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Elk Creek River Mile 5.6

Improving water quality, enhancing fish habitat, and increasing native plant diversity in one of the Rogue Basin's salmon strongholds.

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Completed Restoration  Actions

30

Acres of riparian rehabilitation

200

Pieces of large

wood placed

7,300 

Linear feet of wildlife-friendly livestock exclusion fence

RVCOG

The Restoration of a Watershed

Elk Creek winds its way through protected forests before flowing out onto a wide, low-elevation floodplain. Known fondly by RRWC staff as a "wildlife wonderland," a vast diversity of wildlife and plants live in the watershed. 

Historical management activities resulted in large-scale modifications to Elk Creek’s mainstem channel and its side channels, floodplains, and tributaries. Streams were channelized, large wood was removed from the active stream channel, riparian forests had been cleared, and riparian areas had been heavily grazed by livestock. Aquatic habitat conditions had become degraded, especially rearing habitat for juvenile salmonids.

Elk Creek river valley from above

RVCOG

Starting in 2017, RRWC set to work to begin restoring this Rogue Basin stronghold. At river mile 5.6, RRWC installed large wood structures in strategic locations throughout more than two miles of channel. Restoration also included reconnecting a seasonal side channel to the primary channel in addition to treating  30 acres of floodplain forest using integrated pest management practices to help recover native plant communities. These actions resulted in the reconnection of Elk Creek to its floodplain, increased inundation of off-channel habitats, and the creation of complex habitat in three side channels – all leading to improved rearing conditions for juvenile salmonids and habitat for several fish and wildlife species.

Calm pool of water near large wood strucuture
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In the next 20 years, RRWC plans to have restored the lower 10 miles of Elk Creek.

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More from the Elk Creek Watershed

A partial dam, turned wildlife refuge and community resource 

As a part of a three-dam Rogue Basin construction project, the development of the Elk Creek Dam was initiated in 1971 and partial construction followed 15 years later. However, after push-back from conservation organizations, the dam construction was never completed, and following nearly 25 years of litigation, the dam was finally notched (broken through) in 2008.

Now, in the present day, this special Rogue River watershed is designated as Wild & Scenic and primed for restoration, offering refuge for diverse and threatened wildlife, and a resource for the community. 

A Salmon Stronghold

Elk Creek is a target watershed for the Coho Strategic Action Plan because it provides critical spawning and rearing habitat for a diverse variety of anadromous and resident fish species, including fall and spring Chinook Salmon, Coho Salmon, winter and spring steelhead, and Pacific Lamprey. Cutthroat and Rainbow Trout have been found throughout the creek and its tributaries. Many of these tributaries provide the cool water and critical spawning habitat that support native fish populations of the Rogue Basin.

A five-mile multi-use trail

A decommissioned road stretches for five and a half miles along the Wild & Scenic Elk Creek. Community members enjoy biking, running, horseback riding, and hiking along this trail as they take in the beauty of Elk Creek. At the parking area, and around mile 4 on the trail, you can find RRWC-installed interpretive signs.

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