Creek restoration near completion

 

Last updated 9/28/2022 at Noon

SUE STAFFORD

Matt Mahoney, COIC youth employment counselor and crew boss, right, and COIC youth crew member Carson digging post holes for installation of the split-rail fence in Creekside Park.

A handsome new cedar split-rail fence runs along the top of the bank adjacent to Whychus Creek in Creekside Park. Shortly, a matching fence will be installed on the other side of the creek in the Creekside Campground. The cedar fence material was provided by Hoyt’s Hardware & Building Supply. The installation is being done by a work crew of high school students from the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council’s alternative education program (see sidebar).

The fences are part of the final in-city creek restoration work being overseen by the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council (UDWC) in partnership with the City. The UDWC raised $350,000 in grant funds for the project. Additionally, the City secured grant funds and allocated some City budget for their parts of the project.

According to Mathias Perle, UDWC program manager, “All the work we do on both public and private land is 100 percent grant-funded.”

Planning for the restoration work had been ongoing for a number of years, but was delayed due to COVID-19, a change of engineering firms, and forest fires. The first step in the project included removal of the sewer line from the upstream side of the South Locust Street bridge and burying it in the creek bed.

Following the installation of the ADA ramps on the pedestrian bridge across the creek, the City public works crew made modifications to the bridge, creating bump outs where people can stop to enjoy the views of the creek, allowing others to pass by. Ponderosa Forge created the metal railing with artistic panel insets on the ADA approach ramps to the bridge, and the public works crew installed the railing.

The actual instream and bank restoration work was accomplished in three weeks this past August by M&M Services LLC of Medford. The disruption in the park was minimal due to their years of experience with stream restoration work. Perle said M&M understood and appreciated the importance and high visibility of the park.

All the rocks, trees, and stumps used on the project were hauled from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) collection site off Three Creeks Road as they were needed, so they could immediately be put in place, eliminating the need for storage of materials in the park. Much of the natural material came from the Three Sisters Irrigation District canal piping projects. Perle said the entire project was an impressive collaboration of multiple local businesses and agencies.

The M&M stone mason who built the four sets of stone steps down to the creek handpicked his stones from the USFS site and marked them for delivery to the creek. He personally directed the placement of each stone by a mini excavator, assuring they were all level. The fences will have openings at the top of the four sets of steps, allowing access to the creek.

The final work on the project will be the planting of riparian-appropriate trees, shrubs, and plants along both sides of the creek between South Locust Street and the Highway 20 bridge.

Plants are coming from Clearwater Native Plant Nursery in Redmond and will include willow, alder, wood rose, and red twig dogwood.

The UDWC’s education director Kolleen Miller will oversee crews of volunteers and students for the planting effort to be done in October.

Two interpretive signs will also be placed on either side of the creek explaining the restoration project and its importance in enhancing fish passage in Whychus Creek.

Perle described the outcome of all the work done: “Whychus Creek through Sisters is ‘a lot more fishy.’ ” In other words, more fish-friendly with places in the creek for fish to hide and rest.

Perle praised the City public works department for all their good work and great assistance, on the project. They offered a lot of extra assistance like moving the piles of cedar posts to the other side of the creek for the COIC crew as well as loaning their utility trailer to the crew to haul gravel from Sisters Rental to the creek site.

 

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