Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation
Restored floodplain processes and instream habitats for native fish
Since the 1850s, overgrazing, timber harvesting, and development from Euro-American settlers affected the entire watershed. Specifically, the development of the Union Pacific Railroad and construction of levees around Meacham Creek negatively impacted fish habitat by separating the creek from its natural floodplain.
Restoration efforts began in the late 1980s and early 1990s to stabilize the channel and connect flow between Meacham Creek and the mainstem Umatilla River. A comprehensive approach began with the Meacham Creek Analysis and Action Plan and robust action began in the 2000s. Since 2006, CTUIR has restored floodplain processes over 6.6 contiguous miles of stream, including:
• Removing or modifying 25 high-priority levees connecting stream channel access to the floodplain,
• Placing 3,700 pieces of large wood by helicopter and heavy equipment to improve channel complexity, and spawning and rearing habitat,
• Planting creekside vegetation and fencing key areas to prevent animal browsing,
• Realigning and connecting 2.65 miles of new primary channel and 2.79 miles of off-channel and side-channel habitat, and
• Enhancing an additional 3.3 acres of wetland in the floodplain.
Because of restoration, groundwater levels have increased and surface temperatures decreased. Native species are returning, including Beaver and lamprey. Trees, shrubs and water-loving plants flourish in the newly reconnected floodplain, and quality salmon spawning and rearing habitat is newly available.
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