Santa Cruz, CA
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  Portland, OR
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Fox Creek Restoration Plan

09 019 P5020060 webClient: North Fork John Day Watershed Council

Fox Creek has been identified as an important spawning and rearing tributary to the North Fork of the John Day River in Eastern Oregon. Impacts to the stream and watershed include fish passage barriers associated with passive diversion structures, water withdrawals during the critical low flow summer season, lack of adequate fish screening at water diversion sites, and severe channel incision that was causing reductions in water quality associated with bank erosion and loss of a continuous riparian canopy, loss of functional floodplain habitat, and conversion of productive hay fields to marginal rangeland as water tables declined. These changes were having a noticeable impact on the economic viability of the land and the sustainability of natural ecological processes.

fox creek creekWaterways was hired to develop a restoration plan for approximately 14 miles of the mainstem of Fox Creek with a focus on improving habitat conditions for winter steelhead and addressing concerns expressed by land owners. Most of the study area occurs on private land with the upper portion occurring on U.S. Forest Service land. The assessment focused on characterizing how Fox Creek may have functioned historically, how it is currently functioning, and what the historic trends say about the expected future condition. Restoration opportunities and constraints were identified throughout the entire project area and were prioritized through a collaborative stakeholder process. The project determined to be the highest priority is located on the mainstem of Fox Creek upstream of Highway 395. The project consisted of installing plugs (pond and plug approach) in a trapezoidal channel constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers in the 1950’s that was designed to drain the wet meadow. In the 1980’s ODFW plugged the ditch to reroute water back into the original, sinuous meadow channel. Unfortunately, not enough plugs were used and high flows still accessed the Army Corps channel, resulting in flanking around the constructed weirs and concerns that the natural channel was going to be recaptured by the Army Corps channel.

Waterways was hired by the watershed council to design a fix at the site and supervise construction. The project was constructed in the summer of 2012. The plugs in the channel capture groundwater, creating wetland habitat in the meadow. Over time, these “ponds” will fill with organic material and sediment.

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