Image provided by: University of Oregon Libraries; Eugene, OR
About Appeal tribune. (Silverton, Or.) 1999-current | View Entire Issue (Jan. 8, 2020)
SILVERTONAPPEAL.COM ❚ WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 8, 2020 ❚ 3A
Continued from Page 1A
Dam plays role in building the city
The Scotts Mills Dam was built in the
It was situated on top of an existing
10-foot rock waterfall along Butte Creek,
the current boundary between Marion
and Clackamas counties.
It was built by molding a 5-foot tall
concrete wall approximately 40 feet
wide of Butte Creek. Its main function
was to divert water into a 100-foot long
side channel so water could drive a mill.
In the early days of statehood, the mill
became a substantial economic driver in
The dam was converted to generate
electricity in the early 1900s and owner-
ship was transferred to Portland General
But PGE stopped using the dam for
electricity in the 1950s, and the utility
gave the dam and 10 acres of land sur-
rounding it to Marion County.
That land, which is in Scotts Mills city
limits, was combined with 3 acres from
private citizens and turned into Scotts
Mills County Park, which opened in 1961.
On warm, sunny summer days, the
park will ﬁll with families enjoying a pic-
nic, friends playing pick-up baseball
games and people canoeing in the waters
above the dam.
When Marion County Commissioner
Sam Brentano was a child growing up in
Woodburn, his family frequently came to
“Dad would take us there to swim on a
Sunday,” Brentano said. “We played on
the structure. We were all grossed out.
There were eels that worked their way up
At some point after the electricity-
generating had ended, the side channel
was turned into a ﬁshway for ﬁsh to mi-
But since then, the dam has received
little maintenance or attention and it has
fallen into disrepair.
When the Spring Break Quake hit in
March of 1993, Scotts Mills was at the
epicenter of the 5.6 magnitude earth-
When ﬂooding hit in 1996, a 3-foot
wide section of the rim of the dam broke
oﬀ, and another portion has fallen oﬀ
At one point in the past couple dec-
ades, the Marion Soil and Water Conser-
vation District looked at repairing Scotts
Mills Dam, but deemed it would be more
Continued from Page 2A
RV fees increase at 22 Oregon
RV campsites are getting a little more
expensive at Oregon’s most popular
state parks this summer in a program to
encourage people to camp in autumn
The cost will increase by $3 at 22
parks from Memorial Day to Labor Day
to pay for a special $7 discount on
camping in the fall and spring.
The goal is to encourage people to
camp in the “shoulder seasons.”
An increasing number of visitors
have often overwhelmed RV sites across
the state — leaving many sold out —
during the peak of summer, oﬃcials
said. They’re looking to spread out use
across the seasons to lessen the load.
The cost of tent camping is un-
changed in 2020 at state parks.
John Day River limited float
You'll need one of a limited number of
permits to ﬂoat the Wild and Scenic sec-
cost eﬀective to knock it
“At this point, the dam
no longer functions to
cause the ﬂow of the
creek in such a way that it
is passable for ﬁsh,” Ran-
Dams being torn down in Oregon
As of 2013, there were 27,800 dams
documented in Oregon.
Many of the dams were built for rea-
sons including providing water for irriga-
tion, municipal uses, recreation and
In some areas, dams were the ﬁrst
man-made structures erected.
“A lot of these are irrigation diversion
dams,” said John DeVoe, executive direc-
tor of WaterWatch of Oregon. “We’re not
talking about big hydropower dams.”
Many smaller dams have been poorly
A Stanford University report said
nearly 1,000 dams in the United States
have failed since the 1970s, and 34
deaths have been attributed to those fail-
There are four dams in Oregon with
unsatisfactory ratings – meaning they
are in danger of collapsing – and 18 more
are classiﬁed as poor.
When the Endangered Species Act
became law in 1973, dam operators were
required to provide ﬁsh passage around
the structures so native species could
spawn in their native habitat.
Constructing ﬁsh ladders can be cost
prohibitive and cost millions of dollars,
so demolishing them has come into
Among the dams removed have been
the Brownell Dam on the Umatilla River,
the Trask River Dam and the Wimer Dam
on the Rogue River, and the highest pro-
ﬁle was the Marmot Dam on the Sandy
River in 2007.
“They literally dynamited it out,” Ore-
gon Department of Fish and Wildlife
stream restoration biologist Dave Stew-
Between 2013 and 2018, 75 dams in
Oregon have been removed or ﬁsh pas-
sages were added.
The Oregon Watershed Enhancement
Board has funded many of the dam re-
“It can be expensive. It’s not as simple
as going in with the backhoe and busting
the thing up,” DeVoe said.
Issues include: is the dam in a public-
ly-owned waterway, who built the dam
and the chain of ownership can be hard
tion of the John Day River this season
from May 1 to July 15.
The permit system adds the John Day
to a list of rivers with a “limited entry”
system, including the Rogue and Des-
chutes rivers, that regulates the number
of people allowed to launch each day.
The permit system, intended to limit
damage to a canyon with limited camp-
sites, was approved in 2012. But in 2014,
the website controlling the permits
crashed and BLM stopped enforcing the
This year, permits will be sold on the
website Recreation.Gov for $20 per
group, plus a $6 processing fee, for a
group up to 16 people.
Nine permits will be available each
day for trips launching from Clarno,
Thirtymile, Muleshoe or Service Creek
while 10 will be open for trips from
Twickenham, Priest Hole or Lower
Oﬃcials said that previously, on peak
weekends, some people ﬂoating the riv-
er were unable to ﬁnd any campsite and
ended up ﬂoating through the night.
Zach Urness has been an outdoors re-
porter, photographer and videographer
in Oregon for 12 years. Urness can be
reached at zurness@StatesmanJour-
nal.com or (503) 399-6801. Find him on
Twitter at @ZachsORoutdoors.
Garry Falor CFP ®
South | 503-362-5439
West | 503-588-5426
Caitlin Davis CFP ®
West | 503-585-1464
Lancaster | 503-585-4689
Mission | 503-363-0445
Commercial | 503-370-6159
South | 503-362-5439
Keizer | 503-393-8166
You can rely on Edward Jones
for on-on-one attention, our
philosophy and straight talk
about your fi nancial needs.
Contact your Edward Jones
fi nancial advisor today.
Sublimity | 503-769-3180
Dallas | 503-623-2146
Silverton | 503-873-2454
Stayton | 503-769-4902
“They just get abandoned,” DeVoe
said. “Frequently they’d rather not admit
that they own the dam.
“There are literally thousands of these
small dams around the state and at some
point, if we want to have salmon in the
future and steelhead, they’re going to
have to do something about these.”
One of the hang-ups about removing
Scotts Mills Dam, however, has been
questions over who owns it.
Who owns Scotts Mills Dam?
For years questions have lingered: Is
Scotts Mills Dam owned by Marion
County, a private landowner on the
Clackamas County side of the stream or
“It became a kind of contentious part
of the discussion,” Rankin said.
Butte Creek originates in the Cascade
Mountain Range, about 8 miles north of
Gates and ﬂows about 33 miles into the
Pudding River and serves as the border
between Marion and Clackamas coun-
When Oregon became a state in 1859,
it acquired all waterways that ebbed and
ﬂowed with the tides, which includes 12
major rivers including the Willamette
Butte Creek was not considered navi-
gable at the time of statehood, according
to the Department of State Lands, and
thus is not owned by the state.
In cases of privately-owned land,
such as the Scotts Mills Dam, the land-
owner owns the ground to the middle of
the body of water – though the water is
publicly owned – unless it has been ex-
cluded on a title transfer.
Rankin said she checked with the
Marion County Clerk’s oﬃce and the
deed transfer to Marion County from
PGE didn’t exclude the dam, meaning it
is owned by the county and the land-
owner on the other side.
“If you were doing a full ﬁsh passage,
it would cost millions of dollars,” Rankin
After years of debating the subject,
the Marion County Parks Commission,
an advisory board, voted at its November
meeting to move ahead with the plan to
remove the dam.
The matter will now move to the Mar-
ion County Commissioners to decide
what they will do about it.
“I’ve been opposed to it all along until
the most recent parks commission meet-
ing,” Brentano said. “I don’t know if I feel
strongly enough to spend county money
But Brentano said recent support
from the Scotts Mills City Council to
move forward with the proposal gave
him reason to support it.
Dam on Priority List
The Scotts Mills Dam has been on
Oregon’s Statewide Fish Passage Barrier
Priority List, but it is signiﬁcantly further
down the list than some like Detroit Res-
ervoir and Foster Reservoir.
The project has been looked at many
times over the years, but it didn’t pick up
steam until the Oregon Department of
Fish and Wildlife looked at it in 2018.
“I ﬁgured if we can get this thing done
with very little money to the taxpayer, it
might be worth our while,” Stewart said.
Butte Creek is native habitat for En-
dangered Species Act-listed Spring Chi-
nook, and Winter Steelhead as well as
Coho and Cutthroat Trout.
If approved, the dam’s structure
would be removed in the low-water time
of September 2020.
The concrete removed will be hauled
to a rock quarry, with the disposal being
donated by K&E Excavating.
Stewart said ODFW would contribute
up to 60 percent of the project, and the
application to the Oregon Watershed En-
hancement Board seeks $49,992.
The application asks for no money
from Marion County.
“What we’re doing is kind of a phased
approach,” Stewart said. “We’re trying to
do this without spending a ton of money
to start with.
“Let’s remove the dam and do our best
to stabilize that, and then see how it re-
sponds. There’s some sediment behind
it, so that will probably blow through.”
Stewart said ODFW has seen evi-
dence throughout the northwest that
when dams are removed, runs of ﬁsh im-
prove dramatically, and he said other
work the Pudding River Watershed
Council is performing elsewhere on the
river will help, too.
He said the department doesn’t have
surveys of Butte Creek, but several re-
tired biologists have volunteered their
Before the project can begin, however,
the landowner agreements must be in
place, and the crews will need permis-
sion to access the structure from the
land, which likely would be at Scotts
Mills County Park.
“It’s a great project,” Rankin said.
“From a certain point of view, it’s a slam
dunk. No brainer. Go remove that small
dam. It’s going to be safer. It’s going to be
more navigable for ﬁsh. Why not?”
Phone and Internet Discounts
Available to CenturyLink Customers
The Oregon Public Utility Commission designated
CenturyLink as an Eligible Telecommunications
Carrier within its service area for universal service
purposes. CenturyLink’s basic local service rates
for residential voice lines are $18.80-$19.80 per
month and business services are $31.00-$35.00
per month. Specific rates will be provided upon
CenturyLink participates in a government benefit
program (Lifeline) to make residential telephone or
broadband service more affordable to eligible low-
income individuals and families. Eligible customers
are those that meet eligibility standards as defined
by the FCC and state commissions. Residents who
live on federally recognized Tribal Lands may qualify
for additional Tribal benefits if they participate in
certain additional federal eligibility programs. The
Lifeline discount is available for only one telephone
or qualifying broadband service per household,
which can be either a wireline or wireless service.
Broadband speeds must be 20 Mbps download and
3 Mbps upload or faster to qualify.
A household is defined for the purposes of the
Lifeline program as any individual or group of
individuals who live together at the same address
and share income and expenses. Lifeline service is
not transferable, and only eligible consumers may
enroll in the program. Consumers who willfully
make false statements in order to obtain Lifeline
telephone or broadband service can be punished
by fine or imprisonment and can be barred from
If you live in a CenturyLink service area, please call
1-888-833-9522 or visit centurylink.com/lifeline
with questions or to request an application for the