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Monitoring & Research

The NFJDWC participates in monitoring and research throughout the John Day Basin. Current monitoring and research focus on resource impacts post restoration and system-wide limiting factors and data-collection analysis, to identify trends and causes of limitations to anadromous fish production.

John Day River IMW
(Intensively Monitored Watershed)

The Middle Fork John Day River represents a vital cold water fishery which has historically been very productive for bull trout, Chinook salmon, and steelhead.  The Intensively Monitored Watershed (IMW) in the Middle Fork has sought to provide a platform for researchers to study many different factors affecting fish production in an anthropologically impacted system with active restoration being performed.  The IMW began in 2008.  Originally planned as a 10 year study, the IMW continues today to continue monitoring and observe longer term trends that exist in riverine systems.  The NFJDWC currently collects macroinvertebrates, hourly temperature readings, and water discharge at several key creeks throughout the upper Middle Fork.

For more information visit:

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North Fork John Day River Monitoring

With the advent of the John Day Basin Partnership (JDBP) and the Focused Investment Partnership in the John Day Basin, it was found that, unlike the Middle Fork, the North Fork of the John Day River has a limited amount of data available to evaluate common limiting factors for fisheries.  While still in the early stages of implementation, the North Fork Monitoring project will expand water temperature and discharge monitoring throughout the North Fork, supporting restoration and management for the JDBP.  This project is also poised to support specific restoration projects and will provide valuable information that can be used to prioritize or eliminate certain practices that prove more or less effective.

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The NFJDWC works with local, state, federal, and academic organizations to conduct research and study hypothesis pertaining to watershed production for both fish and upland species, as well as the effects that various resource demanding operations have on watershed systems.  Range monitoring, water quality, and water quantity are areas of special interest to the Council as these are indicators of watershed health.  The Council considers all watershed issues from a ridgetop to ridgetop perspective. While there is generally much interest in the stream prism, the uplands have a significant impact on water.  Many of these effects are not fully understood and quite a lot of research is still needed to improve the knowledge and management of these important ecosystems and landscapes.

Below some of our current Projects

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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

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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

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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

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