Hampton is one of the stakeholders collectively known as the Lower Columbia Salmon Recovery Team, who have partnered with government agencies to formulate a plan to insure that sustainable and “catchable” numbers of non-hatchery bred (wild) salmon return to the Columbia River system.
As early as 1990, Hampton began working on stream and habitat improvement projects. One recent stream enhancement project is on our Big Creek Forest property. With funding from the Bonneville Power Administration, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Columbia River Estuary Task Force and Hampton, the main stem of Big Creek has been moved back to its original channel.
When the railroad was constructed in the current location of the Big Creek Mainline in the early 1900's, two low-elevation bridges were installed across an “oxbow” of the stream. During times of high flows, water would over-top the bridges. Using technology of the time, a channel was excavated to cut off the oxbow. Over time, the bridges deteriorated and were replaced with steel culverts. Through adult salmon spawning and migration monitoring, we have discovered that this channel is a barrier to most upstream migration of Coho salmon and Steelhead at most flows and a barrier to juvenile fish at all flows.
In the spring of 2009, the culverts were replaced with bridges and the mainline road grade was raised to allow the stream to flow in its historic channel. In July, during the “in-stream work period”, the crews blocked the constructed channel and opened access to the river channel. This project opened about 13 miles of previously inaccessible spawning habitat to migrating Coho Salmon and Winter Steelhead.
Click here to read an update on the project.