Salt Creek

Salt Creek is a small, spring-fed tributary to upper Little Butte Creek near the community of Lake Creek. The spring-fed nature of this stream means that it has suitably cool water over most of its length to support over-summering coho salmon and steelhead/rainbow trout. Such streams are very important nursery areas for these species, all of which spend at least one summer as juveniles in freshwater before migrating to the ocean. And Little Butte Creek is one of just a few really productive stream networks in the Rogue Basin for coho salmon, putting an even greater priority on streams within this watershed that provide cool temperatures all summer long.

The Rogue River Watershed Council is working on six Salt Creek barriers that impede fish movement. Four of these dams will be addressed by restorative work in 2020 and 2021. These four dams are all channel-spanning, gravel push-up dams that are constructed annually to divert water into canals that eventually carry water to flood-irrigated pastures. Each dam is built in May and removed in October using heavy equipment to create a pile of rock and dirt. These piles are usually further sealed with plastic sheeting. The downstream-most structure is located roughly 0.5-miles upstream of the confluence of Salt Creek and Little Butte Creek. This diversion is called Krumweide # 1 and is roughly five-feet high. This dam completely blocks adult fall Chinook salmon seeking spawning habitat in Salt Creek and stops juvenile coho salmon and steelhead / rainbow trout from migrating up Salt Creek to seek cooler water. Krumweide # 2 is 1.5 to 2-feet high and roughly 0.5-mile upstream of Krumweide # 1. The C-2 # 3 diversion dam is located at river mile four and is roughly four-feet tall while the C-2 # 4 diversion is located another mile upstream and is five-feet tall. These three diversions only block juvenile coho salmon and steelhead / rainbow trout as they try to find cooler water because Krumweide # 1 keeps fall Chinook salmon from reaching them. None of these dams markedly impact adult coho salmon or steelhead/rainbow trout movement because they are not in place during the times of the year that those fish are migrating.

Photo Credits: Rogue River Watershed Council

Lower Bridgepoint Push-Up Dam

Lower Bridgepoint Dam is 4 feet high, 13 feet long, and spans 115 feet across the entire width of Williams Creek. It sits at river mile 0.75. It is a pushup dam, typically constructed with gravel and cobble mined from adjacent gravel bars and riparian areas. The dam suppresses access to habitat for Chinook salmon, ESA- listed threatened coho salmon, steelhead/rainbow trout, cutthroat trout and ESA-listed species of concern Pacific lamprey.

Lower Bridgepoint Dam supplies water to two small family farms and four other water users. The current conveyance system has a low efficiency rate and high transmission losses. As a result, irrigators must divert more water so that irrigators near the end of the ditch can receive their full allotment. Additionally, the dam has caused accelerated erosion of streambanks at the Bureau of Land Management Provolt Seed Orchard.

In summer 2020, the Applegate Partnership & Watershed Council will implement a project to replace the pushup dam with a roughened channel to raise the height of the water to divert flows to a new fish screen and irrigation intake. Strategic sections of the existing irrigation open ditch will be replaced with buried pipe.

Photo Credits: Jason Jaacks/Resources Legacy Fund

Upper Phillips Dam

Upper Phillips Dam is a concrete dam with a non-functioning fish ladder on the Little Applegate River, a high priority, major tributary of the Applegate River.  In addition to the concrete structure, the water users use heavy equipment instream to create a 4-foot, channel-spanning seasonal pushup dam above the concrete structure. The push-up dam creates sufficient head for water to enter the headgate. The concrete dam creates a 5-foot jump during low flow conditions, inhibits adult passage, and creates a complete barrier to juvenile aquatic species. The channel spanning pushup dam poses its own barrier with a limited downstream jump pool. The concrete and push-up dams impede adult passage and completely block juvenile passage of anadromous fish to high-quality cold water rearing habitat.

In summer 2021, the Applegate Partnership & Watershed Council will implement a project to install a new headgate and fish screen; dedicate conserved water instream; and conserve water through piping 1.8 miles of irrigation ditch that serves 11 properties in Jackson County in the Rogue River Basin.

Photo Credits: Gregory Weber (left) Applegate Partnership & Watershed Council (right)

Wimer Siphon Dam

This project will develop engineered designs for dam removal at Wimer Siphon Dam, an abandoned concrete channel-spanning, fish passage barrier on Evans Creek in Jackson County. The dam is located at the May Ellis Park in the center of Wimer. The park’s purpose is to preserve wildlife and habitat while providing recreational opportunities to the community. Wimer Siphon Dam restricts adult passage to high quality spawning habitat under some flow conditions and completely blocks juvenile access to habitat designated as core cold water habitat and high intrinsic potential habitat. The species that will benefit from this project include: Chinook salmon, ESA- listed threatened  coho salmon, steelhead/rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and ESA-listed species of concern Pacific lamprey. The removal of Wimer Siphon Dam will complement other fish passage projects on Evans Creek including the removal of Fielder, Wimer and Upper Alphonso Dams and will continue the momentum of fish passage improvement in the watershed. This project includes developing engineered designs for dam removal, stream restoration, and riparian plantings. Project partners include the Applegate Partnership & Watershed Council, May Ellis Trust, Bureau of Land Management, Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife, Oregon Water Resources Department, Rogue Basin Partnership, and Middle Rogue Steelheaders.

Photo Credits: Jason Jaacks/Resources Legacy Fund

Sykes Creek Barriers

Sykes Creek, a tributary of Evans Creek, provides 1.7 miles of habitat for summer and winter steelhead/rainbow trout, and 2.7 miles for Cutthroat Trout. Currently, fish passage is limited by 7 barriers. These barriers limit adult passage to spawning habitat and juvenile access to critical cold-water habitat during low summer flows. The sheer number of barriers has fragmented the aquatic habitat within the reach and limits juvenile salmonid movements to find food, cover and cool water refugia in order to survive the summer during low flows.  This is currently an Applegate Partnership & Watershed Council project.

Photo Credits: Applegate Partnership & Watershed Council

Cheney Creek (McCann) Dam

McCann Dam is an abandoned concrete dam located on Cheney Creek, a tributary of the Applegate River.  This structure impedes fish passage to high quality spawning and rearing habitat for coho salmon, steelhead/rainbow trout, and Cutthroat trout habitat.  It is a complete juvenile barrier and an adult low flow barrier. This is an Applegate Partnership & Watershed Council project.

Photo Credits: Applegate Partnership & Watershed Council

McKee Dam

Project partners, led by the Applegate Partnership & Watershed Council, are working to improve fish passage, irrigation efficiency, and fish screening at McKee Dam (Newberry Dam), an active diversion structure and fish passage barrier at river mile 40 on the Applegate River in Jackson County. McKee Dam impedes adult passage to high quality spawning habitat and completely blocks juvenile access to habitat designated as core cold water habitat and high intrinsic potential habitat. Species impacted include: Chinook salmon, ESA-listed threatened  coho salmon, steelhead/rainbow trout and fluvial cutthroat trout, and ESA-listed species of concern Pacific lamprey. McKee Dam is listed on the ODFW Statewide Fish Passage Priority list in Group 2 for the state and #7 in the Rogue River Basin and is on the Rogue Basin Partnership Priority “Top 10 List” of fish passage projects. The fish screen on Swayne Ditch does not meet current standards and has a risk of entrainment and mortality for fish. Installation of flashboards during high flows in the spring is a hazard to irrigators. The current conveyance and irrigation system loses an estimated 35% of diverted water due to infiltration and evaporation. The project partners are working to identify a preferred alternative and complete preliminary designs that will restore full access to high quality fish habitat and provide adequate fish screening. The developed irrigation efficiency designs will allow more water to remain instream. Project partners include Cowhorn Vineyard & Garden, USFS, BLM, ODFW, OWRD, Jackson County SWCD, Rogue Basin Partnership, and Middle Rogue Steelheaders.

Photo Credits: Jason Jaacks/Resources Legacy Fund

White Ditch Push Up Dam

The 7.5’ tall White Ditch Push-up dam is at river mile 5 on Sucker Creek, a tributary of the Illinois River. It impairs passage to upstream spawning and rearing habitat and summer habitat refugia for juvenile salmonids. White Ditch is an open and unlined ditch with extensive water losses. The project, led by the Illinois Valley Soil & Water Conservation District, will improve fish passage, reduce irrigation ditch losses and improve irrigation efficiency.

Photo Credits: Illinois Valley Soil & Water Conservation District