Kelley Creek Dam Removal in Progress! Part I.

Restoration of fish passage in the Kelley Creek sub-watershed continues as we have removed a dam that has been a complete passage barrier for 30 years. Built in 1989, this dam stood nearly 6′ tall and spanned the full creek channel; its purpose to provide water to a diversion that flowed into an off-line pond. This has been a top priority restoration project for years, but it wasn’t until 2017 when we finally received funding for preliminary engineering that the project began in earnest. This seed money came from a grant from the East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District. Initially, we looked at various alternatives to design fish passage over the dam but when options were presented to the landowner the response was “why don’t you take the dam out?”.

This does not happen every day. From that point the project focus was to provide the landowner with an alternate source of water for the pond and stabilization techniques to maintain instream habitat after the removal of the dam. Our engineering team at Waterways Consulting designed a two-pronged approach to accomplish these goals: first, transfer the Point Of Diversion from gravity pipe to pump station, and second build and engineered stream bed in the area that would be de-stabilized by removing the dam. The pump station would be located downstream of the dam, adjacent to the pond and our design both creates and focuses flows to maintain the pool where the pump intake sits. Upstream, following dam removal we built an engineered streambed to prevent side-cutting, or down-cutting erosion to ensure safe fish passage for the long term. This project is funded by a regional grant from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board as part of the Clackamas Focused Investment Partnership and a grant awarded by American Rivers with funding from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation.

Stay tuned for our next update as the site recovers, and be sure to check out our Facebook page and YouTube ( for videos of the action!

Kelley Creek Dam, January of 2020
Dam removal underway!
Slowly breaking down the dam as part of our lamprey-friendly draw down
Water slowly draining from above the dam.
Kelley Creek seeks its channel as the drawdown continues, slowly exposing the mudflats and allowing for gradual exposure to stimulate lamprey to emerge from the mud making capture for relocation easier.
Downstream of the dam an engineered riffle was built to slightly raise the streambed and water surface elevations to maintain the pump intake pool
Looking straight down at the pump station and screened intake centered in the newly created pool
Grahm Trask, of Trask Design Build, washes fine sediment into the engineered streambed just upstream of the former dam

Looking upstream at Kelley Creek as it meets its restored channel and flows freely for the first time in 30 years!

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