The Calapooia Watershed Council is focusing restoration in two key areas: the Courtney/Spoon Creek subwatershed and 8-miles of the middle Calapooia River mainstem. The Courtney/Spoon Creek subwatershed contains high priority wetlands that provide habitat for species in decline (such as grassland birds, shorebirds and Western pond turtle) and has limited riparian cover along its perennial streams. The Council is focused on educating residents about the importance of these wetlands and potential funding opportunities, and is implementing riparian planting projects with willing landowners.
The middle reach of the Calapooia River is a dynamic river corridor identified for protection and restoration for native salmonids. While the Council continues outreach to landowners, it has completed several large-scale projects to improve channel complexity and fish habitat, to enhance floodplains and riparian areas, and to reconnect side channel habitat.
In addition to its local efforts, the Calapooia Watershed Council is also part of a formal subregional partnership with the North Santiam and South Santiam Councils, where they share staff and other resources to help achieve their collective restoration goals. This arrangement has allowed the Councils to increase their restoration program delivery and effectiveness, reducing the per acre cost of projects over approaches taken before joining the Model Watershed Program.
In spring 2010, the Council held community meetings and a tour of restoration sites in the Courtney/Spoon Creek subwatershed to meet landowners, introduce them to program and restoration goals, and discuss information gathered during the 2009 stream survey.
Several landowners were interested in working with the Council on riparian restoration, but were concerned about the financial implications of taking agricultural lands out of production by setting aside a riparian buffer. Landowners were routinely referred to the USDA Conservation Research Enhancement Program (CREP), which offers cost-shares for restoration practices and annual rental payments. While the CREP has been in place for years, many landowners were not aware of the program or were hesitant to get involved. The Council encouraged participation by agreeing to “walk beside” landowners as they moved through the planning and the implementation process. The USDA program helps stretch limited grant dollars, resulting in significant improvements to overall watershed health. Multiple landowners are now enrolled, which has allowed the Council to leverage its project fund capacity significantly.
Several landowners in Courtney Creek are also considering the Wetland Reserve Program through the Natural Resources Conservation Service. In 2010, one landowner applied to protect over 60 acres that are home to rare Willamette Valley plants.
—Sarah Drydahl, Project Manager, Calapooia Watershed Council