1962: Congress authorizes the three-dam Rogue River Basin Project to relieve flooding and to supply water, irrigation and recreation benefits.
1968: Congress classifies the Rogue River as one of the first of a national system of wild and scenic rivers under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
1971: The US Army Corps of engineers completes an environmental impact statement (EIS) on the Elk Creek Dam.
1975: Corps completes a draft supplement EIS on Elk Creek Dam, then-Oregon Governor Bob Straub request additional study.
1977: Corps completes Lost Creek Dam, the first of the dams authorized in the Rogue River Basin Project.
1980: Corps completes final supplemental EIS on Elk Creek Dam; Corps completes Applegate Dam, the second authorized by the Rogue Basin Project.
1982: Corps initiates construction of Elk Creek Dam.
1985: Oregon Senator Mark Hatfield passes a $15 million appropriation to build Elk Creek Dam; the Oregon Natural Resources Council (Oregon Wild) and others go to court to stop construction.
1986: Federal district court rules the corps complied with the law; construction formally begins.
1987: Federal appeals court reverses district court: district court enjoins construction of Elk Creek Dam beyond one-third of its designed height.
1989: US Supreme Court overturns appellate court decision.
1990: Oregon Wild anonymously receives a Jan. 20, 1990 memo written by US Army Corp of Engineers Brig. Gen. Pat M. Stevens IV stating that the Elk Creek Dam project "may not be advisable" and that "were the decision to be required today, I suspect I would recommend not resumption, but termination in a 'mothball' state."
1991: Corps completes second supplemental EIS on Elk Creek Dam: then-Oregon Governor Barbara Roberts, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and US Fish and Wildlife Service call for dam's removal.
1992: Corps decides to complete Elk Creek Dam; asks district court to dissolve injunction; US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management find the dam unreasonably diminishes wild anadromous fish in the federally-designated Wild and Scenic Rogue River; National Marine Fisheries Service calls for dam's removal; Oregon Wild and others file new federal lawsuit seeking removal of the dam.
Jan. 1993: National Marine Fisheries Service writes Corps of Engineers stating: "We are unaware of any other proven fish passage technique that has promise for effective fish passage at this project." And, "any operation of the dam to fulfill flood control purposes will damage anadromous fish habitat."
Oct. 1993: Oregon Wild and others petition to list coho salmon for protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Feb. 1994: Oregon Wild and others petition to list steelhead for protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Feb. 1994: US District Judge James Burns, leaves 1987 injunction in place and orders Corps of Engineers to do a study of the dam's potential effects on fish passage and the status of affected wild salmon and steelhead. District Court stops short of ordering removal of existing structure.
April 1995: Federal appeals court also upholds a new environmental review of Elk Creek Dam, citing failure to have examined water quality issues and scarcity of wild coho salmon.
Oct. 1995: US Senator Mark Hatfield, the leading proponent for the construction of Elk Creek Dam, announces he will retire from the US Senate.
Nov. 1995: US Army Corps of Engineers abandons the Elk Creek Dam project citing mounting fiscal and legal obstacles. Corps announces study on whether to breach or remove the dam.
June 1997: Coho salmon that spawn in southern Oregon and northern California are listed by the National Marine Fisheries Services as a threatened species.
Aug. 1997: National Marine Fisheries Service postpones its final decision to list Oregon steelhead (and other Evolutionary Significant Units) as threatened or endangered until February 1998.
Oct. 1997: US Army Corp recommends breaching Elk Creek Dam to allow fish passage.
Nov. 1997: US Representative Bob Smith holds a Congressional hearing on US Army Corps of Engineer's proposal to restore a fish passage corridor through the Elk Creek Dam. The Corps, National Marine Fisheries Service and Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife all testify in support of restoring fish passage. Representative Smith continues to oppose Elk Creek notching to the end of his 1998 term when he leaves office.
May 1999: National Marine Fisheries Service announced the designation of critical habitat for coho salmon in southern Oregon and northern California (Fed. Reg. Vol. 64, No. 86, May 5, 1999, pp. 24049-24062), which included Elk Creek. The critical habitat rule took effect on June 4, 1999.
June 1999: Congressman Greg Walden notifies the Corps that he opposes their efforts to notch the dam. And, prevails in Congress for FY 2000 to only continue to fund the existing fish trap and haul program, which is presently being used to move fish around the dam.
July 1999: Oregonian editorializes that Rep. Walden's goal "to block partial removal of the dam is not surprising…but is illogical."
Oct. 1999: National Marine Fisheries Service writes the US Army Corps of Engineers a letter saying: "The existing trap-and-haul facility below Elk Creek Dam is grossly inadequate for long-term passage of coho and steelhead around the dam..." A take is occurring due to the physical limitations of the instream trapping facility, and "excessive fish handling" is additionally "resulting in stress and potential injury."
Jan. 2000: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announces the death of approximately 1.3 million inch long spring chinook salmon fry, due to a failed pump at a Rogue River fish hatchery near Trail, Oregon. The loss was estimated as 60 to 70 percent of the year's production, with prediction that hatchery produced salmon returns in the Rogue River in 2003 could be cut in half. Glen Spain of PCFFA said the loss pointed out the problem of relying on hatcheries to restore declining salmon runs, and stressed the importance of wild fish restoration and habitat restoration.
March 2000: Six conservation, commercial and recreational fishing organizations filed a lawsuit in US District Court against the US Army Corps of Engineers for violating the Endangered Species Act, by failing to modify Elk Creek Dam and failing to consult with National Marine Fisheries Service on impacts to threatened Coho salmon.
January 2001: National Marine Fisheries Service issues a Biological Opinion, finding that any other option besides notching the dam and providing free passage would likely lead to threatened salmon species' extinction.
August 2002: Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber sends a letter to Congress urging them to allow the US Army Corps of Engineers to notch the dam in order to boost declining coho salmon runs. Also in August, a coalition of taxpayer groups and conservationists, including Taxpayers for Common Sense, send a letter to Congressional leaders urging them to prevent Rep. Walden from forcing the Corps to continue trapping salmon at the base of the dam and hauling them around it in trucks.
March 2003: Rep. Greg Walden attaches a stealth “budget rider” to a spending bill that blocks the US Army Corps of Engineers from implementing their plan to notch Elk Creek Dam. Instead the money is diverted to a scheme to continue trapping salmon and driving them around the dam in trucks.
October 2007: The Army Corps of Engineers releases plans to "notch" Elk Creek Dam. This dismantling of the dam would restore natural conditions to 5000 feet of stream channel and provide for passage of threatened coho salmon and other native fishes.
January 2008: The Army Corps of Engineers announces that work on the "notching" of Elk Creek Dam will begin in May 2008 with the bulk of the deconstruction occurring in the summer.
July 2008: The first blasts detonate at Elk Creek Dam, tearing away several tons of concrete. Approximately eight more blasts will follow as the creek bed is once again exposed.
September 2008: With blast work completed, Elk Creek is slowly rerouted into its natural stream bed. Re-vegetation work along the banks begins.