Elk Creek Watershed Council, Umpqua Basin, Oregon

Buck Creek Instream Habitat Improvement

The Buck Creek project replaced two failing, undersized culverts with railroad car bridges. The project also improved habitat for coho in more than a mile of Buck Creek. A series of ten boulder weirs was constructed in the area below one of the culverts that had scoured out the channel downstream. Above this site, ten log structures and an additional boulder weir, were placed to slow water, to improve pool habitat, and to create complex habitat for juvenile coho.

1/20  This was one of three failing, undersized culverts that were blocking fish passage at this road crossing.
2/20  Along with the undersized culvert, the channel downstream had been straightened at some time in the past. Both led to increased water velocities that have left the channel incised - in many areas down to bedrock.
3/20  This section of bedrock offers no escape from predators, and supports few of the macroinvertebrates that young coho rely on for food.
4/20  In the summer, water temperatures in this bedrock channel are too high for juveniles to survive.
5/20  Jim Brick, ODFW Fish Biologist, checks out this pool on Buck Creek. The effects of even a single log can help create the habitat that juvenile coho need for survival.
6/20  Starting construction of the abutments for the new railroad car bridge.
7/20  The bridge was delivered on a flatbed truck.
8/20  The completed bridge.
9/20  This is what the stream, and the upper boulder weir, looked like just after construction.
10/20  After two years, the weir has trapped sand and gravel, and the channel has narrowed and deepened.
11/20  In late summer, there is still a pool below the weir.
12/20  The weirs downstream are building substrate as well.
13/20  After four years, the upper weir is totally buried. Water temperatures have been lowered since the bedrock has been covered, and summer stream flows will be improved as the water held in all this sand and gravel is slowly released.
14/20  This is the view from downstream.
15/20  During high flows in winter, the weirs are almost totally under water.
16/20  The weirs further downstream are also holding sand and gravel. This used to be almost solid bedrock.
17/20  These logs are ready to be placed in the stream.
18/20  The excavator was used to place log structures at ten sites in Buck Creek.
19/20  This is one of the log structures just after construction.
20/20  During high winter flows, juvenile coho will follow the slow water on the edges of the floodplain to escape being washed away by the fast water in the main channel.