Photo: Land Trust.

Mussel Rescue at Ochoco Preserve and Restoration Work Continues

Jun 05, 2024 by Jana Hemphill
The second phase of the major Ochoco Preserve Project is moving forward with a mussel rescue, reshaping along the Crooked River, and woody debris placement.

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The second phase of the major Ochoco Preserve Project is moving forward. This year we are focusing on creating new main channels and side channels along Ochoco Creek and the Crooked River, creating new floodplains, building a fish acclimation pond to help accustom salmon and steelhead to Ochoco Creek, and establishing locations for trails and educational sites.

Mussel rescue: This past month, the Land Trust partnered with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and Xerces Society on a mussel rescue. Freshwater mussels are an incredible benefit to our creeks and rivers because they keep our water clean by taking impurities out of the water—even removing pharmaceuticals and E.coli! In addition, they are an important part of a waterway's habitat and food web.

Over two days, more than 1,800 freshwater mussels from the Crooked River and Ochoco Creek were collected and relocated to a different part of the river/creek (that isn't under restoration work this summer!). The majority were floater mussels, which are more tolerant of warmer temperatures and sediment than most other mussels in the Pacific Northwest. More than 20 western ridged mussels were collected as well. The western ridged mussel is currently under consideration for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

Map: Deb Quinlan.
Map: Deb Quinlan.

Crooked River realignment: Crews are currently building the new Crooked River configuration, including adding side channels and floodplain areas. Some newly created side channels have already begun to fill with water, as the groundwater is so close to the surface. Most of this realignment work is happening in the northern corner of the Preserve.

Photo: Land Trust.
Photo: Land Trust.
Adding woody debris: More than 2,500 juniper and ponderosa pine trees have been harvested through partnering with nearby landowners. These trees have been transported to Ochoco Preserve and are currently being placed throughout the newly created Crooked River alignment. This is in preparation for building more than 60 wood structures. Learn more about the importance of woody debris.

What's next? The creation of the new alignment of Ochoco Creek will occur later this summer. In addition, the creation of floodplain areas, hills and sunken areas, side channels, and backwater coves will occur over the next two months. Stay tuned for more as the project continues to evolve!



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