Bummer Creek restoration work party planned for Feb. 7

The MidCoast Watersheds Council is seeking volunteers to join a restoration work party which will help to create chicken wire cages to protect plantlife from animals at Bummer Creek, near Alsea, on Friday, Feb. 7. This will help to ensure plants survive long enough to aid the local environment by providing erosion control, water filtration and carbon storage — among other things. (Courtesy photo)

Help establish native plants to restore salmon and Oak Savanna habitat at Bummer Creek, near Alsea,  as part of a restoration work party hosted by the Midcoast Watersheds Council on Friday, Feb. 7.

Bummer Creek is a tributary to the South Fork Alsea River. The Alsea flows directly from the flanks of Marys Peak — the highest point in the Coast Range — to the Pacific Ocean. The river is home to Chinook and coho salmon, as well as steelhead and cutthroat trout, supporting a popular recreational fishery. The Alsea watershed is unique among many coastal rivers in that it contains historic oak savanna habitat in its’ eastern reaches, as well as the lush, conifer rainforests more characteristic of the coast.

However, one-third of Bummer Creek was documented at-risk of high water temperatures that threaten aquatic organisms in a Bureau of Land Management South Fork Alsea Watershed Analysis, due in part to historic land management practices that removed vegetation from the streambanks and altered the natural course of the stream.

In the summer of 2019, the private landowners worked with the MidCoast Watersheds Council and partners at the BLM, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Benton Soil and Water Conservation District and the Natural Resources Conservation Service to re-connect Bummer Creek to its’ historic oxbows to provide important, off-channel habitat for juvenile salmonids. Now it is time to establish a buffer of native vegetation around the stream and enhance upland oak savanna area — with the help of community volunteers.

The primary goal of the Restoration Work Party will be to create chicken wire cages to protect new plants from animal browse while they are growing. This step is vital to ensure that whatever plants are put in the ground will survive to fully realize the long-term benefits of shade, water filtration, erosion control and large wood recruitment for the stream, as well as carbon storage. Depending on the weather conditions, there may be opportunities for planting as well. A full tour of the restoration area will also take place to talk about the habitat benefits already occurring and those coming down the road.

This is a chance to play a firsthand role in restoration efforts while learning more about the-on-the-ground work MidCoast Watersheds Council and partners complete. For those who are coming from the coast, the group will meet at 9:30 a.m. in the Ray’s parking lot in Waldport — please RSVP in advance so organizers know who to expect. From there, the group will carpool/caravan to the restoration site near the town of Alsea,which is about an hour drive. The party will work until 2 p.m. with lunch and snack breaks, and the option for some to leave earlier as needed. Please bring water, food, rain protection, working boots and gloves.

To RSVP, please contact Restoration Program Assistant Ari Blatt at [email protected] or 541-265-9195.

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