Milk Creek Project: Adding Materials to the Engineered Log Jam

We abbreviate “engineered log jam” as ELJ. The photos collected today show the final length of the structure, and the progression of work as slash, cobbles, and boulders are used to fill in the ELJ. (Technically speaking, this is actually a “vegetated log matrix,” but only the specialists understand that term, so I’ll stick with ELJ for now!)

In some photos, the water looks muddy, but the creek has been diverted around the work area and that flowing water is running clear. We’ve seen fish of various sizes and species in the pond above the project site, and have salvaged a few that were found from the dewatered stream channel.

The landowner barbecued lunch for the crew today, and we celebrated great progress made on this project. Water quality will improve, fish habitat will be enhanced, and private property will be better protected: it’s a win all the way around!

Why is this project needed?

Here’s what we wrote in one of the funding applications to describe the need for the work:

The project is on Milk Creek, a major stream in the Lower Molalla River watershed in western Clackamas County. Work will take place on three adjacent private properties on both sides of the creek. Milk Creek is a primary production stream for coho, listed spring chinook, listed winter steelhead, and resident cutthroat trout. Assessment, TMDL, and salmon recovery plans for the Molalla and Milk Creek watersheds recommend riparian and in-channel restoration, sediment reduction, large wood placement, and restoration of channel hydrology.

Watershed issues this project will address: lack of in-stream habitat, simplified channel structure, changes in stream hydrology, sediment inputs from bank erosion, high water temperature, and need for watershed stewardship education of local residents.

Proposed solutions: bank shaping; placement of a vegetated log matrix; removal of invasive non-native vegetation; heavy planting of native trees, shrubs, and cuttings; outreach and education.

Success measured through: photopoints, plant surveys, water sampling, pebble counts (gravel deposition), landowner response to workshops and site tours.

What are the benefits of this project?

We expect these environmental benefits from this restoration project:

  • Reduce bank erosion and sediment inputs into the creek.
  • Reduce water temperature by providing shade.
  • Provide cover, shade, and refugia for fish during various life stages.
  • Restore habitat diversity and complexity.
  • Provide a source of large wood for future fish habitat.
  • Enhance the long-term process and function of Milk Creek.
  • Increase habitat diversity for birds, pollinators, and other wildlife.

Photos taken September 6, 2012

 

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