First public meeting held to discuss Detroit Lake project - KPTV - FOX 12

First public meeting held to discuss Detroit Lake project

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There's a massive plan in the works to overhaul Detroit Lake, and on Wednesday night, people were able to get there first look at the project.

On Tuesday it was reported that a $100 million-plus project to improve conditions for endangered fish could mean emptying Detroit Lake for one or two years.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was on hand at the first public meeting held in the city of Gates to discuss the sweeping project. At the meeting they revealed the project is going to cost anywhere from $100 to $250 million.

Part of the plan includes building a 300-foot tower and floating screen at Detroit Dam. The move would improve water temperature and fish passage in the North Santiam River.

Engineers hope to create an optimal water temperature for fish like salmon to flourish.

"There are various factors at play that are actually limiting their population right now. Moving forward to provide any action that can provide a benefit to specifically open up this habitat is going to be a great boost to their viability in the long run," said Ian Chane, program manager with Army Corps of Engineers.

But a large part of the plan calls for emptying Detroit Lake for one or two years, potentially impacting water supply in Salem and Stayton for farmland and irrigation.

As well as hitting the tourism industry there hard, an issue of major concern for those who live in the area.

"That lake draws literally thousands of people to the canyon every summer. They have a very short time to make it," said Detroit Mayor Jim Trett. "Most of our businesses have about four months to show a profit, because it's really quiet in the winter. So to lose the lake for that period of time is potentially catastrophic for us."

The Army Corps of Engineers say they are working to draft up an environmental impact and limit issues for anyone affected by the project, and the public meeting on Wednesday was just one of the first steps.

Engineers are also taking written public comments until Jan. 23.

The Detroit Downstream Passage project still needs to go through several more planning steps before construction is scheduled for 2021.

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