Creek Restoration

The upper two thirds of Fox Creek Canyon has been degraded by open-range cattle grazing (see here), and we’re working to restore it. We’ve collaborated with the adjoining Daybreak Ranch and U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and we’ve received help from a number of agencies to plan and fund a fencing and restoration project that meets everyone’s needs. The restoration sets the stage for reintroduction of a beaver into the canyon (see here).

The two photos below illustrate the restoration progress in the mid-canyon. The first photo was taken in January, 2002, and shows a lot of trampling and dung from the trespass cattle. The second photo was taken December, 2004, and shows grasses and forbs closely surrounding the creek, and the growth of cuttings planted in March, 2003. These plants produce a deeper and narrower creek bed to improve water temperatures, reduce sedimentation and perform filtering.

We have received a CRP contract along with advice, grants and support from a number of other groups and agencies. CRP stands for Conservation Reserve Program, and it’s administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Services Agency. The U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) provides design work for the CRP. They’ve been a big help.

Also of help has been the Powder Basin Watershed Council, a local group of concerned citizens. They helped us obtain a successful supplemental grant from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) to install fencing not covered in the CRP. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODF&W) has provided important design advice and donated needed additional fencing, and the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service provided a major supplemental grant. The Burnt River Soil and Water Conservation District has also provided guidance and support.

The work commenced in March, 2003, with the planting of 4,000 cuttings and seedlings, including willow, red-osier dogwood, cottonwood, and mock orange, ponderosa pine, aspen, plum, walnut, and golden current. In mid-year, the planting was followed by the installation of seven miles of fencing to exclude trespass cattle grazing. In the fall, sixteen acres were seeded with native grasses. Beaver will be reintroduced, once there is sufficient habitat.

Jeff Henes of Elkhorn Wood Products of Baker City is the contractor for this work, and he has done a great job . Here’s a photo of Jeff at work in March, 2003, with a quiver of prime cuttings. Note the evidence of cattle trampling adjacent to the creek. The photo on the right shows Jeremiah Evans tying in a deadman during fence construction in September, 2003.

It appears that we will have a 70%-80% survival rate of the plantings, so cattle will be replaced by beaver in the foreseeable future.

Fox Creek Farm
34811 Snake River Rd.
Huntington, OR 97907
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