The project is located along Catherine Creek, approximately 3 miles southeast of the city of Union, Oregon and falls within the Atlas Biological Significant Reach CCC3b1 which is identified as highest priority with Tier 1 actions. The Phase 3 reach is located on the Southern Cross Ranch, acquired through the CTUIR's Accord agreement with BPA and protected in perpetuity for the conservation and restoration of salmon and steelhead habitat. The property includes about 0.75 miles of Catherine Creek and 68 acres of historic floodplain.
The 402 square mile Catherine Creek watershed in Northeast Oregon's Grande Ronde Basin historically supported viable and productive native fishery resources. Anthropogenic alteration of the watershed has decreased habitat quality, quantity, and fishery productivity, creating decreased fish habitat suitability for multiple key life histories, including juvenile summer and winter rearing, adult holding, and spawning. Habitat limiting factors include: streamflow, passage, water quality, channel and bed form, channel/habitat complexity, side channels, and riparian/wetland habitat. These factors have been detrimental to a host of native aquatic species and contributed to the Endangered Species Act listing of spring-summer Chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha), summer steelhead (O. mykiss) and bull trout (S. confluentus).
Restoration objectives seek to facilitate stable channel form with decreased width to depth ratios, riffle cross sectional area, increased sinuosity with tight radius large pools and profile conductive to improving floodplain connectivity with activation of peripheral juvenile rearing habitat. Furthermore, project actions intend to increase large wood complexes and floodplain roughness elements to encourage sediment deposition and riparian vegetation response, install bioengineered edge roughness and brush mattress to maintain channel dimension and decrease streambank erosion and sediment delivery and provide rapid vegetation regrowth and bank cover, and construct peripheral habitat (floodplain complexes and side channels) to increase juvenile rearing habitat, wetland development and hyporheic connectivity.