This is my own little personal stream project to restore part of Wildcat Creek into better salmon, trout, and steelhead habitat. Like many streams and rivers over the years in Oregon there have been several decisions over the years by private landowners and public departments that have caused a huge impact to these fish. One of the worst was one my father remembers from when he was a youngster. According to him ODFW decided in the 1960’s that the log jams in the creek were keeping the steelhead and salmon from migrating upstream during spawning season. Their solution to this was to take a bulldozer in the summer and drive down the middle of the creek and push all of these log piles out of the stream. The impact of this was that during the first high water levels of the winter there were no logs to slow down the water. This caused all the gravel from the creek bed to wash away all the way down to bed rock. All of these fish species are dependent on gravel to spawn and lay their eggs.
Over the years there has been a few trees that have fallen back into the creek but not large numbers like there used to be. Most of the deepest pockets of water are now only 2-3 feet deep during the summer. Also several areas of the bank are unstable and are washing away during the high water. This first project is to work on stabilizing the bank and narrowing the channels so the water gets deeper.
There are several things that can be used to stabilize the bank. The best thing to use would be planting rushes and sedges along the bank so the roots would keep the dirt from washing out. The hard part about that is that if they don’t put down deep roots in the first year than during high water they will wash away also. I am going to use a technique I learned about in my fisheries classes in college. It involves using small trees that are tied into place along the stream side. The reason that this works is because the faster water is moving the more dirt it can carry with it. When you slow it down even a little bit the dirt will settle out of the water. I have several small firs to clear out of the field so I am taking advantage of them to use them in this spot. The main thing to remember is to fix the trees in place so they don’t wash out. I am going to use some stakes made out of willows and tie them into place with some biodegradable baling twine. By using green willow poles I might be able to get some of them to sprout out and help with shading the stream in this section also.
I still need to put the stakes in to anchor them into place but it is a good start for what I would like to do. Next will be some rock weirs to channel and create some deeper pools for the fish fry during the summer months.