Eastern Oregon Grassland and Creeks Restoration Project
Growing Solutions is project manager for a 1000-acre parcel in eastern Oregon. For the last 15 years Growing Solutions has been enhancing habitat functions on the property.
The property hosts two creeks, one annual and one perennial. After the logging of the early 20th century the creek was severely compromised by clearcutting followed by intensive cattle grazing. This resulted in the creeks straightening which lead to scouring and creekside erosion. Further, an overload of cow manure polluted the ponds resulting in a wholesale breakdown of once-thriving creek habitat. These ponds, located over 600 miles from the ocean, are vital spawning grounds for migratory fish such as the Steelhead trout and Chinook salmon.
With funding and technical expertise from ODFS we fenced cattle out of the creek from ridgeline to ridgeline. Over time trees falling have increased the sinuosity of the creek, creating riffles and pools and attracting increased creek flora that shade and cool the water. This results in prime habitat for juvenile fish and supports a whole food web of other species. Current monitoring indicates there are 18 different species of fish now living in the rehabilitated creeks. This past fall the The Network Of Oregon Watershed Councils mapped 2.5 miles of creek with a flying drone camera. This documentation helps monitor fish spawning sites and the general changes in creek behavior and health.
Cattle grazing is being re-purposed to benefit the grasses, herbs, flowers and the elk and deer that graze on them. As the diversity of grassland increases so do the elk, deer and the apex predators that hunt them. The camas and other wild flowers are recovering and many Ponderosa pine seedlings are appearing with the implementation of rotational grazing. In sum, increased overall function and stability of the creek ecosystem.
In addition, Growing Solutions is working with botanists from the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. By strategic planting we are seeing the rare and declining species increase and revive and sustain themselves.
We have put together a diverse group of stakeholders and could not have restored this property without them.
- Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW)- Grand Ronde Fish Habitat Program
- US Department of Agriculture Natural Conservation Service (NRCS)
- Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR) -Fisheries Division
- The Network of Oregon Watershed Councils
- Adam Green, grazer
- Chris Gibson, game manager
- Bob Holowecky, forester
Bob recently passed away. In remembrance of him we have planted 1000 Ponderosa pine seedlings. His contributions continue to live on.