More than 90 Douglas fir logs were placed in Suter Creek by helicopter during a recent project in the George area.
On Thursday, June 25, the fourth and final phase of the Suter Creek Fish Habitat Restoration project was completed. Spearheaded by local resident David Bugni, the work began in 2014 and previously included the removal of a culvert, creating side channels and constructing additional structures for fish habitats.
Funding for the project's final phase came from Portland General Electric.
During the last phase of the restoration, 95 Douglas fir logs were placed in the creek to create 22 structures for habitats for salmon and steelhead. The logs were delivered via helicopter because of a 300-foot drop in the nearby Suter Creek Canyon.
"I was really impressed with how exact they could place these logs," Bugni said, discussing the work of BioHabitats, the general contractor that worked on the project. "They're big and long, and you want them to be placed in an interlocking manner so they act as a unit."
In a video discussing the project, Bugni explained that steelhead and salmon are the basis of the watershed's ecosystem.
"From dippers to black bears to the surrounding forest, they all depend upon these fish," he said. "When you have a watershed like this, virtually undeveloped and unpolluted, with an intact forest canopy to keep waters cold, the only limiting factor that prevents fish from thriving is a lack of high-quality, physical habitat."
Along with trees dying because of disease or age, Bugni noted that logs were likely removed from the creek during the mid-1900s with the mistaken idea that unobstructed water was best for fish.
A former neighbor inspired Bugni to embark on the multiphased restoration endeavor of Suter Creek.
"We had a neighbor who was born in 1915, and he used to share recollections of what he remembered growing up, and coming to the creek during spawning season. There were so many fish. When I first met him, there were hardly any," Bugni said.
Along with the restoration work at Suter Creek, logs also were brought into a stretch of Eagle Creek via helicopter for a project facilitated by the Clackamas River Basin Council at Bonnie Lure State Recreation Area.
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