Restoring access to rearing habitat for native fish
Bear Creek is a perennial stream which flows into the Middle Fork John Day River (MFJDR) roughly a mile downstream of Galena, OR. During the 1930s dredge mining occurred on the MFJDR including its confluence with Bear Creek, altering the creek’s base elevation and accessibility to anadromous fish. In all but the highest water years, Bear Creek is completely inaccessible to anadromous fishes. In addition to mining at the confluence, extensive placer mining occurred within Bear Creek itself. Mining, past timber harvest, and road building have left Bear Creek in an over-simplified, channelized state characterized by long, shallow riffles with little deep pool habitat.
Bear Creek is heavily influenced by landslide related ground water which maintains perennial flow and low water temperature throughout the low flow period (typical 7DADM = 65F). This project restored connectivity at the confluence of Bear Creek and the MFJDR, restoring unimpeded access to over 4 miles of Bear Creek by native fishes including adult steelhead and Chinook salmon. To maximize this impact, the North Fork John Day Watershed Council (NFJDWC), partnering with the US Forest Service (USFS) and the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon (CTWSRO), also placed large wood and removed valley constraining berms and levees to enhance geomorphic and ecohydrologic processes and functions to support limited over-summer rearing habitat for steelhead and Chinook salmon.