It is the policy of the State of Oregon to provide for upstream and downstream passage for native migratory fish and the Legislative Assembly finds that cooperation and collaboration between public and private entities is necessary to accomplish the policy goal of providing passage for native migratory fish and to achieve the enhancement and restoration of Oregon’s native salmonid populations, as envisioned by the Oregon Plan. Therefore, except as provided in ORS chapter 509, fish passage is required in all waters of this state in which native migratory fish are currently or have historically been present.
Except as otherwise provided by this section or ORS 509.645 (Filing protest with commission), a person owning or operating an artificial obstruction may not construct or maintain any artificial obstruction across any waters of this state that are inhabited, or historically inhabited, by native migratory fish without providing passage for native migratory fish.
The State Department of Fish and Wildlife shall complete and maintain a statewide inventory of artificial obstructions in order to prioritize enforcement actions based on the needs of native migratory fish. This prioritization shall include, but need not be limited to, the degree of impact of the artificial obstruction on the native migratory fish, the biological status of the native migratory fish stocks in question and any other factor established by the department by rule. The department shall establish a list of priority projects for enforcement purposes. Priority artificial obstructions are subject to the State Fish and Wildlife Commission’s authority as provided in ORS 509.625 (Power of department to inspect artificial obstructions and have fish passage constructed or remove obstruction). Unless requested by persons owning or operating an artificial obstruction, the department shall primarily direct its enforcement authority toward priority projects, emergencies and projects described in subsection (4) of this section. The priority project list shall be subject to periodic review and amendment by the department and to formal review and amendment by the commission no less frequently than once every five years.
A person owning or operating an artificial obstruction shall, prior to construction, fundamental change in permit status or abandonment of the artificial obstruction in any waters of this state, obtain a determination from the department as to whether native migratory fish are or historically have been present in the waters. If the department determines that native migratory fish are or historically have been present in the waters, the person owning or operating the artificial obstruction shall either submit a proposal for fish passage to the department or apply for a waiver pursuant to subsection (7) of this section. Approval of the proposed fish passage facility or of the alternatives to fish passage must be obtained from the department prior to construction, permit modification or abandonment of the artificial obstruction.
Consistent with the purpose and goals of the Oregon Plan, the department shall seek cooperative partnerships to remedy fish passage problems and to ensure that problems are corrected as soon as possible. The department and the person owning or operating the artificial obstruction are encouraged to negotiate the terms and conditions of fish passage or alternatives to fish passage, including appropriate cost sharing. The negotiations may include, but are not limited to, consideration of equitable factors.
The department shall submit a proposed determination of the required fish passage or alternatives to fish passage to the commission for approval. The determination may be the result of the negotiations described in subsection (5) of this section or, if no agreement was reached in the negotiations, a determination proposed by the department. If a protest is not filed within the time period specified in ORS 509.645 (Filing protest with commission), the proposed determination shall become a final order.
(a) The commission shall waive the requirement for fish passage if the commission determines that the alternatives to fish passage proposed by the person owning or operating the artificial obstruction provide a net benefit to native migratory fish.
Net benefit to native migratory fish is determined under this subsection by comparing the benefit to native migratory fish that would occur if the artificial obstruction had fish passage to the benefit to native migratory fish that would occur using the proposed alternatives to fish passage. Alternatives to fish passage must result in a benefit to fish greater than that provided by the artificial obstruction with fish passage. The net benefit to fish shall be determined based upon conditions that exist at the time of comparison.
The State Fish and Wildlife Director shall develop rules establishing general criteria for determining the adequacy of fish passage and of alternatives to fish passage. The general criteria shall include, but not be limited to:
The geographic scope in which alternatives must be conducted;
The type and quality of habitat;
The species affected;
The status of the native migratory fish stocks;
Standards for monitoring, evaluating and adaptive management;
The feasibility of fish passage and alternatives to fish passage;
Quantified baseline conditions;
Existing native migratory fish management plans;
Financial or other incentives and the application of incentives;
Data collection and evaluation; and
Consistency with the purpose and goals of the Oregon Plan.
To the extent feasible, the department shall coordinate its requirements for adequate fish passage or alternatives to fish passage with any federal requirements.
A person owning or operating an artificial obstruction may at any time petition the commission to waive the requirement for fish passage in exchange for agreed-upon alternatives to fish passage that provide a net benefit to native migratory fish as determined in subsection (7) of this section.
(a) Artificial obstructions without fish passage are exempt from the requirement to provide fish passage if the commission:
Finds that a lack of fish passage has been effectively mitigated;
Has granted a legal waiver for the artificial obstruction; or
Finds there is no appreciable benefit to providing fish passage.
The commission shall review, at least once every seven years, the artificial obstructions exempted under this subsection that do not have an exemption expiration date to determine whether the exemption should be renewed. The commission may revoke or amend an exemption if it finds that circumstances have changed such that the relevant requirements for the exemption no longer apply. The person owning or operating the artificial obstruction may protest the decision by the commission pursuant to ORS 509.645 (Filing protest with commission).
To the extent that the requirements of this section are preempted by the Federal Power Act or by the laws governing hydroelectric projects located in waters governed jointly by Oregon and another state, federally licensed hydroelectric projects are exempt from the requirements of this section.