DALLAS -- Rickreall Creek is facing a log jam.
But local officials say that's exactly what it needs.
On May 16, Friends of Delbert Hunter Arboretum got a $142,000 grant to restore the creek to its natural state.
Some of that money will go toward an engineered log jam designed to build up the creek bed and provide fish habitat.
If left undisturbed, Rickreall Creek would snake from side to side, cutting a new path as it flows over the seasons.
But as the creek passes through Dallas, that freedom of movement is limited by houses on both sides. And when a creek can't stray, it cuts downward into the bedrock.
As it passes through Dallas City Park, Rickreall Creek has dug itself a 16-foot bank, Jackie Hastings said. Hastings, the Rickreall Watershed Council's coordinator, said the bank is unstable and could crumble into the water.
Grant money will help volunteers slope the creek's bank back to create a safer flood zone and protect the nearby homes from flooding.
Native plants on both sides would keep the bank stable. Securing an artificial log jam would trap gravel useful for spawning fish.
Although the grant -- from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board -- provides the bulk of the money, the project depends on local volunteers. The City of Dallas and Friends of Delbert Hunter Arboretum will provide money and labor.
Hastings wrote the grant and set the groundwork for the project on behalf of the Rickreall Watershed Council. The Polk Soil and Water Conservation District will lend technical and financial support.
Dallas High School volunteers will help with planting along the banks. Weyerhaeuser will donate the trees for the log jam. And Dalton Rock will provide half-priced rock and some trees.
After the improvements, the site will serve as a living museum for stream enhancement, with signs and tours to describe the project. "It's going to be a great site to send people to see how this works," Hastings said.
Dallas City Manager Roger Jordan hopes the project will spur more creek rehabilitation. He envisions the creek as a tourist attraction.
"This is going to be quite the model showpiece for the area."