Addressing Root Causes of Declines in Freshwater Health

Market: 
Outdoor
Organization: 
The Freshwater Trust, Portland, Oregon
Summary: 
With a mission to preserve and restore freshwater ecosystems, The Freshwater Trust is using water temperature data loggers as part of a project to restore habitat to benefit federally-listed fish in Rudio Creek, a tributary of the John Day River in Central Oregon.

About The Freshwater Trust

Freshwater TrustWith a mission to preserve and restore freshwater ecosystems, The Freshwater Trust works to restore habitat and stream flow throughout Oregon, using holistic, innovative, and replicable solutions that address the root causes of declines in freshwater health.

Project Background

Habitat RestorationThe Freshwater Trust and its partners seek to restore habitat to benefit federally-listed summer steelhead and spring Chinook on Rudio Creek, an ecologically-significant tributary of the North Fork John Day River in Central Oregon. This project is unique because the John Day River is the second-longest free-flowing river in the United States.

During the early and mid-1900s, Rudio Creek was straightened and channelized in order to create livestock pasture. This channelization, coupled with agricultural development of the floodplain throughout the mid-1900s, led to the loss of beaver dam complexes and streamside (riparian) hardwoods. The result is a high-energy system with reduced habitat diversity and cold-water storage, and stream temperatures as high as 80ºF during the late summer, creating significant impediments to fish survival and reproduction.

Project Goals

The overall goal of the Rudio Creek Ranch Habitat Restoration Project is to significantly improve habitat for summer steelhead and spring Chinook. The project aims to reach this goal by decreasing stream temperature, increasing pool habitat for native fish, adding habitat complexity, creating floodplain connectivity, and adding riparian vegetation. Project actions are to restore Rudio Creek to its historic channel alignment, construct large wood habitat structures, and restore riparian vegetation. The restored site will mimic pre-disturbance conditions to the greatest extent possible and will result in habitat conditions that will support healthier fish populations and a larger beaver population.

Taking a readingHOBO® Temperature Logger Use

As a result of the channelization, three natural springs on the west side of the valley are now only passively connected (through groundwater migration) to Rudio Creek, providing only a minimal influence on the creek's temperature. The project will create active connections between the springs and the creek, potentially providing three new sources of cool water while also contributing additional streamflow. The Freshwater Trust will place HOBO Water Temp Pro loggers above and below each spring confluence with Rudio Creek, helping to gather pre- and post-project stream temperature data. The loggers will be placed within a two-mile project area and will be attached to rebar embedded in the stream. After deployment, a HOBO Waterproof Shuttle will be used to easily download all of the data. The data will be collected at 30-minute intervals and downloaded approximately four times per year. HOBOware®software will be used as the primary import software, while Excel will be used to simultaneously chart streamflow and temperature data. This data will be used to evaluate the effectiveness of the project in directly connecting the springs to the creek and lowering its temperature. The temperature data collected from these loggers will be used to compare the current thermal regime of the channelized creek and post-implementation thermal regime. This analysis will allow The Freshwater Trust to evaluate the degree to which connecting the springs to the creek was effective in lowering the stream temperature. HOBO loggers were selected for the project because of their proven track record of delivering high-quality, reliable data, and because of the product's long-standing existence.