Bear Branch Creek Restoration

Accomplishments at a glance...

Restoration on this project site began in 2011 on Bear Branch Creek. This sign can be seen from Stayton Scio Road when crossing over Bear Branch.

Watershed Quick Facts

Size of land area that drains into Bear Branch Creek – 13 square miles

Length of Bear Branch Creek – 10 miles

Range of elevation – 348-1263ft

How land in the Bear Branch Creek Watershed is used – The land area surround Bear Branch Creek is used by a variety of diverse water users, including rangeland and cropland agriculture, rural residential landowners, forestry, and urban landowners.

Bear Branch Creek Symposium held April 13, 2019 in Stayton, Oregon

The NSWC held a 2019 Bear Branch Creek Symposium on Saturday, April 13, 2019 at the Stayton Community Center.

Rebecca McCoun, NSWC Executive Director provided a brief overview of the watershed council and the 10  year Model Watershed initiative. Rebecca shared with the participating Bear Branch landowners the results of the outreach and restoration activities that have occurred.

Steve Smith, Fish and Wildlife Contracted Project Manager provided drone footage of the restoration work completed on the Sandner Bear Branch Instream, Riparian, Oak and Wet Prairie Restoration project.

Jan Irene Miller, NSWC Board Member followed the presentations with asking landowners what is was they cared about most in their watershed? What would they like to see the watershed council do in the Bear Branch over the next 3 to 5 years. Landowners filled out response forms.

Bear Branch Subbasin Information

The North Santiam Watershed Council has selected Bear Branch Creek as a priority sub-basin for restoration and enhancement. Bear Branch Creek is an important tributary of the North Santiam River, entering the mainstem just below the town of Stayton. Approximately 13 square miles of land, primarily agricultural and rural residential, make up the land area that drains into Bear Branch Creek.

In 2009, Bear Branch Creek was selected to be a part of the Willamette Model Watershed Program, a regional program designed to improve watershed health. Since 2009, four landowners have partnered with the Council to restore approximately 26 acres of native vegetation on Bear Branch Creek. Restoration on Bear Branch Creek has included clearing of invasive species, planting of native trees and shrubs, and a robust maintenance system to ensure that plants can be “free to grow.” Through continued maintenance, the Council hopes to create a mature riparian buffer of native trees and shrubs that can provide shade and habitat for fish and wildlife habitat. Root systems of native plant species also provide some stability to streambanks and filter water entering the system through the subsurface.

Restoration and conservation efforts along the Bear Branch Creek tributary to the North Santiam River are part of a larger regional initiative to improve water quality. Restoration efforts in Bear Branch Creek are ongoing. The North Santiam Watershed Councils hopes to continue to partner with landowners in the Bear Branch Creek watershed on restoration projects.

What kinds of fish use Bear Branch Creek?

Over the last ten years, fish surveys conducted by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife have shown the presence of a number of different species, including cutthroat trout, summer steelhead, dace, redside shiner, peamouth, sculpin, brook lamprey, northern pikeminnow, and three-spine stickleback. These studies also indicated that Bear Branch Creek offers valuable habitat for native fish, including Upper Willamette winter steelhead. Bear Branch Creek has 3.6 stream miles of potential rearing/migration habitat for spring Chinook and 3.9 stream miles of potential rearing/migration habitat for winter steelhead.

Click here for the most recent Bear Branch Creek Watershed Newsletter!