Elk Creek Watershed Information Gap Assessment /Stream and Fish Surveys
Douglas County, OR
Elk Creek, an important tributary to the Umpqua River, provides habitat for endangered coho salmon. Cascade is assisting the Elk Creek Watershed Council in assessing watershed conditions and prioritizing restoration projects.
As the first phase of this effort, Cascade reviewed watershed information and identified data gaps that need be addressed to better understand watershed conditions and target restoration opportunities. The key information gaps include very little current information on fish populations, limited data characterizing stream habitat quality, and almost no data on tributary water temperature patterns. To address these data needs, Cascade developed a stream inventory protocol designed to comprehensively assess juvenile coho salmon abundance and distribution, stream and riparian habitat quality, and water temperatures.
In 2015 Cascade tested and refined the new stream inventory protocol. Over the 2015-2016 field seasons, stream inventories were completed for more than 20 miles of tributary habitat. The evaluation of coho distribution and numbers, stream habitat quality, and water temperature patterns is helping the Elk Creek Watershed Council identify stream and riparian characteristics that are limiting coho populations. The Council, with Cascade’s assistance, is also using the new information to identify, prioritize, and implement site-specific restoration actions designed to address the limiting factors.