This riparian restoration project is located along the Coast Fork Willamette River and Bear Creek. The Coast Fork Willamette River supports native cutthroat trout and Pacific lamprey. This area has been impacted by past land use and two flood control dams located upriver from this site. Riparian trees were removed to accommodate non-riparian plant species for agriculture and grazing livestock. This led to significant reductions in large wood levels in rivers and tributary streams which has reduced pools, cover, and other rearing habitats for fishes. The lack of a fully functioning riparian corridor has contributed to water quality concerns like high summer water temperatures, erosion, altered nutrient inputs, and anadromous fish habitat. Grazing livestock removed stream side vegetation indiscriminately, compacted, and disturbed soils, and broke down banks, resulting in both channel incision and the widening of stream channels. Modification of these riparian systems was continued by the colonization by nonnative and invasive plants, reducing the overall habitat suitability for wildlife.
We started by removing non-native and invasive plants with a combination of mowing, hand cutting, and chemical treatments. A variety of native grasses were broadcast seeded in the Fall of 2017 to reduce soil erosion prior to tree and shrub establishment. Planting of the native trees and shrubs occurred in the February 2018 on all 40.95 acres. The entire project area has been fenced off from livestock and tree tubes were installed to prevent loss from browse.
A total of 42325 of trees and shrubs were planted. 98% of plants appear to be surviving. Re-establishing a native riparian buffer in this lower reach of this system can benefit fish and wildlife habitat and improve water quality by shading the water, filtering out fine sediments and nutrients and eventually contributing large woody debris. These actions will also help to stabilize stream banks, filter runoff, provide nutrients essential to aquatic insect and fish populations and improve habitat connectivity for wildlife.