By CRAIG REED
ROSEBURG, Ore. 3/02– Fish and farms can co-exist. Two projects
recently completed in Douglas County in Southern Oregon are
A small concrete dam
on South Myrtle Creek east of Myrtle Creek was removed and seven
property owners below the dam now have pumps and pipe systems for
irrigation, instead of less efficient leaky ditches and flood
irrigation. The project was completed in the spring of 2001 and
mature adult chinook salmon were seen farther up the creek last
fall. Officials say the dam removal opened up 10 more miles of
“If you don’t
take care of the creek and the fish go downhill, it’s only a
matter of time before a mandate comes up the creek telling you
what to do because the fish are dying off,” rancher Mike
Danielle said. “If the creek goes bad, it makes the property go
bad and it loses value.”
Danielle was hired as
the project manager because he was on site daily. The dam was
located 12 miles up the creek, which is a tributary of the South
On Clover Creek east
of Roseburg, four miles of the waterway was fenced. Hard rock
crossings and a culvert were installed for use by livestock and
vehicles. The creek’s bank and buffer strip were planted with
alders, ash, maples, cedars, pines, fir and oak.
That work, phase one
of the project, was completed last summer. Phase two will follow
this summer involving placing logs to create pools, replacing a
culvert that is a fish barrier and planting another 8,000
seedlings. Work to improve the fish habitat on the next two miles
downstream is also planned.
Five property owners
are affected by the project.
“We are stewards of
the land,” said rancher and project manager George Sandberg. The
main consideration was to stabilize the banks and slow the erosion
process. The next step is to enhance the fishery.
“It’ll take time
for the brush and trees to stabilize the ground, five to 10 years,
and then we’re hoping fish will come farther upstream.”
The Umpqua Basin
Watershed Council of Roseburg coordinated the complete funding for
these two projects, and for many others in the county.
These projects also
have received funding from the annual Umpqua Fishery Enhancement
Derby, an event involving professional river fishing guides and
their anglers. Project applications are accepted by a derby
committee which determines where to use the funds. In the
derby’s 10 years, it has donated over $350,000 to fish
enhancement projects in Douglas County.
Dave Loomis, an
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist and a
member of the derby committee, said that cooperative fencing
agreements have been a popular project in the last five years.
Other projects have involved streambank protection, erosion
control, plantings and off-channel watering for livestock,
including ponds, wells and springs.
projects, it’s not only acquiring and matching funds, but also a
blending of ideas and expertise to come up with a good overall
management plan for private land,” Loomis said. “A fun part of
these projects is meshing the goals of private landowners with the
fish and wildlife management goals. It’s just a matter of coming
together for discussions over a kitchen table.
More and more
landowners are wanting to be good stewards of the land and more
and more programs are available to provide technical advice and
funds to improve overall health of private land in Oregon, he
agriculture can mix,” Bob Kinyon, the Umpqua Basin Watershed
Council coordinator, said. “If there’s landowner resistance,
we don’t force them because we have enough work to do with the
people who are interested. We’re getting more calls and we can
help with the funding on these projects.”
South Myrtle Creek
Mike Danielle has lived on his ranch along South Myrtle Creek
for 11 years. He never liked being the water regulator for six
other property owners who irrigated using water backed up by a
“There were constant problems with the neighbors getting
enough water,” Danielle said. “I was getting most of the
aggravation and very little benefit.”
So when Douglas County watermaster Dave Williams approached
Danielle about a change, the landowner was more than eager to
listen. He then encouraged his neighbors to sign up to switch to a
“It was a hard sell because it had been free water,” he
said. Pumping has the added expense of electricity and
But down the road, regulation would force it, because the dam
was a fish barrier. “And then there might be no money
available,” Danielle said.
Property owners were required to provide a 10 percent cost
share, in cash, labor or equipment.
Danielle praised government people involved with the project.
For the most part, they “ didn’t come here with the attitude
of we’re going to do this to you. They said we can make this
work for both you and the fish.”
Clover Creek Project
Cattle and sheep pastures belonging to five landowners border
the 4 miles of Clover Creek that have been enhanced in the last
The project was put together in 1998 when $50,000 from the
Valdez oil spill became available and had to be allocated in a
month. The Umpqua Basin Watershed Council alerted Clover Creek
Most were receptive, said project manager George Sandberg.
“This was going to benefit the landowners, livestock
production and the creek.”
The project included developing springs and installing pipe
systems to troughs providing livestock drinking opportunities away
from the creek.