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New culvert brings "surprising" number of fish to stream
07/12/2007
News media contact: Monte Turner, OWEB, 503-986-0195
Janelle St. Pierre, Scappoose Bay Watershed Council, 503-397-7904
 
 
Revenues from salmon license plates contribute $62,700
 
This summer, a surprising number of cutthroat trout and winter steelhead have been seen passing through a large culvert installed one year ago in place of an undersized culvert that was blocking fish passage in a tributary of Raymond Creek.
 
“This project will improve fish passage for both adult and juvenile steelhead, Coho, lamprey, and cutthroat trout and provide better access to spawning and rearing habitat in the Scappoose basin,” said Danette Ehlers, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife  assistant district fish biologist. “We were pleasantly surprised at the number and diversity of native fish and wildlife species in such a small stream.”
 
Raymond Creek is one of the most productive salmon creeks in the Willamette River Basin.  Prior to the replacement project, Scappoose Bay Watershed Council staff members were astounded to discover 13 juvenile Coho salmon stuck in a small pool below the original culvert in this unnamed tributary—a stream only two feet wide.  This small section of creek was also home to a dozen Pacific giant salamanders. 
 
The placement and size of the old culvert resulted in a significant drop that fish were unable to pass.  In addition, the stream had been moved out of its original channel, making two 90-degree bends to pass under a country road.
 
The watershed council, the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB), ODFW, and other partners reset the channel and put in a large culvert measuring 12 feet in diameter.  They filled the culvert with rocks of various sizes in order to provide a natural streambed and bring the stream level up to grade. 
 
The project was completed in July and August 2006.  After only two rain events that fall, the streambed reached the surface of the culvert, allowing fish to pass through easily.    
 
In the fall of 2006, community volunteers helped plant vegetation on the banks of the creek.  The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) provided native trees and shrubs through a partnership with a group of watershed councils. 
 
Since the landowner is a volunteer with the Scappoose Bay Watershed Council, project partners know that the project site will be maintained and upstream habitat will remain available. 
 
Janelle St. Pierre, coordinator of the Scappoose Bay Watershed Council, knows the value of strong partnerships.  “It’s amazing the amount of work that can get done with enthusiastic landowners, a good equipment operator, dedicated volunteers, and support from an OWEB grant,” she said.  The $62,700 OWEB grant for this project came from salmon license plate funds.
 
The project carried a total cost of approximately $109,500.  Its success depended on funding from multiple sources and the dedication of all project partners—Scappoose Bay Watershed Council, OWEB, ODFW, BLM, Columbia County, landowners, and volunteers, St. Pierre said.
 
Salmon license plate purchasers pay an extra $30 every two years above regular passenger vehicle registration fees.  Half the fee goes directly to fix road-related impacts to salmon and trout streams by improving water quality, fish habitat, and fish passage through OWEB grants.  The Oregon Parks and Recreation Department invests the other half in salmon habitat and related projects in state parks.
 
Since the beginning of the salmon license plate program in 1997, OWEB and OPRD have each received more than $2.5 million.  For more information about salmon plates and instructions for purchasing, call OWEB at 503-986-0178 or visit www.salmonplate.org. 
 

Raymond Creek CulvertAfter installation of a 12-foot-wide culvert last year on an unnamed tributary of Raymond Creek, project partners this summer have spotted a surprising number of fish passing through. (Photo courtesy Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board)