Project Name

Middle Fork John Day River

Construction Management
Client / Agency
The Freshwater Trust
US Forest Service-Malheur National Forest, RBP Ranch, Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, The Nature Conervancy, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife
Galena, Oregon
2007 to 2011
Project Description
River Design Group, Inc. was retained by The Freshwater Trust to evaluate restoration opportunities on a four mile reach of the Middle Fork John Day River near Galena, Oregon. The project area encompassed land managed by the U.S. Forest Service-Malheur National Forest and the RBP Ranch. Historical land uses have altered the watershed hydrology and stability of the river corridor. Watershed-scale land use activities included logging, dredge and placer mining, railroad construction and grazing. Local changes to the river corridor included river straightening, riparian vegetation removal, and floodplain berm construction.

The primary goal of the project was to improve juvenile Chinook and steelhead survival by reducing summer water temperatures and increasing the distribution of cold water refugia and aquatic habitat. To achieve this goal, the restoration plan reactivated historical meanders to improve channel-floodplain connectivity. This involved reconstructing approximately 1.25 miles of channel using a variety of native material based structures including constructed riffles, large wood habitat structures, sod and shrub transplants, and vegetated soil lifts. With the reintroduction of pool and riffle sequences, available pool habitat increased by over 38% compared to pre-restoration conditions.
Back to Projects
Zoom View

Project Images

A disconnected oxbow meander in Reach 1 of the project area prior to construction.
The restoration plan reactivated the meander oxbow and historical floodplain surface. This photo was taken immediately following construction in October 2010.
The pre-restoation MFJD channel was confined to the highway embankment. The historical channel alignment is visible on the right side of the photo.
A temporary access road was constructed to shuttle equipment and materials into the project area. In this photo, the channel is being shaped to the appropriate design dimensions while the excavated fill is used to incrementally close off the existing channel.
The reconnected meander in Reach 2 of the project area. The old channel alignment is partially backfilled and converted to off-channel floodplain ponds and connected backwater wetlands.
Project partners work to remove fish from the river prior to diverting water into the new channel.
A 200 series excavator constructs a large wood habitat structure in Reach 2 of the project.
Revegetation crews collected over 7,000 live willow cuttings for use in streambank bioengineering structures. In this photo, laborers work in tandem with heavy equipment to build the new streambank using double 16" coir logs, growth media and cuttings.
Excavators work to build the main channel plug at the upstream end of the project area.
Jonathan Ferree, RDG's fluvial geomorphologist, contemplates the initial rough channel excavation while supervising construction in Reach 2 of the project area.