Copeland Creek (OR) Log Placement Project Comment Opportunity
American Whitewater has been informed by the Forest Service that the agency intends to implement a habitat restoration project on Fish Creek and Copeland Creek in the North Fork Umpqua Watershed of Oregon. The proposed project would include helicoptering approximately 500 logs into these creeks and be conducted under the provisions of the Pacific Northwest Region Aquatic Restoration Project Environmental Assessment. This Environmental Assessment articulates a goal of ensuring that "direct and indirect effects to recreation resources should be minimal to nonexistent,” with outreach to “ensure that existing recreation opportunities and experiences are adequately addressed at the appropriate scope and scale depending on project location, timing and duration.” [At Page 53, <https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=53001>.]
While American Whitewater has supported restoration efforts, including wood placement, on rivers and streams throughout the region, we have concerns with this specific project. Copeland Creek has exceptionally high recreation value, the geomorphology of the creek is a transport reach, and the creek has waterfalls that represent a partial or complete barrier to upstream migration of salmon and steelhead. Copeland Creek has an approximately 17-foot waterfall at river mile 1.75 (as measured upstream from the mouth, known to kayakers as Fountain of Youth, that is a barrier to salmon and a hindrance to steelhead. A 20-foot high waterfall at river mile 3.65 is a complete barrier to steelhead. The treatment area for the proposed action would include the entirety of the approximately 5.5 mile kayak run with a higher percentage of logs placed in the lower ½ mile.
The Forest Service has offered the proposed accommodations for recreation:
Where possible, logs would not span the entire stream. Where possible leave the navigation channel free of logs.
Where possible, construct debris jams to be as stable as possible and place the majority of the log on the bank.
Where possible, place wood in the stream so not to block the navigational channel.
Where possible, consider placing the minimum number of logs necessary to accomplish the proposed action in the Copeland Creek and Fish Creeks. Where possible place a higher percentage of logs in the lower 1⁄2 mile of Copeland Creek than in the upper stretches of Copeland Creek to preserve the upper stretches of Copeland Creek for boating.
The Forest Service has opened a short 20-day comment period that is currently underway (comments due by April 12, 2023) and the local responsible official then has 40 days (until May 22, 2023) to address input. American Whitewater will submit formal comments but individual comments from the community are important and will help demonstrate interest.
Comments can be addressed to:
David Andersen, District Ranger
Diamond Lake Ranger Districts, Umpqua National Forest
18782 North Umpqua Hwy
Glide, OR 97443
Submitting comments by email is preferred:
Reference “Upper North Umpqua Salmon and Steelhead Restoration Project (#FS-0615-059-22)” in the subject line and in your comments.
The Forest Service requests that you include in your comments why you do or do not support placing large wood in Fish and Copeland Creek to restore salmon/steelhead habitat and please cite any scientific or other sources to support your position.
We recommend that those who comment be respectful and express appreciation to the District Ranger for providing this opportunity for public input. Despite requirements to conduct outreach to user groups it does not always happen and we commend the Forest Service for providing the opportunity in this case.
First-hand knowledge of the creek is always the most impactful. Consider including your personal observations on the quality of the whitewater, observations on past wood placement efforts, and natural recruitment of wood in the system, we encourage you to share those observations.
Any reflections on the proposed recreation accommodations listed above would also be of value.
Many members of our community actively support, and are engaged in salmon and steelhead restoration, and we encourage you to share any of your own perspectives on the importance of this work and what tradeoffs the Forest Service should consider on creeks of high recreation value.
Your comments need not be long. Short and concise comments are helpful.
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