DRY CREEK, Ore. -- The bottom of Soda Springs Dam looks more like a rock quarry than a river bed right now.
"It's hard to imagine that in just 18 months, fish will be swimming upstream of the dam for the first time in 50 years," said Monte Garrett, the program manager for the Soda Springs fish passage project.
The project on the North Umpqua River is a result of a 2001 agreement signed by PacifiCorp and seven state and federal agencies for relicensing of the North Umpqua Hydroelectric Project by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Work began at the site June 29.
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More than 100 employees from Sims Electric, Umpqua Sand and Gravel, Knife River Materials and Weekly Brothers Construction are being contracted for the project, Garrett said.
"It's creating jobs," he said. "That's a good thing, it's what we need."
Because of construction, Forest Service officials have closed access to the Soda Springs Reservoir from the dam to one-half mile upstream.
A line of buoy markers in the reservoir indicates the closure on the water to prevent boaters from coming into the construction zone, Garrett said.
Nearby Forest Services roads and the North Umpqua Trail are closed as well.
Construction workers will use rock hammers and drills to remove extra rock from the site, and beginning next week, there will be some blasting, Garrett said.
"It's going to be fairly minor, really subdued," he said of the detonation.