If you’ve ever driven through the Santiam Canyon, you’ve probably seen Stout Creek. It runs pretty close to State Highway 22 for a couple of miles before it joins the North Santiam near Mehama. On the other hand, you might have missed it.
It isn’t very big, the entire watershed is about eleven and a half square miles in area. But it’s important. Chinook salmon and steelhead use Stout Creek.
It seems our modern land uses ran down the neighborhood — from a fish’s point of view. Land practices like:
- timber harvest
- road building
- agriculture and
change and simplify fish habitat in the creek through such things as loss of the riparian (streamside) forests.
You see, loosing the shade of riparian forests leads to high water temperatures during the summer months. And dang, fish need to keep cool. Loosing forests opens the way for the invasive or noxious weeds that squeeze out the native vegetation so many different animals depend on. And finally, when there aren’t any trees they can’t fall into the creek. When trees can’t fall into the creek, they can’t get together to jam. And log jams, well, they’re just great if you’re a fish.
Like I said, we can’t be certain of this, because really no one was counting fish or trees or taking the creek’s temperature. Or if the were, they didn’t write it down.
View Stout Creek Habitat Restoration in a larger map