McKenzie River Reflections - Make the McKenzie Connection!

Riparian work begins for floodplain restoration

Project is tied to Fall's return of salmon

 

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Before construction work began, crews worked to capture fish and other aquatic life in the project area for release in nearby water that would not be affected by construction activities.

FINN ROCK: "It is important that the restoration work be completed before the salmon arrive from the Pacific Ocean in early September," according to Daniel Dietz, the McKenzie River Trust's Conservation Director. "When completed, the restoration will improve salmon spawning and rearing habitat, including for juvenile Spring Chinook, and increase nesting habitat for Western Pond Turtles, as well as address Elk Creek bank erosion and flood mitigation."

Project details include a temporary water diversion of the lower Elk Creek side channel, fish and aquatic organism relocation to unimpacted areas, earthwork, and placing logs and other large wood pieces to create a complex habitat, The Elk Creek side channel will have water restored once the habitat work is complete, along with replanting of the site with native trees and shrubs.

Benefits of the project are expected to be a doubling of the amount of water flowing through channels and wetlands and dramatically improving habitat quality for spring Chinook salmon, bull trout, Pacific lamprey, rainbow and cutthroat trout, as well as Western pond turtles, and many other species of fish and wildlife.

"The Finn Rock project is modeled after the floodplain restoration project completed on the South Fork McKenzie River in 2018 and 2019, where we've seen huge increases in rearing and spawning habitat for salmon, trout, and lamprey," says Kate Meyer, a Fisheries Biologist with the U.S. Forest Service. "The USFS is excited to partner with McKenzie River Trust on this project as it complements completed work and planned future work to restore floodplain connectivity to the Middle McKenzie Valley and help recover Chinook and bull trout populations."

Additional benefits include protect drinking water, especially after large scale fires, such as the Holiday Farm fire that burned last September. According to Karl Morgenstern, the Watershed Restoration Program Manager for the Eugene Water & Electric Board, "One of the main strategies for buffering the impacts to drinking water quality from these large burned landscapes is to implement floodplain restoration projects like the McKenzie River Trust is doing at the Finn Rock Reach."

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Morgenstern added that allowing the river to reconnect with its historic floodplain and spreading out the flow, "Reduces river flow velocities that allow sediment to drop out while attenuating the increased levels of nutrients, metals and organic carbon that are being mobilized off the upstream burned landscape during storm events."

Partners in the Finn Rock In-Stream Restoration Project include the U.S. Forest Service, McKenzie Watershed Council, EWEB, and McKenzie Homewaters Campaign. Other funders and partners include the Bonneville Power Administration and the Bureau of Land Management.

 

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