Little Butte Creek Floodplain Rehabilitation

When: Completed 2019
Where: Little Butte Creek, a major tributary of the Rogue River

Objective: An in-stream and stream-side restoration project to improve water quality, enhance fish habitat, and increase native plant diversity

Steep eroding bank on Little Butte Creek

Little Butte Creek contributes to the seasonal drinking water supply of over 136,000 Rogue valley residents. It is also a priority stream for the recovery of threatened Coho Salmon. Unfortunately, due to land management practices, erosion is high, water quality is low, and Coho Salmon habitat is limited.

To alleviate erosion, the steep banks were gently sloped with heavy machinery and engineered logjams were buried in the riverbank. Part of the logjams extended into the stream channel to create pools and overhead cover for fish habitat. Smaller engineered logjams were installed in the floodplain upstream of this area to slow overland flows and allow sediment to settle out. A side-channel was graded, weeds were removed, and a berm between the mainstem and side-channel was breached in three locations to aid in wetting the side channel year-round. Two acres along the stream and side-channel were planted with native trees and shrubs to shade the water and—eventually—provide a source for future natural wood jams.

Engineered log structures installed in re-contoured streambank

High flows inundated the project site in the winter and spring of 2019. Floodwaters were dispersed on the floodplain upstream of the in-bank logjams, decreasing the energy of the high flows. The large logjams held the bank in place and the side channel provided much slower flows than the mainstem, providing refuge for juvenile fish. This project is already showing its value in preventing erosion and providing habitat for fish.

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

City of Eagle Point, Medford Water Commission, Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Pacific Power/Blue Sky Habitat Fund (administered by The Freshwater Trust), Drinking Water Providers Partnership (U.S. Forest Service and Oregon Health Authority), Rogue Basin Partnership