County helps feds clear Foster Lake logjam

County helps feds clear Foster Lake logjam »Play Video
Foster Lake on Tuesday, June 21, 2011

NEAR SWEET HOME, Ore. - High water and a wet spring are causing a logjam at a top recreation spot in Linn County.

Crews are still busy unclogging Foster Lake from piles of woody debris and logs from the lake on the east edge of Sweet Home.

Pulling logs, logs and more logs that have clogged the reservoir is a late spring and early summer ritual every year at Foster Lake. 

And the Army Corps of Engineers says it's a bigger headache than usual in 2011.

"The Corps has already swept, loaded and transported 60 truckloads of material," explains Kat Beal, environmental stewardship supervisor for the Corps' Willamette Valley Project.

Foster Dam is one of 13 dams operated and maintained by the Corps in the mid and southern Willamette Valley.

Beal said the Army Corps budget only pays for two springtime cleanouts at Foster.

So they've signed a new agreement with Linn County Parks to take care of the last huge pile near Shea Point.

Officials hope this wood pile is finally out the week of July 4.  
Linn County Parks Manager Brian Carroll says the joint agreement will cost $14,000.

He hopes some of the wood can be sold to local lumber companies to offset the cost.

Some of the wood is being donated to the South Santiam Watershed Council for various habitat projects.

"Boaters have to take great care to avoid hitting things. That's what the county is trying to address with this collaboration," said Beal.

"In a perfect world the Corps would be taking care of it," said Roger Nyquist, Linn County Commission chairman.

He said he's not jumping for joy with the agreement."But the bottom line is we're in the recreation business out there with our parks system, and we're very concerned about the public safety."

And with the county's help, job number one for the Corps has been accomplished: making sure logs don't jam the workings at Foster Dam. 

"We need it to provide flooding reduction downstream and to produce hydropower," Beal said.