GRANTS PASS, Ore. —Hellgate Jetboat Excursions in Grants Pass has had its application withdrawn, to dredge part of the Rogue River. That update is according to the US Army Corps of Engineers.
NBC5 News told you last summer that Hellgate filed to renew its dredge and fill permit, for ten years.
According to a Facebook post from Hellgate last summer, the permit allows them to move inches of material to the side of a channel to ensure safe operation of its jetboats, as well as law enforcement, rescue boats, and other river users. It said it hoped that giving boats more clearance in the water will make it easier for the boats, and safer for passengers.
The Army Corps says it requested more information from Hellgate to continue processing the request last September. But, it says it withdrew Hellgate’s regulatory permit application in early December, due to a lack of response. The permit application asks for permission to dredge and discharge up to 1,050 cubic yards of sediment annually for boat access within a 17-mile reach of the Rogue River.
Even though the permits are called dredging, Hellgate says it does not actually remove material from the river. It says the scope of work relocates sediment that has filled the river channel, mainly due to the dams that have been removed upstream. We reached out to Hellgate for comment Tuesday, but haven’t heard back.
Hellgate’s dredging efforts were met with opposition from some, in the community. Rogue Riverkeeper is a nonprofit that advocates for clean water in the Rogue River basin. It says dredging is a threat to the habitat of chinook salmon, clean water, and the natural condition and environment of the river bed.
“The length of time that was requested for the permit, the amount of riverbed that would be discharged and degraded, and the number of locations they wanted to dredge at because they were essential salmon-bearing habitat,” said Emily Bowes, Rogue Riverkeeper Conservation Director.
The non-profit says it takes the permit withdrawal as a big win for the environment.
UPDATE 2/17: This article has been updated to reflect that statements about the scope of Hellgate’s plans came directly from the Grants Pass company itself.