Eagle Fern Dam and North Fork Eagle Creek Dam
Basin-wide restoration of Tribal fisheries
About the Project
Eagle Creek supports fisheries for three Tribes: Nez Perce, Grand Ronde, and Warm Springs. The creek is the largest tributary of the lower Clackamas River, which is a major tributary of the lower Willamette River. With intact forest at their headwaters, Eagle Creek and North Fork Eagle Creek provide valuable cold water to the Clackamas River. According to the Clackamas Partnership’s 2018 Strategic Restoration Action Plan, Eagle Creek and its tributaries contain “some of the highest quality stream, riparian and floodplain habitats in the lower…basin.” These two defunct dams represented the final passage barriers on Eagle Creek.
North Fork Eagle Creek Dam, a concrete structure built in the 1960’s was formerly used to divert water and stabilize riverbank but is now defunct. Eagle Fern Dam, a deteriorating concrete structure built in the 1950’s and situated in an old growth forest within a 170-acre county park about 50 minutes from downtown Portland, was originally used for water diversion and more recently as a pond for swimming, which created a public safety hazard. Both dams partially obstructed passage for ESA-listed fish—winter steelhead, spring Chinook and coho—only allowing passage at some higher water levels.
Removal of the Eagle Creek dams are part of broader restoration efforts to recover ESA-listed salmonids in the Clackamas River basin, supporting the Nez Perce, Grand Ronde, and Warm Springs ancestral fishing rights. Both Clackamas County and the private landowner supported removal.
The project is led by Oregon Wildlife Foundation (OWF), a nonprofit organization established in 1981 by business leaders and members of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission to accept donations for and provide funding to fish, wildlife, and public access projects. OWF has supported many restoration projects, but this was its first dam removal effort.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
- Opens 24 miles of spawning and rearing habitat for ESA-listed winter steelhead, spring Chinook, coho; and non-listed cutthroat trout, lamprey, and resident native fish
- Supports watershed-wide restoration efforts in the Eagle Creek watershed and lower Clackamas River
- Removes a safety hazard at Clackamas County Eagle Fern Park
- Restores fisheries for the Nez Perce, Grand Ronde, and Warm Springs Tribes
- Builds regional public awareness of Eagle Creek fishery restoration efforts through interpretative sign at the County Park
Oregon Wildlife Foundation
Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
Oregon Water Enhancement Board
Clackamas Soil and Water Conservation District
Clackamas Basin Council
U.S. Bureau of Land Management
U.S. Forest Service
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Paul G. Allen Family Foundation
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation