THE US ARMY CORPS OF Engineers (USACE) has announced plans to build a new fish trap at Elk Creek dam on Elk Creek – a tributary of the Rogue river in Oregon, US. The trap will help in the capture and haul of salmon past the half-built dam for the next several decades.

US President Bush has signed into law a bill sponsored by Oregon congressman Greg Walden that forbids USACE from pursuing its original plan to cut a notch in the dam, so fish can swim unimpeded past the structure on Elk Creek less than 3km from its confluence with the upper Rogue river.

The notch was to be rebuilt if the dam were ever finished, after its construction was halted in 1987 by legal action filed by conservationist groups.

The new law has already drawn sharp criticism from environmental groups that continue to insist the half-built dam must be removed to protect the basin’s salmon and water quality.