Butte, Ruby, Beaver Creek Restoration Phase
In 2020, the Watershed Council partnered with the Malheur National Forest to complete ~3 miles of instream restoration on Butte, Ruby and Beaver Creeks, all tributaries to the Middle Fork John Day River. These stream reaches contained 57 log weirs that can act as juvenile salmonid passage barriers as well as 18 rock barbs that can inhibit the creek from accessing the floodplain during high flows. In addition to removing these barriers, large wood was placed in the creeks in order to slow down the water and provide fish habitat. Through the effort of both volunteers and contractors, 6,000 willows and cottonwoods were planted along the stream reaches.
Update 8/2023: This summer we completed the final 3/4 of a mile of instream work on Butte Creek.
Picture: Butte Creek during instream work in July 2023
Camp Creek Planting
In 2020, the Watershed Council continued partnering with the Malheur National Forest to work on Camp Creek, a tributary to the Middle Fork John Day River. This tributary is important juvenile Steelhead and Chinook salmon habitat as well as supporting spawning Steelhead. Many habitat improvements have been implemented over the years, however, there is a lack of riparian shade in many sections of Camp Creek. This project seeks to increase shade on Camp Creek by planting 24,000 rooted willows and cottonwoods and then protecting them from browse with six buck and pole and two wire exclosures. These exclosures will be maintained until a certain percentage of the riparian vegetation grows tall enough to withstand browse pressure from deer and elk, then they will be removed.
Update 8/2023: The last exclosure was built this summer, completing the project.
Picture : Camp Creek during moderate flows in spring 2023
Big Creek Exclosures
In 2022, the Watershed Council partnered with the Malheur National Forest to build two buck and pole exclosures on Big Creek, a tributary to the Middle Fork John Day River. These exclosures will protect the recently restored floodplain from cows, elk and deer, until the riparian vegetation can establish. Restoring floodplain connectivity is important for keeping water on the landscape longer, allowing a healthy riparian community to flourish and providing habitat and forage for a multitude of species including fish, birds, amphibians, and ungulates. These exclosures will be removed once the riparian vegetation is well established.
Picture: Big Creek exclosure and floodplain in May 2023