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In late October, Rogue River Watershed Council, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and other partners replaced two push-up dams with concrete irrigation intake structures on Salt Creek (near the community of Lake Creek). Working with Cascade Stream Solutions, a team of local experts in biology and water management, and Trask Design and Construction, removing the two push-up dams (and installing the intake infrastructure), re-profiling and piping several hundred feet of the canal, re-setting two rotating drum fish screens, and installing over 50 logs in the stream brought three years of planning, fundraising, and permitting to a close.

This project is the second RRWC fish passage restoration effort on Salt Creek. Two years ago, we constructed a very similar project on two diversion sites nearly two miles downstream. By addressing fish passage at these four diversion sites, RRWC has removed over half of the ODFW priority fish passage barriers on Salt Creek, improving access to 3.0 miles of this small stream that is home to Coho Salmon, steelhead/Rainbow Trout, Cutthroat Trout, and, based on our fish salvage operations, many Pacific Giant Salamanders. Stay tuned as we hope to remove another two diversions on this creek in 2021.

The dedication everyone brought to the effort is the only reason we can chalk this project in the “completed in 2020” column. The South Obenchain Fire burned to within a mile of the project site and was extinguished with just enough time left to allow our team to complete the work within our “already extended” instream work window. Nothing written here can convey the hours of coordination and flexibility needed to organize and re-organize an instream construction project that lies in the path of a 32,500-acre wildfire.

RRWC thanks the Bureau of Land Management, Jackson Soil & Water Conservation District, Middle Rogue Steelheaders, NOAA Fisheries, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Water Resources Department, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, PacifiCorp, Resources Legacy Fund, Rogue Basin Partnership, Wild Salmon Center and especially C2 Cattle Ranch for their support of this project.
Photo credit: Cascade Stream Solutions