LP Brown Foundation awards The Freshwater Trust $25,000 for new restoration in John Day Basin

January 8, 2016

The Freshwater Trust has received $25,000 from the LP Brown Foundation to support the design, planning, and pre-project monitoring associated with the launch of a new habitat restoration project in Eastern Oregon’s John Day River basin.

The new project will improve habitat and fish passage on 2.1 miles of the Middle Fork John Day River and 0.2 miles of Bear Creek near the town of Galena.

“The LP Brown Foundation has long been a supporter of our efforts to benefit native fish species and local communities,” said Alan Horton, managing director of The Freshwater Trust. “This project will go a long way toward improving the survival of Chinook and steelhead.”

During the late 1800s and early 1900s, the Middle Fork John Day watershed was altered to facilitate logging, mining, agriculture, and grazing. Dredge mining — a form of vacuuming the bottom of a creek or river — channel straightening, and the removal of streamside vegetation have taken a toll on the habitat quality of the basin. Rock piles left over from mining have blocked the Middle Fork John Day River’s confluence with the tributary Bear Creek, significantly limiting fish passage.

“This watershed is dripping with history,” said Horton. “Nearly every waterway in our country tells a visible story of the way it’s been used. We now have the opportunity to take steps that will improve the health of this basin and its aquatic species.”

The Freshwater Trust and its partners will return a section of the Middle Fork John Day to its historic alignment and restore fish passage to Bear Creek. The reintroduction of large wood and the replanting of native trees are also among the activities to be carried out as part of this project.

For more than a decade, The Freshwater Trust has worked with local partners to implement restoration projects throughout the basin. This new project is directly adjacent to a 2.9 mile stretch of the Middle Fork John Day that was previously restored with support from the LP Brown Foundation.

“The degraded conditions of this river and the opportunity for it to be a refuge for native fish have long made this waterway a priority for us as an organization,” said Horton. “We see the way things can be repaired and improved, and with the help of local partners and awarded grants like this, we’ve been able to get to work.”

The project will occur in two phases. The first phase includes project design, permitting, collecting data on current conditions, stakeholder outreach and the formation of a formal design review team. Phase II includes finalizing project design, on-the-ground project implementation, and monitoring to ensure actions are having intended outcomes for the river and aquatic species.

“Restoration is not unlike renovating a house,” said Horton. “It’s important to survey the area, draw up plans and a design, and secure contractors. That’s what we’re doing now, and it couldn’t be done without the support of foundations like LP Brown.”

The Freshwater Trust

Founded in 1983, The Freshwater Trust accelerates the pace and scale of freshwater restoration through the use of science, technology and incentive-based solutions to restore rivers on a timeline that matters. The nonprofit uses quantified conservation to fix more rivers faster and in 2013, received the U.S. Water Prize for its innovation. For more information, please visit www.thefreshwatertrust.org.


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