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CURRENT
PROJECTS

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. 

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Riparian Ecosystems
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.
Camp Creek

Ochoco Creek Fish Passage and Screening

Our project area is anchored by the confluence of Ochoco and Marks Creeks in the Upper Ochoco Watershed. Marks Creek is the largest tributary to Ochoco Creek and is an important source of cold water to the upper watershed, located east of Prineville.

These streams exhibit rich ecological potential but past management and barriers to fish migration and survival have fettered their productivity. With proper fish passage and screening this lush valley can offer important spawning and rearing habitat for resident redband trout (a state and federal sensitive species), while continuing to provide excellent big game habitat and agricultural production. Significant instream and riparian restoration was completed in 2020 to improve habitat and passage in the section above our proposed project reach. Our project will solidify that investment by creating a barrier free system from Ochoco Reservoir to Marks Lake, improving the connection to an additional 15 miles of improved habitat.

HABITAT CONNECTIVITY

Ochoco Creek provides beneficial habitat for Red Band trout and other species. Removing barriers within the stream allow connectivity of separated sections of prime habitat.

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RESTORATION NEEDS

The old barriers prevented fish to pass over and access other habitat throughout the stream. Headgates have also been replaced as fish were often being found in irrigation ditches.

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Hampton Butte

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.

SPRING DEVELOPMENTS

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.

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PRESCRIBED BURNS

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.

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ASPEN REGENERATION

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.

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JUNIPER CUTTING

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.

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Small Grants

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 andy.gallagher@oregonstate.edu; or stop by the office with any questions. 

Examples of Past Projects

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SPRING DEVELOPMENT

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. 

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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. 

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RIPARIAN FENCING

Riparian fences create a buffer between the stream and grazing areas to help rest these pastures and allow stream side vegetation to recover. 

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