Stream Restoration Project Transforms Habitat Almost Overnight!

Before photo below:

Lower Johnson Creek, looking towards Highway 224E before restoration.

After photos below:

Same viewpoint as above, this photo shows the restoration work completed in late July, 2020. Three of the seven log jams can be seen here, note that the flows are starting to focus a bit as water moves past and through the structures.

Last July we completed an instream restoration project in the lower portion of Johnson Creek near Milwaukie in partnership with the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board on land owned by the Oregon Department of Transportation. As the water is receding this spring we are seeing rather impressive, and dare I say dramatic results following an uneventful winter. This reach of Johnson Creek was essentially a straight, shallow stretch of creek without any pools, logs or other habitat diversity.

Our project sought to provide this type of habitat diversity for the primary purpose of salmon rearing and resting habitat. This reach of creek also has several cold water inputs, where former tributary streams were piped and paved over, but still flow into Johnson Creek. The combination of the colder water with pools and log structures for cover would make excellent salmon habitat! A secondary function of these log structures and pools is to help the creek with natural flow processes such as low flow channel formation, creating and maintaining pool habitat, buffering flow velocities during periods of runoff and sediment accumulation. Given the shape this reach of creek was in before our project, we were cautiously optimistic of the potential results.

Similar view as above, taken April 7, 2021. Note the log structures not only add habitat themselves but also created a defined channel pathway, or thawleg. During high water these logs serve to break up and buffer water velocities on the edge and slow the water as it flows over and past them. As a result there is now a new gravel bar on the East side of the creek!
This photo shows the before restoration appearance of the middle section of the project, looking downstream at the Highway 99S cloverleaf.
Similar view to above, taken April 6th 2021 shows the new channel much more defined and the new gravel bar deposited as a result of the log structure in the center!
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