Sugarpine Creek Riparian and Habitat Complexity Restoration

When: Completed 2017
Where: Sugarpine and Hawk Creeks in the Elk Creek watershed

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

Sugarpine Creek is a tributary to Elk Creek and provides spawning and rearing habitat for Coho Salmon, Chinook Salmon, Rainbow Trout/steelhead, and Cutthroat Trout. Stream habitat is not complex on this stream, largely because large downed logs are not present in the stream channel. Dense stands of blackberry along Sugarpine Creek on several properties inhibit the growth of native trees and shrubs (which would provide shade to the stream), which leads to warming of stream flows.

Steep, cut bank along Sugarpine Creek side-channel prior to project implementation

We placed 11 log structures at strategic locations along Sugarpine Creek and another three along Hawk Creek. Additionally, we sloped a steep, cut bank forming along the outside bend of a side-channel and installed another eight log structures to limit further erosion. We removed blackberries from five acres of streamside habitat and planted nearly 1,000 native shrubs and trees like ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, Oregon ash, white alder, oso berry, Pacific ninebark, and red-osier dogwood. The native trees and shrubs will hold streambanks in place, provide shade, and eventually become the next generation of log structures.

Sugarpine Creek side-channel after bank re-contouring and installation of log structures

Many of the log structures on Sugarpine and Hawk Creeks are accumulating silts, sands, and gravels – all important habitat types for a range of aquatic animals from Pacific Lamprey, to Coho Salmon, to foothills yellow-legged frogs. Erosion along the outside bend of the side-channel has stopped, and native plant survival and growth at the site has been very good thanks to the tireless effort of the Middle Rogue Steelheaders and the partnering private landowners.

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

Bureau of Land Management, Middle Rogue Steelheaders, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, private landowner, US Forest Service – Rogue-Siskiyou National Forest