North Creek Update: Project Planning is coming to a close, and restoration is just about to begin. (May 2019)
We're excited to announce that the North Creek Project is fully funded! In total, over 50 individuals made donations that were successfully leveraged into state and federal funding agreements, enabling us to break ground this summer. Thank you for helping make this project a reality!
This coming fall, Chinook and coho salmon, along with Steelhead, coastal cutthroat, and lamprey, will be able to freely access the habitats of North Creek for the first time in 62 years. Upon completion, this project will open up about 16 miles of high quality fish habitat by removing a dilapidated culvert and replacing it with a bridge like structure. It's been near five years in the making but without your voices and support this project would have never taken flight and that is something to be quite proud of!
The partnership and hard work by the Forest Service, Midcoast WaterShed Council, Salmon Drift Creek Watershed Council, Drift Creek Camp, the Bluebacks Chapter of Trout Unlimited, and Native Fish Society culminated in making this project a reality. Thank you to everyone who has contributed!
With your help, we can increase the health and abundance of wild salmon, steelhead, trout and Lamprey on Oregon's Central Coast.
Our goal is to reach 100 individual supporters to demonstrate broad public support for this North Creek Project. By donating to this project at a level comfortable to you -- you are demonstrating to the agencies the importance of this project and adding your voice to the growing list of supporters that will provide an important match to the secured state grants we have obtained. The large federal grants needed to restore this creek are increasingly competitive and with your help we can demonstrate the public support necessary to replace this failing culvert with a bridge and allow wild fish to once again have free reign in this old-growth watershed.
About the North Creek Project
River Steward Matt Lund rallied his community to write a letter to the USFS concerning the problematic conditions at North Creek. Now the MidCoast Watersheds Council, the Salmon Drift Creek Watersheds Council, Siuslaw National Forest, Bluebacks Chapter of Trout Unlimited, and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians are all partnering to complete this restoration project.
Before road construction in 1958, small boulders, cobble, and gravel settled near the mouth of North Creek as each storm flow subsided. Excellent salmon spawning and rearing habitat was formed. The 4.4 square mile North Creek watershed was home to migratory Chinook and Coho salmon, steelhead, sea-run cutthroat trout, and pacific lamprey. Fifty-seven years ago, during construction of Forest Road 1790, a culvert less than half bank full width was placed 750 feet above the mouth of North Creek.
Road/stream crossing structure replacement at Road 1790/North Creek will restore fish access to an estimated 13 miles of sea-run cutthroat trout, 5.4 miles of winter steelhead, and 3.4 miles of Oregon Coast coho salmon habitat. Restoring stream bank width at this road crossing will allow cobble, gravel, and large wood to one again form Chinook salmon spawning and rearing habitat near the mouth of North Creek. The Drift Creek basin, according to genetic studies completed by the Confederated Tribes of the Siletz Indians (see attached support letter) contains a population of Chinook Salmon distinct within the Siletz River Basin.
The Oregon Fish Commission identified the North Creek culvert fish passage a problem in 1961. Over the years, engineered fish passage improvement projects have been attempted but all have failed. Storm flows destroyed concrete lined pools below the culvert outlet in the early 1960's. Concrete weirs built in 1982 were unsuccessful even with modifications and the addition of boulders and large wood. North Creek below the culvert had been Chinook spawning and rearing habitat. High culvert water velocity eroded stream cobble and gravel leaving exposed bedrock. Chinook salmon have not been found in North Creek for decades. Culvert replacement with an aquatic organism passage structure is the only solution to restoring fish passage and watershed processes to North Creek.