A project to restore Whychus Creek is back on track after COVID delayed it last year and the Grandview Fire put it on hold this summer.
The nearly 5,000 acre Grandview Fire was stopped, partially thanks to a contractor who was in the Whychus Creek Canyon doing restoration work.
They used their heavy equipment to cut a road for firefighters and brought water so fire crews could extend hoses down steep cliffs.
On Monday, the Deschutes Land Trust thanked Crestline Construction for their nearly week-long effort to stop the Grandview Fire and save a prime stretch of salmon and steelhead spawning habitat.
“We put that road in for them. We literally ran the hose from our truck to their truck and just kept them full of water,” said Nick Jacob, Crestline Construction project manager. ” I called on the radio and got another truck. Myself and another water truck, they call them tenders, were going back and forth keeping that thing full of water so they could keep the fire from making a run up the canyon.”
Work to make Whychus Creek more hospitable for salmon, steelhead and trout got back on track shortly after the Grandview Fire was contained.
“What we are inheriting is 100 years of the creek having been manipulated, straightened, levied, and bermed off to one side,” said Mathias Perle, Restoration Program Manager for the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council. “A big part of what we are doing is reactivating the entire valley that the creek used to occupy.”
Berms are being removed, the valley floor leveled and whole trees are being added to allow the creek to wander and create fish spawning and rearing habitat.
This fall, thousands of native trees, shrubs, wildflowers and grasses will be planted and seeded to provide stream shade, floodplain stability, and habitat for wildlife.
“We are going to do it in three distinct areas, sequentially. We’ll let each zone clear up before we activate another zone,” Perle said.
The current project is restoring about 1/2 mile of Whychus Creek.
It is the second of three restorations planned in the canyon near Rimrock Ranch north of Sisters.