In 2009, The Freswater Trust began an exciting integrated project in the Rudio Creek Basin of the John Day River system in eastern Oregon. The long-term goal of the project is to fully restore the Rudio Creek Basin by integrating our tools of flow and habitat restoration, while also collaboratively incorporating the skills, knowledge and goodwill of multiple landowners and other partners. The focus of our work in the short-term is:
- to restore a wet meadow ecosystem with a complex, meandering stream on Rudio Ranch;
- develop a monitoring plan and collect baseline data for the watershed;
- collaborate with landowners and local entities in the basin to develop a community-supported approach to the restoration work; and
- create a prioritized list of future efforts to address restoration at the watershed scale.
Anticipated outcomes of the Rudio Ranch work include:
- increase in spring Chinook and steelhead productivity in Rudio Creek;
- increase in pool depth, pool frequency and complexity, large wood recruitment and retention time;
- increase in hardwood overstory;
- decrease in stream temperature;
- increase in water retention and summer instream flows; and
- increase in beaver dams/beaver population.
The re-establishment of persistent beaver dam complexes will be an integral part of Rudio Creek restoration as a means to increase summer cold water storage and the amount of pool habitat available to juvenile salmonids. Beaver are present at the project site and dams are constructed on an annual basis, though spring run-off in the currently straightened, unrestored channel eliminates the structures.
Work at Rudio Ranch, along with past work restoring flow to Rudio Creek at Campbell Ranch, will serve as anchor projects for the larger basin-scale planning effort. The projects are intended to build trust in the vision for basin-scale restoration success, serve as examples from which to learn in an adaptive manner and demonstrate the ability of restoration work to bring economic and ecological enhancements to rural working landscapes instead of conflict and impoverishment.
The Rudio Creek project is funded in part by Pacific Power's Blue Sky Habitat Fund.