Whychus Creek restoration: construction complete

Sep 08, 2016
It's hard to believe, but the active construction phase of creek restoration at the Preserve is done. What was once a straight creek and dried out meadow is now a multi-channeled creek with the beginning of much better and more complex habitat for fish and wildlife.

Water has returned to our meadow at Whychus Canyon Preserve. Photo: Jay Mather.
Water has returned to our meadow at Whychus Canyon Preserve. Photo: Jay Mather.
The construction phase of the Whychus Creek restoration at Whychus Canyon Preserve is now complete!

It's hard to believe but the active construction phase of creek restoration at the Preserve is done. Bulldozers and diggers started on August 1st and worked throughout the month to change the face of the northernmost part of the Preserve. What was once a straight creek and dry meadow is now a multi-channeled creek with much better and more complex habitat for fish and wildlife. 

Watch these aerial videos to see the Preserve before restoration and mid-way through. Then, watch our highlight slideshow to see the following changes: 

  • A meadow full of water! Up to three feet of soil was removed from one of the large open meadows at the Preserve to bring the ground level down to the creek level. Log jams made of ~800 whole trees were built on top of the newly leveled meadow to route water and create channels. Then, other logs were distributed to slow creek waters. Finally, the full flow of Whychus Creek was diverted into the meadow. This was the first time in 50+ years water has been in our meadow!! Watch this video and revel in the sweet sound of WATER!
  • A cottonwood/pine grove full of water! Our beautiful cottonwood/pine grove at the Preserve now has water meandering through it. Construction work was less dramatic in this section, as crews mostly removed old berms and reconnected old channels allowing the creek to return to its historic path.
  • A filled in old creek channel! To return water to the meadow and tree groves, crews had to block the old straight Whychus Creek channel. First, a temporary coffer dam was built to divert the flow into new channels. Then, volunteers and staff from various wildlife agencies spent two full days rescuing fish and moving them to a new home. Finally, crews dumped huge amounts of soil and rocks into the old channel to block it off.

    If slideshow does not appear below, please click here. (Be sure to click "Show Info" in the upper right corner to see captions).


With construction complete, we turn our sights to planting. More than ~60,000 native plants will be put in the ground this fall in and around the newly restored creek. We have a work party scheduled for October 8th if you'd like to join us!

Then, we will wait and watch nature take over. While the creek and its surrounding meadows look raw now, we are confident that they will recover. When we restored Camp Polk Meadow in 2009 it looked much the same way. Now, it has rebounded dramatically and is providing outstanding habitat for fish and wildlife in the process. Learn more.

Learn more about the restoration: