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Instream Enhancement

Instream log and boulder placements account for a majority of the work carried out throughout the Smith River Watershed. This practice is aimed at enhancing stream habitat for salmon and steelhead by returning large woody debris to the stream channel. Historically, large timber would naturally fall into the stream, providing structure which slowed down stream velocities and helped to accumulate gravels and other substrates that salmon and steelhead require for spawning beds. These large pieces of wood also create rearing pools which juvenile salmon and steelhead depend on. These pools provide food, shelter from predators, and refuge from high velocity stream events, and lower stream temperatures, among many other services.

Recent Projects

North & South Sister Instream Restoration Project (2023)

This project is located on the North and South Sisters Creeks, tributaries of the Smith River 42 miles from the town of Reedsport Oregon. Placing large wood and boulder structures within these streams will increase substrate accumulation, subsurface flow, floodplain connectivity, and provide both summer and winter refugia for native salmonids.  SRWC staff and project partners have placed 774 logs and 3135 boulders across 81 sites on South & North Sister Creek. These sites are spread across a total of 10 stream miles, greatly increasing availability of habitat beneficial to native aquatic species such as anadromous salmonids and lamprey.

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Spencer Creek Instream Restoration (2023)

This project placed 109 logs, and 463 boulders across 15 sites along Spencer Creek. Completed instream sites encompass 3 miles of stream, significantly improving habitat complexity for native aquatic species such as anadromous salmonids and lamprey. The primary issue this project sought to address were areas primarily dominated by bedrock streambeds with limited large wood recruitment in nearby riparian areas. The simplified nature of bedrock stream areas reduces aquatic species production and resiliency. 

Past Projects

Spencer Creek Falls - Falls Modification Project (2022)

This project was determined to be necessary by Smith River Watershed Council (SRWC) after review of ODFW OASIS spawning survey data indicated that adult Chinook were unable to pass the falls, and adult Coho could only pass the falls during moderate to high flows. Spawning survey data indicates Coho migration is delayed by the falls as it was previously configured.

SRWC utilized a local contractor for project implementation. Handheld power tools were utilized to break up the top-of-falls weir and expand the jump pool. In addition to the weir and jump pool, a large boulder was removed to improve the landing pool as fish navigate up the falls. An excavator was utilized to remove newly created debris as well as surrounding concrete, rebar, and cable remaining from legacy infrastructure.

 

Lower Wasson Creek Riparian Restoration (2022)

15.5 acres have been treated through a combination of mechanical removal and subsequent chemical treatments, resulting in a dramatic reduction of Blackberry biomass. Native tree plantings were completed spring of 2022, resulting in the placement of 11,850 native conifers and riparian species. A 4.5-acre area not previously treated was mowed and sprayed late fall 2022. 

 

Spencer Creek Instream Restoration Project (2021)

SRWC goals for Spencer Creek consist of restoring high quality salmonid spawning and rearing habitat, increasing anadromous species production, and improving overall habitat and stream function. During the instream water work window of 2021, SRWC oversaw the placement of 25 log and boulder structures along 3.25 miles of stream. These structures will help accelerate the restoration of natural stream function in a mostly bedrock dominated stream. 

South Fork Smith River Instream Restoration Project (2020-2021)

This project sought to promote the restoration of natural stream processes which are advantageous to native salmon and trout species. Historic land-use practices left the South Fork Smith River predominantly bedrock streambeds mostly devoid of large wood. The lasting impacts of historic activities in and along these streams have significantly diminished ecological processes beneficial to aquatic species.

Starting in 2019 SRWC began work installing log and boulder structures in South Fork Smith in 2020. By 2021, a total of 59 individual sites containing 618 logs and 2160 boulders along 8.5 miles of stream had been completed.

 

Big Creek Sub-Basin Instream Restoration Helicopter Project (2019 & 2021)

Through use of a Boeing Vertol helicopter, 537 logs were placed in 63 sites throughout the headwaters of Big Creek, Argue Creek, Devil's Club Creek, Coldwater Creek, Clearwater Creek, and Slide Creek. The use of a helicopter allows for the placement of instream enhancement sites consisting of logs in areas not accessible by excavator and other large equipment. Logs were attached to long lines by choker and lowered into the stream while ground crews directed their placement. Project partners include the Bureau of Land Management, Roseburg Resources Co., Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Umpqua Fishing Derby, Douglas County Timber Operators, Western Native Trout Initiative, and Columbia Helicopters.

Halfway Creek Instream Restoration (2019-2021)

69 instream log and boulder sites were placed over 3 miles of stream by excavator. A line-puller was utilized to place an additional 800 pieces of large wood throughout the system. Halfway Creeks stream bottom is dominated by bedrock, lacking gravels and large wood to capture them. Log and boulders  were placed in combination and designed to capture debris and substrates traveling downstream and to raise the stream height to interact with the floodplain. This project was completed through cooperation and assistance by the Bureau of Land Management and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

 

Big Creek 6th Field HUC Instream Restoration (2017/2018) 

108 log and boulder structures placed across 7 miles of Big Creek, and 3 of its tributaries, Mosetown Creek and Blind Creek by excavator. Project partners: Roseburg Forest Products, Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Bum Creek Instream Log Placement (2017)

Excavator placement of 22 log and boulder structures throughout 1 mile of upper Bum Creek. Project partners: Roseburg Forest Products, the Bureau of Land Management, Umpqua Fishing Derby, Western Native Trout Initiative, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Smith River Tributaries Instream Restoration - Phase II (Vincent Cr. and Scare Cr.) (2014)

By helicopter and excavator, 73 structures were placed over 4.5 miles of Vincent Creek and 22 structures placed over 1.5 miles of Scare Creek. Project partners: Roseburg Forest Products, the Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Umpqua Fishing Derby.

Smith River Tributaries Instream Restoration- Phase I (North Sister Cr. & Scare Cr.) (2014)

43 restoration structures placed across 3.5 miles of Scare Creek and 29 structures placed across 1.5 miles of North Sister Creek by excavator. Project partners: Roseburg Forest Products, the Bureau of Land Management, Umpqua Fishing Derby, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Vincent Creek Instream Restoration (2012)

63 log and boulder structures placed by excavator across 3.5 miles of Vincent Creek. Project partners: Roseburg Forest Products, Bureau of Land Management, Umpqua Fishing Derby, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

South Sisters Structure Placement Phase V (2012)

67 log and boulder sites were placed throughout 4.5 miles of South Sister Creek, North Sister Creek, and Russel Creek by excavator. Project partners: Roseburg Resources, the Bureau of Land Management, Umpqua Fishing Derby, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

South Sisters Structure Placement Phase IV (2011)

40 log and boulder structures placed across 2 miles of South Sister Creek and Jeff Creek by excavator. Project partners: Roseburg Forest Products, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Bureau of Land Management, Douglas County Timber Operators. 

Jeff Creek Structure Placement II (2010)

12 log and boulder structures were placed across 0.75 miles of Jeff Creek by excavator. Project partners: Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Umpqua Fishing Derby.

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