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Manufactured wetland taking shape in pasture beside Highway 140, Lost River

 Tuesday May 3, 2005


Workers on contract with the Oregon Department of Transportation use an excavator Monday to carve out room for a wetland in an old pasture in the Olene Gap.

A parcel of land that served for years as a cattle pasture near Olene will soon be home to endangered suckers, thanks to a wetland replacement project being carried out by the Oregon Department of Transportation.

Construction crews under contract with ODOT are using an excavator, bulldozer and dump trucks to create a pond in a pasture sandwiched between Highway 140 and the Lost River.

For now, they are leaving a berm to keep the river's water out. Once the berm is breached, they will set out bulrushes transplanted from Klamath Wildlife Area at Miller Island.

"It will be kind of like a bulrush nursery, we are hoping," said Allison Cowie, wetlands specialist in ODOT's Bend office.

For a year, ODOT will regulate the amount of water that flows over the young bulrush, allowing the plants to take hold. Eventually the berm will be removed and the waters of the Lost River will flow through the wetland.


"The whole thing should be a good wetland," Cowie said.

Endangered sucker fish are expected to use the new wetlands. The project is expected to be done in November 2006. In all, ODOT purchased 40 acres of the old pastureland. Cowie said more of the land could be turned into wetland later on.

ODOT is building the wetlands along Highway 140 to mitigate for roadwork that has impacted wetlands elsewhere, Cowie said.

The Olene Gap project is to make up for wetlands affected by various bridge projects around Klamath County, as well as the widening of the shoulder on Highway 140 as it runs through Olene Gap.

Cowie said the bulrush patch along 140 represents a shift in how ODOT does mitigation. Previously, mitigation was done with a small wetland project for each construction job.

That led to a lot of "postage stamp" wetlands covering as little as a tenth of an acre, Cowie said.

Larger wetland projects, like that under way at Olene Gap, will make for better compensation for ODOT's impact on wetlands, she said.

"It will really save the state a lot of money and create a productive wetland," Cowie said.







Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM  Pacific

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