Beeson-Robison Fish Passage Improvement

When: Completed 2017
Where: Wagner Creek, a tributary of Bear Creek

Objective: A dam removal project to improve fish passage, open up additional spawning habitat, improve juvenile fish survival, and improve the control of irrigation water diversion

Five-foot-high dam impeding fish passage

Wagner Creek is one of the most valuable fish-bearing streams in the Bear Creek watershed. Summer and winter steelhead utilize it, and there is strong potential for Coho Salmon to use it as well. The Beeson-Robison diversion dam, a 5.5-foot-tall concrete structure, presented a complete barrier to juvenile fish and impeded upstream migration of adult fish in most flow conditions. It was also a very labor-intensive point of diversion for 19 water rights holders.

The dam was removed and replaced with a “roughened” channel, a carefully engineered structure that mimics the natural streambed. The roughened channel was built by carefully setting and partially burying large boulders, and then placing and compacting smaller rocks and streambed material around the boulders. Channels and “jump pools” created in the roughened channel allow for water passage and fish movement. A new irrigation diversion headworks was constructed at the upstream end of the channel to allow better control over irrigation water diversion. New pipe was installed to connect the new intake system to the existing ditch and fish screen. Native shrubs were planted in the streamside areas disturbed by construction activities to provide shade to the stream and stability to the streambanks.

Roughened channel replacing the dam

Removal of the dam and construction of the roughened channel improves the ability of fish to reach three miles of spawning and rearing habitat, which will lead to more spawning and better juvenile fish survival. Another win: the new irrigation system significantly reduces maintenance labor for the ditch irrigators.

This project would not have been possible without the funding and support from the following:

Beeson-Robison Ditch Association, Jackson Soil & Water Conservation District, Middle Rogue Steelheaders, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Pacific Power Blue Sky Fund (administered by the Freshwater Trust), Patagonia Environmental Grants, Resources Legacy Fund, Rogue Basin Partnership, Rogue Flyfishers, Schwemm Family Foundation, Southern Oregon Fly Fishers, Trout & Salmon Foundation, WaterWatch of Oregon