Clatsop State Forest stream restoration project improves habitat for threatened fish species


ASTORIA – The Oregon Department of Forestry and its non-profit partners recently completed a restoration project in the Mill Creek basin that will improve habitat for steelhead and salmon.

With support and funding from partners such as the North Coast Watershed Association, the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board and Pacific Power’s Blue Sky Fund, the project included removing old forest roads and culverts that made it more difficult for fish to move upstream in the Mill Creek basin to spawn. The Mill Creek basin is in the Clatsop State Forest, which is managed by ODF.

Over time, the area will come to resemble its natural state, providing healthier habitat for aquatic life – some of which, such as the Lower Columbia Coho and the Columbia River chum, are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act.

The North Coast Watershed Association, a non-profit dedicated to watershed improvements in Clatsop County, raised the funding and provided overall project management for the Mill Creek restoration.

For decades, ODF has surveyed streams within state forests to find and remove blockages and improve fish passage. The Mill Creek basin is the only basin in the Clatsop where ODF has jurisdiction of all fish streams, so this represented a unique opportunity to make a major impact on state land.

“The Mill Creek basin restoration project stood out as the right thing to do for this part of the Clatsop State Forest,” ODF Marketing Unit Forester John Tillotson said. “It removed a road and culverts that were no longer needed, which will provide more opportunities for fish to move upstream and spawn in the basin.”

“Over a mile and a half of Mill Creek is now free-flowing and rehabilitated with native plants ensuring that fish stocks and other wildlife are supported in their natural environment,” said Jane Harris, the executive director of the North Coast Watershed Association.” The Oregon Department of Forestry was an excellent partner, finishing this restoration project on time and under budget.”

Oregon’s state forests are actively managed to provide a suite of economic, environmental and social benefits. A timber sale provided funding for ODF’s contributions to the project.

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