The South Santiam watershed is renowned for its exceptional forests, abundant fish and wildlife, and clean drinking water for the communities of Sweet Home, Lebanon, and Albany.
As the population of Willamette Valley has grown, so too has the population within the South Santiam watershed. With growth comes change, including the construction of flood-control dams, the removal of vegetation on river banks, and altering stream channels. In order to restore the important functions that the watershed provides, the South Santiam Watershed Council partners with landowners and managers to replant stream banks with native vegetation, ensure passage to spawning grounds for migratory fish, and provide the types of healthy, high-quality habitat that benefit fish and wildlife throughout the watershed.
Upper South Santiam Watershed Projects
The upper South Santiam watershed is renowned for its lush conifer and hardwood forests and runs of native winter steelhead and spring Chinook salmon. While habitat has been fragmented by Green Peter and Foster Dams, native adult salmon and steelhead are trapped and hauled around Foster Reservoir and released into the upper South Santiam River, where they complete their life cycles by spawning new generations of fish.
The water quality is generally good in the upper South Santiam watershed, but creating better habitat conditions for adult and juvenile salmon and steelhead is a high priority for us. We have partnered with the Sweet Home Ranger District and Cascade Timber Consulting (CTC) to address habitat needs in the upper watershed by adding large wood structures into important spawning streams. These structures trap spawning gravels, allow flowing water to carve pools in the stream bed, and provide cover for juvenile fish during the summer months and during high winter flows.
The following projects benefit native winter steelhead and Chinook salmon.
Upper South Santiam Watershed project details
Lower South Santiam Watershed Projects
The lower South Santiam watershed is comprised of rich agricultural land with conifer forests in the uplands. It is home to the rural communities of Sweet Home, Lebanon, Waterloo, and Scio.
The lower watershed provides drinking water to the municipalities of Lebanon and Albany, making this a priority area for maintaining high water quality. We can help preserve clean, cool water by planting stream-side vegetation buffers with native plants and trees. These buffers shade the water and filter out run-off pollutants. Excluding livestock from the streams is also important, and we assist landowners with finding funding sources for these projects.
Improved water quality also benefits the Chinook Salmon, winter steelhead, and other native fish that call the South Santiam home. Other projects in the lower watershed include in-stream habitat enhancement and ensuring fish passage to upstream reaches.
Lower South Santiam Watershed project details
Lower South Santiam Watershed small-grant projects
Through the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board's (OWEB) small grants program, the council secured funding for several local projects.
Project sites were on both public and private lands and included:
- Had Irvine Park in Lebanon
- Riverview Park in Lebanon
- Crabtree Creek
- Brown Creek (tributary to McDowell Creek)
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