection safely in a large flotilla carrying about 80 people, according to theNew York Times. The conservation group WaterWatch played a major role ingetting the dam removed, but the battle took more than 20 years. Here's hopingthat more sections of the Rogue, and other rivers, will be returned to their natural state morequickly.

--Mary Catherine O'Connor is a freelance writer, covering the environment, sustainability and outdoor recreation. The Good Route, her new blog for Outside Online, is focused on the places where the active life and sustainability merge.

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