Staley Creek Floodplain Restoration
Constructed in summer 2017; monitoring – ongoing
46 acres – 1 stream mile
US Forest Service Middle Fork Ranger District, Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife
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. Through monitoring efforts, the Middle Fork Ranger District has observed the return of bull trout and harlequin ducks!
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.
Pre-project aerial video
Post-project aerial video
Cluer, B & Thorne, C, 2013. A stream evolution model integrating habitat and ecosystem benefits. River Research and Applications, 30:135-154. Link
Powers, PD, Helstab, M, & Niezgoda, SL, 2018. A process-based approach to restoring depositional river valleys to Stage 0, an anastomosing channel network. River Research and Applications, 2018:1-1. Link