“This has been a great partnership and the project has already shown results with improved water quality and Coho salmon making use of the improved habitat,” said Forest Service project manager Liz Berger. “Our working relationship with the watershed council has been a wonderful asset that has enabled us to not only work on the National Forest, but with private landowners as well.”
Illinois Valley Watershed Council coordinator Kevin O’Brien concurred and added, “We’ve been able to improve habitat for Threatened Coho salmon and other fish species, improve the function of the stream, and build our relationship with the Forest Service, private landowners, and other partners through this multi-year effort. It feels great to see this project come to a conclusion and have our vision validated by the fish we see using the main stem stream and side channels.”
Sucker Creek is one of the Forest’s highest priorities for watershed restoration. The project area had been impacted by past management activities and had a high potential to recover through implementation of this restoration project. In addition, the Sucker Creek watershed is an established stronghold for Threatened Coho salmon and other anadromous fish species. Over the past four summers nearly a mile of new main stem and side channel has been constructed. These efforts have reestablished a natural meander pattern to the affected stream reach, improved water quality, and created spawning and rearing habitat for salmon and steelhead through the creation of large pools, large wood structures, side channels, and other off-channel habitat features.
In addition, the project will help to reestablish a diverse riparian gallery forest through planting of native tree and shrub species across the floodplain and the adjacent upland area. Volunteers have been used for the planting efforts, contributing many hours of labor over the years to restore vegetation in the project area. Planted species include Port Orford cedar, Douglas fir, cottonwood, and native willow, amongst others.