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Building Strong® at Jess Dam and Lost Creek Reservoir

Lost Creek / William L. Jess Dam and ReservoirWilliam Jess Dam is on the Rogue River, about 28 miles northeast of Medford, Ore.

The William L. Jess Dam at Lost Creek is a 327-foot-high rockfill embankment structure with a gated spillway. Jess Dam was the first of three multi-purpose storage projects finished in the Rogue River Basin project. Authorized primary purposes include flood risk management, water quality improvement, irrigation, fish and wildlife habitat enhancement and recreation.

In 1996, Congress renamed Lost Creek Dam in honor of William L. Jess, a strong advocate for the construction and multiple uses of impounded waters, and one of the founders of the Rogue Basin Association, established in 1955.

Link to PDF version of Lost Creek map

Lost Lake project data

Dam length 3,750 ft 1,143 m
Height 327 ft 100 m
Elevation (NGVD*) 1,882 ft 570 m
Max. capacity 49.2 mw
Lake length 10 mi 16 km
Lake area (full) 3,430 ac 1,389 ha
*National Geodetic Vertical Datum
(Mean Sea Level)

Lost Creek hydropower

Generators/total output two 49.2 mw

Operations: Jess Dam

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Environmental concerns prompted the Corps to construct an innovative multi-port intake tower, allowing operators regulate the temperatures of water released from the lake by mixing water from different depths.

In the summer, regulating water temperature improves conditions for migrating fish in the Applegate and Rogue rivers. The returning fish are collected just below the dam and transported to the Cole M. Rivers Fish Hatchery, located just downstream of William L. Jess Dam on the Rogue River, for spawning. Later, juveniles are released into the Applegate River to maintain the runs.

The William L. Jess Dam and intake structure is a 327-foot-high rockfill embankment structure. Construction began in 1967 and the lake began filling in February 1977.


A regulating outlet tunnel, power penstock, and intake tower with multi-level intakes are located in the dam's right abutment; a gate-controlled concrete chute spillway is located in the left abutment. The powerhouse's generating capacity of 49,200 kilowatts comes from two 24.6-megawatt generators.


Lost Creek’s intake structure combines lake water from different depths in a mixing chamber before releasing it downstream, regulating the water temperature and improving conditions for fish migration and survival.


Runoff from a drainage area of 674 square miles pools into Lost Creek Lake. The lake provides 465,000 acre-feet of total storage. It has an area of 3,430 acres when full.

For more information

Lost Creek / Jess Dam brochure

Contact us about Jess Dam:

Phone: 541-878-2255

Email us about Jess Dam / Lost Creek

Reservoir elevation, flow and temperature report: 800-472-2434

Jess Dam / Lost Creek recreation

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Overlooking Lost Creek Reservoir, this area is surrounded by wildlife, large conifer trees and mountains. Hike or bike the 11-mile trail system through the forest with year-round streams and wildlife viewing. Take a swim in cool mountain water, rent a boat from the marina, or troll the 10-mile lake for trout and bass. If you prefer, bring your own boat and water skis.

Operating hours: Open from March 1 through Oct. 31.

Directions: From Medford, take OR-62 East towards Crater Lake/Klamath Falls for 33 miles. Park will be on the left.

For more information, call the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department's general information line at 800-551-6949 or see http://www.oregonstateparks.org/park_30.php

The park is located on State Highway 62, the Rogue-Umpqua Scenic Byway, near Cole Rivers Fish Hatchery. Dedicated in July 1977, McGregor Park was specifically designed for the convenience of visitors with disabilities. The visitor center displays information about local plants, wildlife, geology, and cultural history, with interactive exhibits that provide fun, hands-on exploration for kids and adults. An interpretive trail is a short walk from the visitor center, with information about local river ecology and all the wildlife, insects, birds and plants that rely on the waterway.

Operating hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.

Directions: From Medford, take OR-62 East for about 30 miles. Turn left on Takelma Drive. Visitor center will be on the right.

For more information, call the Bureau of Land Management at (541) 618-2468 or visit http://www.blm.gov/or/resources/recreation/mcgregor/

To reserve a nature walk, call (541) 878-2255 or email dll-cenwp-rogue-rangers@usace.army.mil.

River’s Edge Park, just downriver from William L. Jess Dam, is a great place to host a family get-together, summer picnic or birthday party. The park's group pavilion is available by reservation from Memorial Day to Labor Day; each year's reservations are accepted starting Jan. 1. Availability is first-come, first-served; no weddings are allowed.

Directions: From Medford, take Oregon State Hwy. 62 east for about 30 miles. Turn left on Takelma Dr. and follow the signs for the project office. The park will be on the left.

Reserve the group pavilion by calling 541-878-2255 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, or by emailing: dll-cenwp-rogue-rangers@usace.army.mil

The Rogue River Basin Project offers tours of our working powerhouse at Jess Dam. Feel the Rogue River thunder over your head while standing on a generator creating electricity.

Operating hours: Tours are available by reservation only, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. To reserve a powerhouse tour, call 541-878-2255 during operating hours, or send an email to dll-cenwp-rogue-rangers@usace.army.mil

Directions: From Medford, take Oregon State Hwy. 62 east for approximately 30 miles. Turn left on Takelma Dr. and follow the signs for the project office.

Lost Creek map

Rules, policies & related

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National Recreation Reservation Service logoThe National Recreation Reservation Service shows available campsites and lets users make reservations.*

Campsites can be reserved up to 240 days in advance and group facilities up to 360 days in advance. Call 1-877-444-6777 or go to http://www.recreation.gov. Click here for  a list of Corps facilities.

*(Note: not all recreation sites take reservations)

Some life jacket loan stations are only available seasonally; contact each site's managing agency for detailed dates of availability outside of the summer recreation season.

Day-use fees, including boat ramp and dump station fees, will be collected while parks are available for camping. No fees are collected during park closure dates. Some boat ramps outside fee campgrounds will charge a $3 launch fee per day, which is valid at any Corps-managed recreation site for day it was purchased.

Some designated swim beaches outside fee campgrounds may charge a use fee of $1 per person over the age of 12 or in a vehicle up to $4. However, if a vehicle has more than 8 passengers over the age of 12, there will be a fee of $1 for each additional individual over the age of 12.

All fees have been set to maintain comparable fee schedules with other federal, state, county and private campgrounds. All fees meet the requirements set in Engineering Publication 1130-2-550. Fee comparability within the same state and district is outlined in Paragraph 9 of EP 1130-2-550.




333 SW 1st AVE




CENWP-DE                                                                                                   27 September 2012

SUBJECT: Commander’s Policy Letter #19, Geocaching Within Portland District Boundaries

1. Purpose. Geocaching may be allowed on public lands managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in accordance with the Code of Federal Regulations Title 36 (CFR 36) and any applicable state or local rules and regulations, provided the activity is conducted in an unobtrusive manner. Geocaching can be an appropriate and compatible recreational activity on public land and water, as long as common sense guidelines are followed. Some Corps projects have used the popularity of the sport as an innovative tool to distribute information, such as water safety, in geocaches on Corps-managed lands.

2. Definition of Geocaching. Geocaching is an outdoor adventure activity for users of global positioning systems (GPS). Individuals and organizations set up geocaches (caches) all over the world and share their locations, often through the Internet. Numerous web sites are available, with one of the most popular being http://www.geocaching.com/. GPS users can then find the caches through published coordinates and site descriptions. Most commonly, a geocache is an object or container holding small objects for exchange. The finder may remove the enclosed "prize" and leave another, sign a logbook, or utilize a number of variations. Some "caches" are simply locations with unusual vegetation or unique land features the cache owner wants the cache hunter to experience (virtual caches). There is also a derivative form of the sport that searches for published coordinates of an existing historical monument, plaque, or benchmark.

While geocaching has become the standard name for the sport, other terms include Navicaching, GPS Orienteering, GPS Stash Hunt, and Benchmarking.

3. Policy. In accordance with 36 CFR 327.19 or 327.21, District Engineers, or their designees, may develop permit systems or policies to track and/or control placement of geocaches on project lands, provided this use does not conflict with project missions or security. Simplicity and ease of compliance should be emphasized. Information needed from the proposed geocache owner will include the cache coordinates (location), his/her name, and his/her address and phone number. The intent of collecting this information is to keep track of the location and number of caches on the project and to contact the owner if the cache needs to be removed. During application, the project should ask the proposed cache owner to provide a current picture form of identification with an address to confirm the applicant's identity. This information is voluntary; however, the applicant’s request can be denied for failure to comply with the information request. The project is required to store this information in a secure manner. Geocache objects or containers should be clearly identified as such when placed on public lands. Transparent containers are required, due to homeland security issues. Caches should not contain alcohol, illicit, or other inappropriate materials. It is the due diligence responsibility of the Project Operations Manager to work with the cache owners and jointly conduct periodic cache inspections to insure they are not being used for illicit and/or inappropriate purposes.

a. Individuals or groups that participate in geocaching activities on Corps property must be responsible for coordinating these activities with the Portland District, to help prevent potential conflicts with management activities (i.e., controlled burns, timber sales, planting, etc.)

4. Restrictions. It is the due diligence responsibility of the Project Operations Manager to establish designated areas where geocaching will be allowed and other areas where it will be restricted. Geocaching activities will not be allowed to occur in restricted areas where there could be conflicts with project missions, project security, or the safety of the general public.

Examples where geocaching would not be allowed include but are not limited to:

a. In designated restricted areas.

b. lf the cache, directly or indirectly, would negatively affect ecologically, environmentally, or socially sensitive areas (i.e., threatened or endangered species, critical habitats, cultural resources, tribal lands without consent, etc.).

c. In areas with potential safety risks, such as unstable banks, cliffs, or other hazards.

d. Where geocaching activities may interfere with established public uses, such as boat launching, picnicking, swimming, etc.

f. Where geocaching activities may interfere with the operation or security of the project.

5. Management Considerations. Management considerations at individual projects may require other permanent or temporary measures to ensure that geocaching activities are compatible with other project uses. For example, a project may need to prohibit geocaching during active management in an area for timber harvest, prescribed burning, hunting, or other wildlife management activities. Some projects may want to encourage and actively participate in geocaching activities to promote the Corps message in a positive way.

a. In certain instances, it may be necessary to issue a Special Event Permit in compliance with Title 36, 327.21. Conditions that may warrant the need for a Special Event Permit may include one-time activities that are publicly advertised, commercial in nature, involve large numbers of participants, provide cash prizes or other significant awards, or may potentially conflict with other uses of an area, etc.

b. If a cache must be removed from public lands for operational, safety, environmental, cultural, or other reason, a reasonable effort should be made to contact the cache owner and request removal. If the owner cannot be found, or the cache is not removed within a reasonable time, the cache may be removed and impounded as abandoned property, under 36 CFR 327.15.

6. Summary. In general, geocaching can be a fun and appropriate recreational activity at Corps projects, provided the security or missions of the project are not compromised. It provides an opportunity for positive interactions and partnerships with local groups involved in this activity.

Monitoring of web sites, communication and participation with these groups can form healthy relationships with benefits to all involved. Working with these groups can prevent problems and promote the Corps as a willing partner. Regulation should be based on common-sense needs of specific projects or areas, with a minimal permitting burden on the recreating public.

7. Point of Contact. The point of contact is Mr. Doug Dailey, CENWP-DE, (503) 808-4441.

                                                                 //original signed//

If you're enthusiastic, enjoy new people and want to protect parks, then you might want to be a volunteer!

Volunteer park hosts inform visitors, register campers, assist at entrance stations, conduct customer comment surveys, open and close parks, pick up litter, perform minor maintenance and support interpretive programs. Hosts live in the parks and inform Park Rangers about emergencies or visitor complaints. Volunteer hosts must work at least 20 hours per week, and stay in the park during certain hours to assist visitors as needed. In return, RV sites with full hookups are provided. Current Corps of Engineers openings are listed at the Volunteer Clearinghouse.

Natural Resource Volunteers assist the Corps throughout the year with natural resource management activities. Volunteers are often recruited volunteers from the community for special events such as: Earth Day, SOLV Beach and Riverside Clean-Up, Down By the Riverside and National Public Lands Day. Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, church members, school groups, and other community groups have helped with litter clean-ups, trail work, non-native plant removal, habitat improvement and tree planting.

For more about volunteer opportunities, please contact one of our Park Rangers:
Willamette Valley: Ron Colletti, 541-942-5631
Rogue River Basin: April Andujar, 541-878-2255
Bonneville Lock and Dam (Columbia River): Ryan Braaten, 541-374-8820
The Dalles Lock and Dam (Columbia River): Amber Tilton, 541-506-7857
John Day and Willow Creek dams (Columbia River): Greg Volkman, 541-506-7899

For both safety and security reasons, the operation of aircraft, including drones (formally known as Unmanned Aircraft Systems) may not be operated within 500 feet of operational areas at Corps projects. This includes land with structures such as dams. Click here for the complete District policy memo.

The Corps of Engineers, National Weather Service and other agencies cooperatively gather and analyze data for current and projected future reservoir and river level information.

NWS: Northwest River Forecast Center

   EP 1165-2-316 outlines Title 36 rules and regulations for recreation at U.S. Army Corps of Engineers locations.