McDowell Creek Restoration

Royal Terrace Falls, McDowell Creek

McDowell Creek is best known for it’s stunning waterfalls and park system, but in it’s lower reaches it runs through several miles of private land.  Lower McDowell Creek holds winter steelhead as well as resident trout species.

It is in these lower reaches of McDowell Creek where the South Santiam Watershed Council is active in providing fish habitat structures and restoring riparian areas to provide stream shade, improve water quality, and enhance wildlife habitat.  Work began in McDowell Creek in 2008 with the placement of in-stream habitat structures along a reach of McDowell Creek that was also experiencing moderate stream bank erosion.  These structures enhanced fish habitat while providing temporary bank stabilization.

To provide for future habitat needs and streambank stability, the SSWC assisted the landowner in planting a riparian buffer.  The riparian buffer consists of native trees and shrubs, that once mature, will provide stream shade and habitat for fish and wildlife.  The vegetative buffer will also provide bank stability through it’s root systems that will help reduce erosion and the contribution of fine sediments into the stream.

Partners for this project include the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB), the USDA Farm Services Agency, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the US Army Corps of Engineers.

For more information on this project, please see the McDowell Creek Final Report Photopoints.

This project was just the beginning of the work planned in McDowell Creek.  As a participant in the Willamette Model Watershed Program, the South Santiam Watershed Council has maintained a focus on working with private landowners in the McDowell Creek subbasin, and as of 2013 have been implementing additional restoration and conservation efforts throughout the watershed.

Bates_McDowell Before Photo 2010
McDowell Creek Bates Site: Pre-project 2010
McDowell Creek Bates Site: Native trees and shrubs ~ 2 years old in 2012.
McDowell Creek Swink Site: 2012, note willow and vegetation growth one year after project implementation.


McDowell Creek Swink Site-October, 2011.
McDowell Creek Swink Site-October, 2011.

As projects are implemented, updates will be provided here.  Click on photos below for larger images.

Mission: To involve local people in the enhancement and protection of the South Santiam watershed for the social and economic benefit of its landowners, managers, and users.