McKay Creek project awarded grant funding


Money will pay for restoration work prompted by introduction of steelhead into creek

As work continues on a project to rehabilitate the McKay Creek watershed, Ochoco National Forest personnel will soon have more money available.

The Deschutes and Ochoco Resource Advisory Committee (RAC), which is a 15-member group comprised of elected officials, environmentalists, and non-timber forest product harvesters, approved a $30,000 grant to help fund the ongoing project.

“We have done a lot of restoration work in the McKay Creek watershed,” said Marcy Anderson, the environmental coordinator for Ochoco National Forest, “including meadow restoration and hands-on riparian restoration in streams.”

The work is spurred by a recent requirement to reintroduce steelhead, a listed endangered species, back into the creek. Anderson said that last year Ochoco staff signed the McKay Fuels and Vegetation EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) decision.

“That NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act document) covered some floodplain reconnection in McKay Creek and some road decommissioning, and another decision the previous year covered meadow and wetland restoration,” she added.

Efforts have so far included everything from fuels reduction to installation of large wood and rock structures inside the creek. The latest grant will fund the seeding and planting of native vegetation as well as planning and design of future on-the-ground work.

“All of this restoration work is intended to improve fish habitat, and put the creeks back where they were before human intervention came in with roads, grazing, and other activities that changed the flow of the streams,” Anderson said.

The RAC grants are awarded through the Title II portion of the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act, commonly known as county payments. The federal legislation encourages individuals, nonprofit organizations, local governments, and others to propose projects that restore watersheds.

“Anyone can apply,” said RAC Coordinator Katrina Van Dis, “and it has to be projects related to watershed, environmental, road maintenance, weeds, etcetera, on Forest Service lands or lands adjacent to forest service lands.”

In addition to the McKay Creek project, the 2014 RAC grants, which totaled $411,000 statewide, funded noxious weed control throughout Central Oregon, the Deschutes Children’s National Forest, youth conservation corps and forest collaborations. Project will also be implemented on Glaze Meadow and at Suttle Lake.

Work on the McKay Creek project is expected to continue for the next few years, Anderson said. “It is going to be staged,” she said. “The design work is starting this year, and then moving out to 2017 for completion, or even 2018 for some seed planting.”