Salt Creek at River Mile 3.5

When: Completed 2020
Where: Salt Creek, a tributary of Little Butte Creek

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

Salt Creek is a small stream that meets Little Butte Creek near the community of Lake Creek. Despite its size, it maintains a steady flow of cool water throughout the summer, making it a very good place for cold-water fish like trout and salmon to rear. Unfortunately, eight diversion dams interrupt fish movement along roughly four miles of lower Salt Creek. These diversions primarily impact the movement of juvenile trout (Rainbow Trout/juvenile steelhead and Cutthroat Trout) and Coho Salmon during the summer months. But they also slow Coho Salmon and steelhead on their way to spawning grounds in the late fall and winter. Additionally, historical and current agricultural and forest management practices are the dominant land-use in this region, which can have negative effects on water quality and various aquatic and terrestrial habitats.

One of the push-up dams removed at this project
One of the push-up dams removed at this project

Two push-up dams, one on private property and the other on public land, impeded juvenile fish passage at this project location. To improve passage, we converted the two diversion intakes by replacing the dams with pre-cast concrete irrigation intake structures and headgates. A total of 680 linear feet of open irrigation ditch was also piped to improve water delivery. Existing fish screens were re-set to move them closer to each point of diversion, the upper site’s point of diversion was moved approximately 180 feet upstream, and the creek was returned to its historic channel. In addition, a total of 54 pieces of large wood were placed at 13 locations across both sites.

The result of this project has lasting improvements to fish passage, stream processes, and aquatic habitat, particularly for juvenile and resident fish, in tandem with more efficient water management for the ranch.

Installation of on eof the pre-cast concrete irrigation intake structures
Installation of on eof the pre-cast concrete irrigation intake structures

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

Bureau of Land Management, C2 Cattle Company, Cascade Stream Solutions, Middle Rogue Steelheaders, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, NOAA Fisheries, PacifiCorp, Rogue Basin Partnership, Trask Design & Construction, Wild Salmon Center