Oregon fines lake reserve community $429K after fish deaths

February 22, 2021 GMT

BIRKENFELD, Ore. (AP) — The state of Oregon has fined Fishhawk Lake Reserve and Community northwest of Portland $439,200 for draining a reservoir and allegedly killing more than 30,000 fish.

The homeowners association plans to appeal the fine, The Astorian reported. Fishhawk Lake is a private community around a reservoir formed in the 1960s by an earthen dam. The homeowners association maintains the lake, processes water and treats sewage.


The lake feeds into Fishhawk Creek and the Nehalem River. The homeowners association drained the lake in 2019 to fix a broken drain in the dam.

A state investigation found draining the lake and the turbidity it caused downstream killed 20,539 endangered coho salmon, 4,047 steelhead trout, 5,346 cutthroat trout and 459 trout of undetermined species.

The state also directed the homeowners association to create a water quality management plan and a 10-year schedule for becoming compliant with standards for temperature and dissolved oxygen within the lake and creek.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking a separate claim against the association for the fish kill, but didn’t disclose the amount.

The homeowners association has argued that the state mandated the drain repair and was kept informed through the process. It also denied being responsible for a fish kill.

Fishhawk Lake “implemented specific measures to prevent fish mortality, including following the direction of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to conduct the work during the in-water work window.”