SOU students help with dam removal studies

Southern Oregon University students will get a chance to wet their sleeves alongside the pros in the studies on removing Gold Ray Dam.

The environmental science program at SOU recently received $10,000 of a $100,000 grant awarded to Jackson County by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association to study the feasibility of removing the dam, located on the Rogue River just outside of Gold Hill.

The grant will fund the continued analysis of sediments in the reservoir, begun by geology student Elizabeth Carrington. Up to five students will be able to join in the work.

Carrington, under the direction of Professor William Elliot, waded out into the reservoir to collect sediment samples and analyzed their content. The next group of students will use SONAR to determine the thickness of that sediment throughout the reservoir, Elliot said.

The content and thickness of the sediment will determine whether the dam can be removed or will have to be replaced or improved.

The experience gives students real-world experience in dam removal, a phenomenon that is becoming more common, especially in the Pacific Northwest, Elliot said, often to increase fish passage and restore streams to their original condition.

"This project allows students to interact with different agencies &

federal, state and local &

and it allows students to get a feel for what type of information is necessary to assess and remove a dam," he said.

Geology students are not required to do this type of field work, but it provides them valuable skills in the job market, he said.

"These students are going above and beyond their requirements," he said.

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 ext. 227 or .

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