$3.6 million pipeline will help restore native fish habitat

ODELL — With help from the Hood River watershed council, the East Fork Irrigation District has brought together diverse partners for the first phase of a large pipeline project that will eliminate fish habitat problems associated with a 100-year-old irrigation delivery system.

Construction will start after Oct. 1, when the irrigation canals will be closed after harvest season. The new pipeline will carry 42 cubic feet per second of irrigation water around Neal Creek for discharge to an existing canal. Phase one is scheduled to be completed by April.

The District and its partners have been tackling this project for years, but due to limited resources were unable to put all the pieces together until now, according to Holly Coccoli, coordinator of the Hood River Watershed Group.

Currently, imported water from the silty East Fork Hood River is carried in the creek to downstream irrigators. This project will remove sediment-laden flows from the creek as well as a small diversion dam that blocks fish migration.

Water quality and fish passage will dramatically improve in Neal Creek, an important spawning stream used by native steelhead, according to Coccoli.

Coccoli said the project will improve habitat in seven miles of the creek, restore access to two miles of spawning habitat, and ensure safe migration for young fish that now become stranded in canals due to a failing fish screen at the diversion dam.

Construction of the first phase of the 4.3 mile, six-foot diameter pipeline will cost $3.6 million. The total project cost is $10 million.

When asked why the partners sought to complete a project of this size instead of simply building a new fish ladder and screen, irrigation district manager John Buckley said, “We started with a less costly plan to upgrade fish passage facilities, but soon had to face the fact that they didn’t address the total problem nor comply with state water quality rules. We needed a comprehensive solution, not just a band-aid.”

The pipeline will generally follow the existing canal, and much of the excavation and installation will be in the canal itself, according to Sharon Swyers, irrigation district office manager.

The first phase of the pipeline will start adjacent to the upper Hanel Mill, travel north generally along Highway 35, and then east and north around Booth Hill.

Partners in this project include the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Bonneville Power Administration, Department of Environmental Quality, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Reservation, Hood River County Board of Commissioners, Hood River Watershed Group, U.S. Forest Service, and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

OWEB was created in 1999, and is charged with funding local voluntary efforts to improve water quality and quantity, enhance habitat for critical fish runs, and restore and protect watersheds and wildlife habitat to support local economies.

Funding comes from many sources, including a voter-approved 7.5 percent from lottery proceeds for the purpose of watershed restoration and protection.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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