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.

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