Four Aquatic Restoration Projects Scheduled for the La Grande Ranger District

By on Tuesday, September 19th, 2023 in More Top Stories Northeastern Oregon News

LA GRANDE – (Information from the Wallowa Whitman National Forest) The La Grande Ranger District of the Wallowa Whitman National Forest has scheduled four aquatic removal projects to begin next summer. These projects are the replacement of a collapsed wooden bridge over East Sheep Creek (National Forest System Road (NFSR) 5182-100) and the replacement of the Meadow Creek Arch (NFSR 210000), Indian Creek Arch (NFSR 6205050) and the Little Catherine Creek Culvert (NFSR 2306000). All four structures were identified as obstacles to local fish habitats.

The Description of the Sheep Creek Bridge Project is as follows:


A hand crew will remove the wooden ladder bridge over East Sheep Creek and restore the disturbed area using non-mechanized tools by: • Removing sediment and rock from on top of the wood bridge structure and placing it on the roadbed on either side of the crossing at least 50 feet from East Sheep Creek.  

  • Creating diagonal berms across the road using removed soil and rock to shunt overland flow onto the forest floor before it can reach East Sheep Creek 
  • Scattering wooden bridge pieces on the roadway beyond the berms.  
  • Laying back roadfill to 1:1.5 ratio to minimize slope failure into creek. 
  • Covering 100% of disturbed roadfill with straw or forest duff after project completion.  


Instream work window July 1st – 31st  


Remove as much as the sediment and rock from on top of the bridge structure as possible before pulling the bridge/wooden pieces apart to  minimize clumps falling into East Sheep Creek. Follow additional PDCs outlined in the Aquatic Restoration EA, as applicable.”

The description of the culvert projects are also as follows:


The current Meadow Creek arch is undersized with concrete sills. Replacing it would fully open the 23.6 miles of quality fish habitat upstream for Chinook and steelhead salmon. Replacing the current undersized Indian Creek arch will fully open 18.1 miles of habitat for steelhead and bull trout, and replacing the  current undersized Little Catherine Creek culvert will fully open 21.9 miles of habitat for steelhead.  

The Meadow Creek and Little Catherine Creek structures will be replaced with 50-ft slab bridges, and the Indian Creek structure will be replaced with a 26-ft wide open-bottom arch. All streams through the structures will be constructed using Stream Simulation design, which simulates the creek bottom up-and downstream of the crossing and allows for all aquatic organism passage. 


New structures conform to United States Forest Service National Technology and Development Program’s publication “Stream Simulation: An Ecological Approach to Providing Passage for Aquatic Organisms at Road-Stream Crossings” (USDA, 2008). Aquatic Restoration Biological Opinion (ARBO) II, the regional regulatory consultation programmatic agreement for aquatic restoration actions, specifies that the replacement structure design width be 1.3 times the bankfull width, and the design company adhered to this specification. 


Instream Work 

Meadow Creek: July 1, 2024 – July 31, 2024 

Indian Creek: July 1, 2024 – October 15, 2024 

Little Catherine Creek: July 1, 2024 – August 15, 2024 


All relevant mitigations found in the Aquatic Regional EA and additional measures described in the compliance form will be followed.”

Questions can be directed to the La Grande Ranger District at 541-962-8588.