PENDLETON, Ore. — After 20 years of planning, studies and grant writing, the removal of an Oregon dam is finally underway.

The East Oregonian reports (http://bit.ly/2tWAq22 ) excavation of the Dillon Diversion Dam on the Umatilla River began July 13, and crews have until Sept. 15 to finish the job.

Executive Director of the Umatilla Basin Watershed Council Michael Ward was hired to help carry out the project. Ward says fish passage Is a major theme of the project, as the structure posed a barrier to salmon, steelhead and lamprey.

Due to the dam’s location, gravel bars would routinely wash over the irrigation headgate during high flows, leaving ranchers to clean up the mess.

Ward says water savings and ecological and economic benefits for the local irrigation districts are all perks of the project.

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