Oregon’s Department of Fish and Wildlife seeks public comment on a proposal to exempt the Oregon Department of Transportation from fish-passage requirements for a culvert-extension project on the fragile Boardman Creek in Oak Grove.

ODOT has proposed extending an existing culvert that carries Boardman, a 1.7-mile-long tributary of the Willamette River, under Highway 99E (McLoughlin Boulevard) south of Milwaukie. The proposed sidewalk, which would extend the culvert 20 feet, has triggered Oregon’s fish-passage laws.

During the summer, Boardman above 99E only flows intermittently and provides poor habitat for native migratory fish, wrote ODOT biologist Pamela Porter in the application.

“Making the ODOT culvert fish-passable would not allow native migratory fish access to the upper section of Boardman Creek because of the private culvert immediately downstream,” Porter wrote.

The creek begins 641 feet upstream from the proposed culvert, flows through a shopping area under Ed’s Mower and Saw Shoppe, then parallels the Trolley Trail before flowing through Stringfield Family Park, run by the North Clackamas Parks and Recreation District.

Some recent fish-passage renovations and stream restoration work have been conducted in the lower reaches of Boardman Creek, which has increased native species beneficial to potential fish habitat.

“The creek basin is unfortunately fully developed for urban residential/commercial use,” said Todd Alsbury, fish biologist for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. “The basin exhibits common attributes of residential watersheds, such as impassable culverts, altered hydrology and an unstable stream channel.”

According to Greg Apke, ODFW fish-passage program coordinator, ODFW may grant an exemption if there is no appreciable benefit to fish from providing passage.

“ODFW staff is recommending granting the exemption,” Apke said.

However, the agency continues to solicit public comments that it can consider before making the final decision, he added.

The public will have until Dec. 17 to submit written comments on the proposed plan. Details on the ODOT fish passage exemption request and the ODFW net benefit analysis can be found on the ODFW fish passage website.

The public can send written comments or request additional information from Greg Apke, ODFW fish passage program coordinator, 3406 Cherry Ave. N.E., Salem 97303; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; 503-947-6228.

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