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Faces of Restoration: Capitan Forestry in Oregon

The Capitan Forestry team cheering after a productive work day.

TU works with some extremely talented characters while developing and completing projects in the field that help make fishing better. We are excited to bring you a series highlighting these Contractors. We hire equipment operators, truck drivers, laborers, material suppliers, engineers, technicians, and water testing labs. They are unique, talented, humble and some are downright wild, but TU’s Contractors are a driving force behind successful projects.  

Many of these projects help maintain the livelihood for some of the smaller outfits that are common in rural towns where many of our projects take place.  

In Oregon, for example, we are working on a “Salmon Superhighway” to open rivers to spawning fish and protect against flood damage. By replacing nearly 100 road crossings over 10 years, we are creating hundreds of jobs, investing $34 million into county roads and river infrastructure, and contributing $54 million to the local economy.  

For one recent project in Montana to restore a section of Cedar Creek in Lolo National Forest, 96 percent of the $486,033 budget went to local firms, which put a dozen people to work on the job. Our friends at American Rivers recently produced a report that found ecological restoration creates 226,000 jobs and contributes $25 billion to the economy.  

TU project managers take pride in fostering these relationships, building community, and hiring local, when possible. So, let the highlights of these fine people begin. 

Submitted by Levi Old, Northeast Oregon project manager

Restoration work in Oregon couldn’t happen without Capitan Forestry. The Grande Ronde and North Fork of the John Day headwaters are critical habitat and special places to fish, and the collaboration between TU and Capitan is making it even better.  

Capitan Forestry historically specialized in upland forest restoration work, but after partnering with TU’s aquatic restoration efforts in the area, they’ve jumped in and fully embraced on-the-ground aquatic and meadow restoration. Over the years, this has included riparian plantings, hand-based, in-stream wood placement and hand-based beaver dam analogue creation.  

Hard at work for the headwaters in Oregon

Project collaboration with Capitan Forestry is key to TU’s work in the headwaters of the Grande Ronde and North Fork of the John Day. These systems are home to steelhead, redband trout, bull trout, chinook salmon and numerous other native, coldwater fish species. With our focus on restoring and enhancing wetlands and meadow systems in this geography, our work creates critical, healthy habitat for these fish as well as all the other flora and fauna who call these systems home.  

“Capitan believes in creating healthy forest ecosystems — a place where plants, animals and people call home. It is a natural resource it strives to keep healthy, clean and beautiful,” said Crystal Rivera. “Recognizing that headwater systems are integral to overall forest health, Capitan expanded its capacity to the benefit of TU, multiple fish species and anglers.”  

Working to create healthy forests and headwaters

Capitan’s incredible work ethic and the crew’s positive attitudes make them a joy to work with in the field. Over the past two years, they’ve helped TU complete an enormous amount of work for fish and wildlife in these headwaters. Thanks to Capitan and funding from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, the Bonneville Power Administration, the Bureau of Reclamation, the National Forest Foundation, the Salmon Habitat Fund among others, healthy habitats for these coldwater species is thriving.