Metolius River Stewardship Project
TU is working to restore habitat and water quality for native redband, bull trout, salmon and steelhead habitat on central Oregon’s Metolius River, one of the state’s most popular fishing destinations. The Metolius supports one of the healthiest populations of bull trout in the lower 48 states. This popularity, unfortunately, has led to heavy trail and river use by anglers and recreationists which has resulted in eroded streambanks and trampled vegetation. As a result of the heavy use, there is increased sediment in the stream and the water quality has suffered, thus degrading spawning habitat for the river’s trout and salmon.
The river is popular with anglers, boaters and other recreationists, but the heavy use has, over time, eroded the banks of the river and has destroyed plant life along the river.
Working with partners like the Deschutes National Forest, TU is working to restore a 12-mile stretch of the Metolius to improve conditions for fish. Sediment is a problem and in some places, it literally smothers important trout spawning areas. Also, the lack of plants alongside the river reduces the cover for fish living along the margin of the river and the bank stability, which also isn’t good for trout survival.
In addition to addressing sediment and planting new plants along the river, we’re also working to rebuild trails and to create specific entrances to the river specifically for anglers and other recreationists to use to allow the river to recover.
We're also looking raise community awareness about the river and are engaging in a community-wide stewardship program to engage a diversity of groups in taking care of the Metolius River.
Key project support has been provided by the following funders and we appreciate their support:
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, National Forest Foundation, Oregon Community Foundation, Turner Foundation, Gray Family Foundation, and a diversity of Forest Service grants.
We’ve completed the majority of the degraded sites that were documented along the river, and engaged over 100 volunteers and 500 students in the effort. In addition, we have included college students and TU members through trainings, hands-on volunteer days, and supporting our educational programs. Our adult service learning program —the Deschutes Restoration Outreach Program (DROP)— was created in 2010 to inspire and train adult volunteers about river stewardship and restoration, on the Metolius and across the watershed. DROP participants study stream ecology and are taught how to employ best restoration practices and proven techniques to repair local rivers and streams. Our project on the Metolius has inspired a great diversity of stewards who want to be involved.