Brown Spring Creek Construction and Fish Passage
Fish Passage and Screening
Client / Agency
US Fish and Wildlife Service
2003 to 2005
Brown Spring Creek is a purely spring-fed tributrary to the Sycan River upstream from Drews Road near Beatty, Oregon. Headwatering at the base of the Sycan Tablelands, Brown Spring Creek provides cold, clean water to the Sycan River. The stream is believed to have provided historical spawning habitat and flood refugia for native fish. In the 1960s, the stream was bermed with four earthen fills to create a series of ponds for irrigation and livestock watering. The berms were fitted with vertical standpipes and control gates to manage pond elevations. The berms created complete fish passage barriers and the ponds warm the spring water in the summer. River Design Group, Inc. was retained by U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to prepare a fish passage and channel construction plan to permit fish access to the headwater springs. RDG’s design included both the channel construction and the rock step pool fishway. The assessment and engineering design included site surveys, hydraulic modeling, and construction plans. RDG prepared the permit application. The channel construction covered approximately 3,200 ft of stream plus 170 ft for the step pool fishway.RDG worked with the landowner and USFWS to complete the channel construction in 2004 and the step pool fishway in 2005. With project completion, fish passage was established after over 40 years of exclusion. A spawned-out Klamath redband trout was found in the constructed channel in spring 2006, the spring following the completion of the step pool. Subsequent fish sampling completed by USFWS has verified successful native fish colonization of the project area. The Brown Spring Creek fish passage project has demonstrated the benefits of restoring fish access in these important cold water spring-fed tributaries. RDG and USFWS are using Brown Spring Creek as a model for restoring fish passage in other nearby tributaries impacted by similar irrigation infrastructure.