Sweet Home, OR
The South Santiam Watershed Council focuses its restoration efforts on two subwatersheds: Hamilton and McDowell Creeks. These streams are listed as essential salmonid habitat and exceed water temperature standards. Many reaches are degraded due to livestock or agricultural practices, but interested landowners have stepped forward to enroll in the USDA Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP) to facilitate weed removal, livestock exclusion fencing and native plantings. The Council has also designed and installed several instream habitat projects to enhance channel complexity for native fish.
In addition to its local efforts, the South Santiam Watershed Council is also part of a formal subregional partnership with the Calapooia and North Santiam Watershed Councils, where the partners share staff and other resources to help achieve collective restoration goals. This arrangement has allowed the Councils to expand their restoration program delivery and increase effectiveness.
In spring 2010, the Council held community meetings and a site tour to share information and gauge landowner interest in restoration. Several landowners requested site visits to help them identify resource concerns and discuss potential solutions. During a site visit to one property along McDowell Creek, the landowner expressed concern about streambank erosion due to livestock access, invasive weeds and a loss of the riparian buffer. The owners also wanted to see more fish back in the stream.
The Council presented several options to the landowner, and after family consultation they decided to enroll in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). The CREP was attractive to landowners because it subsidized the cost of restoration and offered annual payments for the streamside area that was taken out of grazing production as a result of restoration.
The landowner also addressed runoff along a small feeder drainage by partnering with Linn Soil Water Conservation District and the Council on an Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) small grant proposal. Local contractors removed blackberry, fences were built to exclude cattle from waterways, off-channel watering facilities were set-up using a well and solar pump, and vegetation was planted to help minimize erosion and catch sediment. Riparian plantings along McDowell Creek will follow once the blackberry is controlled.
With funding from OWEB, in 2011 the Council helped the landowner improve channel complexity and fish habitat by placing large wood in the stream. Other landowners along this stretch of McDowell Creek have also decided to implement restoration, creating several miles of contiguous anchor habitat along the stream.
—Eric Anderson, Monitoring Coordinator, South Santiam Watershed Council