ODFW seek fines of $27.6 million for unlawful killing of Pacific Lamprey

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State issues one of the largest claims of its kind

Kirk Blaine - kirk@nativefishsociety.org - 307- 299-7834

Douglas County, Oregon - On Friday, October 6, 2023, ODFW filed a complaint with the Douglas County Circuit Court seeking damages for the unlawful killing of fish during the Winchester Dam repair project this past August. ODFW claims at least 550,000 lamprey were killed due to the inadequate fish salvage that occurred during the draining of the reservoir pool.

The proposed claim is one of the largest of its kind for the taking of state fish and wildlife. 

"The tragic fish kill that occurred during the Winchester Dam Repair project was totally preventable. I am happy ODFW is stepping up to hold Winchester Water Control District accountable for their total disregard for this social, cultural, and economically important state sensitive species,” Kirk Blaine, Southern Oregon Coordinator Native Fish Society. “It is our hope this brings light to the importance of Pacific Lamprey and the restoration of the species across the Pacific Northwest. Native Fish Society will continue to ensure this and other reported violations that affected the natural resources of the North Umpqua during the project are investigated and enforced to the fullest extent."  

This is not the first time the owners have drained the reservoir pool killing hundreds of Pacific Lamprey. In 2013, Winchester Water Control District completed repairs by draining the pool in which agencies and tribes documented a similar fish kill. There were no fines or permits issued. Similarly, ODFW documented a fish kill during the 2018 repairs to the south side of the dam when Winchester Water Control District tried patching a hole by pouring green concrete into the river. Again, no fines were issued for the killing of fish; however, Oregon DEQ did enforce on the district polluting the waters of the state.

Native Fish Society will continue to ensure Winchester Water Control District follows the rule of law at Winchester Dam. It is clear, this dam will not be responsibly maintained or updated to help protect and conserve the future of the North Umpqua. Native Fish Society looks forward to restoring a free-flowing North Umpqua River to help benefit the fish, river and communities that depend on it.

ODFW Press Release

ODFW Filed Complaint 

Oregon DEQ pre-enforcement notice

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