Public can aid in creek restoration

Restoration improvements like those along Rickreall Creek (pictured) are part of a plan in place by Polk SWCD for the North Fork of Ash Creek in Polk County.

POLK COUNTY -- Local residents have a chance to lend a hand on a restoration project on Ash Creek's North Fork planned for this summer.

The Polk Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) is looking for logs with root wads intact as well as boulders to enhance a half-mile segment of the creek, south of Clow Corner Road and two miles west of Highway 99W.

Shawn Woods, Polk SWCD resource management technician, said the creek -- which drains into the Willamette River -- is essential habitat for winter steelhead, chinook salmon and cutthroat trout.

The creek has become "extremely channelized" over the past few decades, flowing fast and straight -- which degrades juvenile fish habitat, Woods said.

About 20 boulders -- three to four feet across -- and 70 logs will be placed throughout the creek, causing the stream flow to "meander" and reduce velocity. Root wads at the surface will trap sediment and build up gravel on the banks to create habitat for the insects fish eat.

"We probably still need another 20 logs and a few more boulders," Wood said. "We're also going to improve the banks by sloping them and planting native vegetation."

Total project cost is $151,493. More than $63,000 will come from a grant through the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife's landowner incentive program, and the rest through matches and donations.

Last month's storms have made finding material easy, Woods said.

"We've had a great response from the public so far, especially with all the trees that have come down," Woods said. "We've been able to take a bad situation and use it."

The owners of the property where the enhancement will take place have requested their names be withheld from publication, Wood said.

The work is scheduled to start and finish this summer.

Besides the stream, Polk SWDC will also use logs and boulders to build a 2-acre wetland just south of the area to improve habitat of the red-legged frog, an ODFW species of concern.

Donations of material are tax deductible. Douglas fir logs are preferred. A presentation on the project will take place at 7 p.m. on Jan. 28 at Dallas City Hall. For more information: Shawn Woods, Polk SWCD, 503-623-9680.

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