Oxbow Conservation Area Tailings Restoration - Phase 5

Salmonid Habitat Restoration and Acquisition

Instream Habitat Riparian Habitat
Project ID15-Warm-02
Recovery DomainsInterior Columbia
Start Date06/01/2016
End Date11/30/2018
Last Edited11/24/2021
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This is a continuation of a project that is part of a very large restoration effort which supports the recovery of anadromous fish (summer steelhead, spring Chinook salmon, and Pacific Lamprey) in the Middle Fork John Day River. This site was dredge-mined for gold from 1939 to 1943 across 200 acres of floodplain. The dredging resulted in loss of soils and vegetation, and it created highly altered stream channels. These channels lack a significant amount of complexity and quality aquatic habitat. Since acquisition in 2001, the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs have studied an approach to treat the limiting factors presented by this site. The Tribes have worked with the Bureau of Reclamation since 2005 to develop solutions for this site. Using the best available practices, this effort will ultimately construct 7,500 feet of new channels and additional habitat enhancement work on existing channels. This project began construction in 2011 with phasing portions of the work. To date (including this phase), five phases of this effort have been completed. Extensive tree planting, seeding, browse fencing, bio-engineering, and large wood structures were executed along the entire project. This project restores the most degraded portion of the upper Middle Fork John Day River.

The Phase 5 portion of this project (at one site) cost ~$1.5 million for construction alone, and about $4.5 million has been invested in Phases 1 through 4, completed in 2011 through 2015. Phase 5 involved constructing 1,950 feet of river channel, nearly 400 feet Ruby Creek channel, and about a 1,000 feet of spring channels and alcove construction. However, Phase 5 also links up with about 2,000 feet of Phase 4 channel, resulting 3,950 feet of new river channel. Earthwork for grading mine tailings and channel construction is extensive, though past phases of work have provided some material ready for Phase 5. At the end of the project, there were about 30,000 cubic yards of material leftover. Some material will be utilized in creating an interpretive site parking area, the rest will be buried. BPA funding (project #2000-015-00), OWEB funding (project #216-6008-12116), and US Fish and Wildlife Partners funding are also contributing greatly to different related components of this effort, and will be reporting their accomplishments and funding through different processes and will not be reported under this project.

Using CRITFC PCSRF funds the WST, treated 0.16 miles of instream habitat and created .04 miles of off-channel stream and 1 instream pool. Thirteen structures of anchored logs and boulders were placed in the channel. Around 103 cubic yards of spawning gravel was placed in the stream. .16 miles of riparian streambank was treated with native species. .13 miles of fencing was constructed to protect 4.18 riparian acres.

The goal of this project is to restore physical and biological processes on this dredge-mined property to benefit summer steelhead and spring Chinook salmon.

Project related videos:

Project Benefit    

The project seeks to restore hydraulic and ecosystem processes for riparian and instream habitats critical for Mid-Columbia summer steelhead, spring Chinook salmon, Pacific Lamprey, and bull trout. This multi-phased project is located in the heart of spring Chinook salmon spawning, adult holding, and juvenile rearing. The property averaged 13% of spring Chinook salmon spawning in this critical habitat zone of the MFJD watershed, but since Phase 1 has been completed in 2011, Chinook spawning on the property has increased to and average 23.4% of the river total. This property is used by steelhead for both juvenile rearing and spawning in the river and five perennial tributaries within the property boundaries. The property has exceptional juvenile rearing potential, stemming from its location in the watershed and the six perennial tributaries entering the river within the property, but degraded habitat conditions limit current production. The Phase 5 Project restores connectivity to the river on Ruby Creek with channel construction and habitat enhancement of the lower 400-500 feet of the creek. Pacific lamprey juveniles are also commonly present in the river and tributaries throughout this property.

The project primary goal is to restore instream habitat conditions and structure for salmonid production, and set the stage for processes needed to sustain habitat features. This project seeks to greatly enhance instream habitat for salmonids in terms of rearing habitat, as this is the main identified bottleneck in population recovery. Pools with large wood structure, complex riffles, and targeted use of cold-water alcoves and spring channels will be the features to aid in rearing habitat for salmonids. Water temperature will also be buffered through an extensive vegetation plan, which promotes stream shading and appropriate channel widths on the constructed channel segments.


Metric Completed Originally
Instream Habitat
  Stream Miles Treated .16 .16
Riparian Habitat
  Stream Miles Treated .16 .16
  Acres Treated 7.0 7.0

Funding Details

Report Total:$225,000

Project Map


Oxbow Conservation Area, near Bates OR    

  • Worksite Identifier: Oxbow Conservation Area, near Bates OR
  • Start Date: 06/01/2016
  • End Date: 11/30/2018
Area Description
River miles 56-57, MF John Day R and Ruby Cr

Location Information

  • Basin: John Day
  • Subbasin:
  • Watershed:
  • Subwatershed:
  • State: Oregon
  • Recovery Domain: Interior Columbia
  • Latitude: 44.644087
  • Longitude: -118.662836


  • Mid-Columbia River Spring-run Chinook Salmon ESU
  • Middle Columbia River Steelhead DPS



Oxbow before Oxbow after New channel and floodplain Washing in fines Phase 5 new channel and spring


  • C.0 Salmonid Habitat Restoration and AcquisitionY (Y/N)
    •      . . C.0.a Habitat restoration and acquisition funding 225,000.00
    •      . . C.0.b Length of stream treated/protected .16
    •      . . C.0.c
      Project identified in a Plan or Watershed Assessment
      Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon. 2010. Oxbow and Forrest Conservation Areas Property and Habitat Management Plan. Northwest Power and Conservation Council, 2005. John Day Subbasin Draft Plan. (+ 3 more, see proposal)
    •      . . C.0.d.1 Project Monitoring (LOV)
    •      . . C.0.d.2 Monitoring Location (LOV)
    •      . . C.4 Instream Habitat ProjectY (Y/N)
      •      . . . . C.4.a Instream Habitat Funding 180,932.00
      •      . . . . C.4.b Total length of instream habitat treated .16
      •      . . . . C.4.c.1 Channel reconfiguration and connectivityY (Y/N)
        •      . . . . . . C.4.c.2 Type of change to channel configuration and connectivity (LOV)
        •      . . . . . . C.4.c.3 Miles of stream treated for channel reconfiguration and connectivity .06
        •      . . . . . . C.4.c.4 Miles of off-channel stream created through channel reconfiguration and connectivity .04
        •      . . . . . . C.4.c.5 Acres of off-channel or floodplain connected through channel reconfiguration and connectivity 2.8
        •      . . . . . . C.4.c.6 Instream pools created/added through channel reconfiguration and connectivity 1
      •      . . . . C.4.d.1 Channel structure placementY (Y/N)
        •      . . . . . . C.4.d.2 Material used for channel structure (LOV)
        •      . . . . . . C.4.d.3 Miles of stream treated through channel structure placement .06
        •      . . . . . . C.4.d.4 Acres of streambed treated through channel structure placement .1
        •      . . . . . . C.4.d.5 Pools expected to be created through channel structure placement 1
        •      . . . . . . C.4.d.6 Yards of average stream-width at mid-point of channel structure placement project2 (Yards)
        •      . . . . . . C.4.d.7 Number of structures placed in channel 13
      •      . . . . C.4.f.1 Spawning gravel placementY (Y/N)
        •      . . . . . . C.4.f.2 Miles of stream treated with addition of spawning gravel .01
        •      . . . . . . C.4.f.3 Cubic yards of spawning gravel placed103 (Cubic yards)
      •      . . C.5 Riparian Habitat ProjectY (Y/N)
        •      . . . . C.5.a Riparian Habitat Funding 44,068.00
        •      . . . . C.5.b.1 Total riparian miles streambank treated .16
        •      . . . . C.5.b.2 Total Riparian Acres Treated 7.0
        •      . . . . C.5.c.1 Riparian plantingY (Y/N)
          •      . . . . . . C.5.c.2
            Species of plants planted in riparian
            Alnus rhombifolia, Carex nudata, Cornus sericea, Crataegus douglasii, Pinus ponderosa, Populus trichocarpa, Prunus emarginata, Ribes aureum, Rosa nutkana, Salix lemmonii, S. exigua, S. Geyeriana, , Sambucus nigra, , etc. plus native grass seeding to include: Achnatherum occidentale, Bromus marginatus, Deschampsia elongata, Elymus elymoides, E. glaucous, Festuca idahoensis, Glyceria striata, Koeleria macrantha, Leymus cinereus, Poa secunda, and Pseudoroegneria spicata.
          •      . . . . . . C.5.c.3 Acres planted in riparian 2.3
          •      . . . . . . C.5.c.4 Miles of streambank treated with riparian planting .16
        •      . . . . C.5.d.1 FencingY (Y/N)
          •      . . . . . . C.5.d.2 Miles of fence along stream .13
          •      . . . . . . C.5.d.3 Acres of riparian area protected by fencing 4.2