• Wild fish population in John Day will benefit from restoration of habitat degraded by mining and grazing

    Feb. 2015 update: Here's the latest on this multi-year project to restore the Oxbow conservation area in the John Day River. Phases 4 and 5 will be completed in 2015-2016.

    The John Day River, located in the north central part of Oregon, is the second-longest free-flowing stream in the continental United States.  It is also one of only two river systems in the entire Columbia River Basin that is managed exclusively for wild anadromous fish. The Middle Fork of the John Day has been negatively impacted by past dredge mining, land clearing, grazing, and water withdrawal.

    July 2012 update on the John Day project

    In 2001, the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation purchased the 1,022 Oxbow Conservation Area – over six miles of stream habitat in the upper Middle Fork of the John Day, within the Malheur National Forest.  The Malheur National Forest, the Tribe and the Bureau of Reclamation are cooperatively restoring the stream habitat to benefit threatened summer steelhead, bull trout and spring chinook salmon, lamprey and sensitive freshwater mussels.


    The Oxbow Tailings Project will help the aquatic and riparian habitats recover and improve the productivity of listed and non-listed fish. In Phase 1, completed in 2011, partners placed large woody debris in the south channel and an undercut bank structure in a sharp, eroding bend in the channel to help cool water temperatures and provide refuge for the fish to spawn and rear.


    Phase 2 will restore approximately 1,300 feet of Granite Boulder Creek and its confluence with the Middle Fork that was impacted by past dredge mining. Phase 3, to be completed in 2014, will restore more than a mile of the mainstem Middle Fork John Day River and 400 feet of Ruby Creek, addressing past dredge mining, road, and irrigation diversion impacts. 


    South channel before                                                                                 South channel after












  • Project at a glance

    Location: Oregon's Upper Middle Fork John Day River, Blue Mountain Ranger District, Malheur National Forest

    Biological objectives: Recover acquatic and riparian habitats and reduce water temperatures in order to maximize productivity of listed and non-listed fish. 

    Species: ESA-listed mid-Columbia steelhead and spring chinook salmon, lamprey and sensitive freshwater mussels

    Partners: US Forest Service, Bureau of Reclamation, Conferederated Tribes of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, BPA, Ecotrust, Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Board, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board

    References: Mid-Columbia River Steelhead Recovery Plan, NOAA and USFWS 2008 Acquatic Restoration Programmatic Biological Opinion