Middle Fork John Day River
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
2007 to 2011
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.