The Moose Creek Steelhead Habitat Improvement Project is a joint effort between the South Santiam Watershed Council and the U.S. Forest Service, Sweet Home Ranger District to enhance steelhead spawning and rearing habitat in this upper South Santiam watershed stream. Very little quality spawning and rearing habitat is available for winter steelhead in the South Santiam watershed, and Moose Creek is one of the last strongholds for these native fish in the basin.
While steelhead utilize Moose Creek, it was lacking adequate spawning gravels and in-stream habitat structures. Beginning in 2008, the project partners placed over 60 full length trees and 40 cut logs into 2.5 miles of Moose Creek. A variety of methods were used to place the wood:
- Cable-assisted tipping of trees that retains the large root wads, which provides for good “anchor” logs unlikely to dramatically move during high water events.
- Helicopter placement of logs, which allowed for the transportation of full length trees to the project site.
- Using a self-loader to pick up, transport, and deliver cut logs into the creek.
- Direct felling of trees into the creek, which allowed for conifer release and deposited extra wood into the creek.
Placing full length trees allows for the collection of gravels, which increases spawning habitat. Additionally, the presence of large woody debris in the channel and immediately adjacent riparian zone will increase habitat complexity and quality. Funding for the project and additional partners include the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Federal Payments to Counties grant program, the Albany Chapter of the Northwest Steelheaders and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.