Soil & Water Conservation District
Lower Camp Creek Riparian Improvement
The Lower Camp Creek Riparian Planting Project capitalizes on years of investments made by many partners including OWEB, ODA, the landowner, and Crook SWCD. The project is intended to jump start instream and riparian processes by providing the system with the necessary tools to heal itself over time. Plantings will be strategically designed to maximize return on investment by prioritizing plant survival in order to provide the maximum amount of bank stability, instream shade, and fish and wildlife habitat. Beavers already occupy the site so container stock will be protected while relatively inexpensive, locally sourced willow cuttings will be left uncaged.
Previous OWEB funding was used to construct riparian fences allowing exclusion of grazing along 3.5 miles of Camp Creek and the Crooked River. Current managers are actively restoring the property for the benefit of wildlife habitat and watershed function. Restoration actions undertaken by the landowner include over 50% reductions in cattle numbers, rebuilding infrastructure to protect sensitive areas, riparian plantings, western juniper treatment, upland seeding and a rigorous weed treatment program.
Riparian zones are the dynamic interface between land and flowing water. The plant assemblages and communities in riparian zones help buffer inputs and the cycling of nutrients. The vegetative composition and structure of riparian zones is a function of elevation, stream gradient, floodplain width, and disturbance events such as flooding.
Ochoco Creek Fish Passage and Screening
This watershed-wide atlas for Camp Creek, a tributary to the Upper Crooked River near Paulina, will identify, locate, and prioritize all restoration work necessary to restore Camp Creek Watershed’s function to the highest attainable level. This watershed restoration atlas will provide a “blueprint” to begin working cost effectively in specific locations on resource concerns that have the most impact on overall watershed conditions.
Camp Creek is plagued by poor water quality, lack of emergent and woody riparian vegetation, and juniper encroachment as a result of past livestock grazing and fire suppression. Camp Creek has been identified by the Crook County SWCD as our number one focus area. This project is a partnership between the SWCD, Camp Creek landowners, OSU extension and a variety of local natural resource agencies to participate collaboratively to identify resource concerns, plan, and strategize the restoration of the Camp Creek watershed. An OWEB-funded watershed assessment developed in 2007 will serve as the basis for this work.
Remotely sensed imagery will give us a baseline condition of the geomorphic features and water holding capacity of the watershed.
Collecting data on the biophysical conditions as well as the socioeconomic priorities will help us develop a plan for future restoration.
Fostering the Natural Ecology of Resilient Landscapes on Hampton Buttes
Hampton Buttes rises nearly 1,000 feet above the expansive rolling sagebrush landscape of southern Crook County and serves an ecological intersection for a variety of sensitive species. This project area offers a precious combination of elevation and aspect, giving it the potential to provide highly productive habitat for species in need of seasonal forage and cover like sage-grouse and mule deer. Work here is driven by the well-documented need to enhance the resiliency of sage-steppe ecosystems and in so doing, benefit the wildlife and plant communities that depend on them. Our holistic approach focuses on an area on the north slopes of Hampton Buttes where alterations in natural disturbance regimes have caused plant communities to shift, degrading the native ecology. These shifts include juniper encroachment and the decline of native bunch grasses, forbs, shrubs, and quaking aspen.
This project will address many of the limiting factors identified for this area by working with private landowners to address multiple objectives using a landscape approach. Project elements will include: initiating prescribed burns on 1,895 acres of sage steppe that has been invaded by western juniper; cutting junipers on 2,184 acres of sage steppe, rejuvenate 36 acres of aspen woodlands by removing encroaching conifers and reducing browse pressure; Redevelop five springs and add wildlife escape ramps to improve livestock distribution, decrease grazing pressure, and preventing drowning at water sources. Partners include: landowners, NRCS, ODFW, and ODA.
This recently redeveloped spring shows a new trough placed outside the wet areas, seated on a hardened pad to prevent erosion, and outfitted with a wildlife escape ramp. All new troughs will feature a wildlife escape ramp.
Areas with that have been invaded by juniper but still have intact plant communities including perennial bunchgrasses, forbs and shrubs will be targeted for prescribed burns.
Fence will be constructed around 11 acres to reduce browsing pressure and encourage suckering. Conifers will be removed by cutting in some areas and burning them in other areas to benefit a total of 45 acres of quaking aspen groves.
Areas with annual grasses have been targeted for hand cutting instead of burning in order to help reduce spread of weeds. This area will be treated using ODFW Mule Deer Initiative funding. This will also allow for the retention of bitterbrush and other shrubs important to wildlife.
OWEB Small Grants
Crook County Soil and Water Conservation District began a new biennium of Small Grant restoration funding in July, 2021. The priorities of local restoration include water quality, instream process, and upland function. Anyone interested in applying should first talk with Andy Gallagher, who serves as the local Small Grant Team representative within the Crooked River Watershed.
The review process usually takes less than 60 days. Successful applicants have two years to complete the funded project with a maximum of $15,000 funds available for project.
Small grant funding has currently been expended until Fall 2023. If you are interested in future small grant funding and projects, feel free to contact Andy Gallagher at (541) 447-3548 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or stop by the office with any questions.
Examples of Past Projects
Providing livestock water off of the primary stream channel is a great way to help improve water quality. This trough is equipped with an escape ramp for wildlife.
OFF CHANNEL WATER
In sunny central Oregon solar panels are a cost effective way to pump water from the stream into troughs away from the creek banks.
Riparian fences create a buffer between the stream and grazing areas to help rest these pastures and allow stream side vegetation to recover.