Staley Creek Floodplain Restoration

Location

Upper Middle Fork Willamette, approximately 20 miles south of Oakridge, OR

Target Habitat

Rivers and streams – floodplains

Timeline

Construction summer 2017; monitoring – ongoing

Project Size

46 acres / 1 stream mile

Partners

US Forest Service Middle Fork Ranger District, Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife, Haley Construction Company

Funding

Summary

Rivers and streams naturally meander, spread out, and create new paths. During spring runoff and floods they often overflow their banks and spill onto the floodplain. In the summer, water that runs through floodplains provides a cool escape for fish and other species. Floodplains also slow water down protecting downstream locations from high flows. In Staley Creek, a tributary of the upper Middle Fork Willamette River, those processes and benefits had been lost because of historic land use practices that led to straightening the channel and building berms to disconnect it from its floodplain. To remedy that, in July and August 2017 we worked closely with the US Forest Service Middle Fork Ranger District and Haley Construction Company to remove the berms, fill in the scoured out channels, and place hundreds of pieces of large wood in the stream and on the floodplain. The final product is 46 acres of floodplain reconnected over one stream mile. We expect this new, dynamic landscape to dampen flood events, raise the water table and increase flood water storage. By restoring these hydrologic processes, we expect that habitat conditions will improve and, in turn, benefit fish and wildlife.

Photos

Before and after photos show a change from disconnected floodplain, no large wood and an incised channel to wetted floodplain, lots of large wood and no dominant channel.

Before
After
Before
During
After

Check out the gallery below for photos that highlight our work at Staley Creek. For even more please visit our facebook album.

Video

Pre-project aerial video

Post-project aerial video

River otters!

Floodplain Research

Cluer, B. & C. Thorne, 2013. A stream evolution model integrating habitat and ecosystem benefits. River Research and Applications, 30:135-154. Link

Powers, P., Niezgoda, S., & M. Helstab. In Prep. Geomorphic Gradeline method for establishing valley profile during Stage 0 restoration.