Elk Creek Watershed Council, Umpqua Basin, Oregon

Coles Valley Fish Passage Improvement

The landowners in the upper reaches of Coles Valley Creek have been working on improving their watershed for a long time. They have worked with the Douglas Soil and Water Conservation District to complete projects that replaced culverts, fenced livestock out of the creek, planted trees in the riparian area, and installed off-channel watering systems. By the summer of 2012, there were still two large culverts on the main creek that were partially blocking salmon from the upper reaches.

In 2013, the Elk Creek Watershed Council and the Douglas SWCD began working on a project to replace these culverts. Using 12-foot, half round culverts that were donated by the Roseburg District BLM, and with funding from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) and the BLM Resource Advisory Committee, these culverts were replaced in the summer of 2013.

Since these needed to be big culverts, and the ones we had were only 20 feet long, the designs were critical. Don Porior of Porior Engineering, designed a solution that called for using vertical walls on the ends. Called a "Hilfiker Wall," they used a series of welded-wire panels with rock facing. Construction was completed in the summer of 2013.

1/15  This is a view of one of the culverts that was replaced in Coles Valley Creek.
2/15  Construction begins on the lower culvert.
3/15  The first footing for the 12-foot, open bottom culvert.
4/15  Setting the culvert in place with the excavator.
5/15  The Hilfiker Wall was constructed in layers.
6/15  The wall is complete, and the road is ready for gravel.
7/15  The banks have been restored, and mulched to prevent erosion.
8/15  ... and the road restored.
9/15  After a year, the stream has adjusted.
10/15  The footings have been set for the upper culvert.
11/15  Construction on the upper culvert is nearly complete.
12/15  After some rain has started the creek flowing again.
13/15  After a year, the creek has stabilized.
14/15  After two years, the creek is flowing, and vegetation is holding the banks.
15/15  Juvenile coho above the upper culvert.