Hood River Watershed Group
Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife (ODFW), Hood River SWCD, Private landowners
Odell Creek is a non-glacial tributary of the lower Hood River and has been identified by ODFW as important potential habitat for threatened winter steelhead, resident rainbow trout, and coastal cutthroat trout. The lower Hood River’s winter steelhead population is considered both a core and genetic legacy population by the Willamette / Lower Columbia Technical Recovery Team.
A 12’ tall dam and micro-hydroelectric plant were built in 1983 as a private power generation facility on Odell Creek just above its Hood River confluence. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission-exempt project was licensed by the Oregon Water Resources Department to divert up to 45 cubic feet per second and generate up to 0.2 megawatts per year. Though the facility included a fish ladder and screen, it did not meet current standards and blocked fish passage almost its entire length. Other negative impacts included increased stream temperatures, altered sediment transport processes, and depleted stream flow in the 880-foot bypass reach.
The Odell Creek Dam Removal and Stream Restoration project resulted in the removal of the hydropower dam. Odell Creek supports resident cutthroat trout, rainbow trout, and sculpin, and has the potential to support Pacific lamprey and ESA-listed steelhead. The project opened up approximately 5 miles of upstream spawning or rearing habitat. Once the dam was removed, the stream channel was restored, which included diverting the stream through a bypass pipe during the 3-month construction period and removing over 2,500 cubic yards (~210 dump truck loads) of sediment that had accumulated behind the dam. Once the new channel area was excavated, large boulders and cobbles were placed to create the backbone of the new channel, and smaller cobbles, gravel, and sand were placed on top to form a natural streambed. Large wood was placed along the edge of the channel to improve fish habitat and protect 750 newly planted trees and shrubs from high streamflows. Lastly, a concrete vault with a fish screen was installed at the edge of the channel to replace the former irrigation diversion provided by the dam.
Top photo: Odell Creek Dam
Photo 2: Dam removal
Photo 3: Channel construction
Bottom photo: Dam removed; channel finished
For complete reports on this and other OWEB projects, please search OWEB's Grant Management System (OGMS).