Hellgate Jetboat Excursions seeking 10-year permit for Rogue River dredging

GRANTS PASS, Ore. – Hellgate Jetboat Excursions in Grants Pass is applying for a permit to dredge part of the Rogue River.

Hellgate Excursions first began the effort in 2018, but later withdrew the application. Now, the business is applying again in the face of low water levels in southern Oregon.

The 2018 Hellgate permit application was opened to public comment in may of that year. Hellgate Jetboat Excursions later withdrew the application after the public comment process, and the Army Corps of Engineers never rendered a decision.

This new application, which the Grants Pass company applied for in June, is for a 10 year permit. According to publicly available documents, the company wants to dredge and discharge up to 1,0505 cubic yards of sediment below the high water mark of the Rogue River, as needed, each year.

The depth and amount would vary annually based on water levels.

Hellgate indicated in the application that it has already gotten approval from Josephine County for dredging activities.

Right now the application is open to public comment, and some are readily opposed to it.

Some Grants Pass residents claim it would disrupt the natural flow and path of the river, as well as local ecosystems.  In the application document, the Corps’ preliminary review indicates the activity may affect an endangered or threatened species or designated critical habitat. But it didn’t provide details on what animals or habitats.

The documents show Hellgate aims to limit environmental impacts by including erosion control measures in the dredging plan, and working with the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife to minimize impacts to aquatic species.

Hellgate did not return calls seeking comment today. The Army Corps was also unavailable today for interview. The Corps is now taking comments from the public, federal, state and local officials, as well as Native American tribes.

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Grace Smith
Grace Smith is co-anchor for NBC5 News at 6. The Chicago native is a recent graduate of University of Miami with a Communication Honors degree specializing in Broadcast Journalism. She minored in Creative Writing and focused her senior thesis on social media usage and engagement. During her time at the University of Miami, she anchored multiple award-winning student television programs, covering everything from music festivals to the Super Bowl. Though she loved Miami's beaches, she's thrilled to be in the Pacific Northwest where she can experience all four seasons and have a real Christmas tree! When she’s not at work, you can find Grace glued to any television showing live sports (especially if it's the Chicago Bears) or attempting a new recipe as she learns to cook.