Rock & Richardson Creek Watersheds Action Plan

RECOMMENDED ACTION PLAN

Rock and Richardson Creek Watersheds

Recommended Action Plan

Ecotrust

1200 NW Naito Parkway

Portland, Oregon 97209

  

November, 2000

Acknowledgments

Ecotrust prepared this recommended action plan under contract with the Clackamas Watershed Basin Council. Funding for this work was provided by a grant from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board. Contact the Clackamas River Basin Council for additional information on Council activities in Rock and Richardson Creek watersheds and the Clackamas River Basin:

 

Clackamas River Basin Council

P.O. Box 1869

Clackamas, Oregon 97015

503-303-4372

info@clackamasriver.org

 

Preface

This recommended action plan outlines a suggested role and strategy for the Clackamas River Basin Council in protecting and restoring the health and integrity of Rock and Richardson watersheds. This strategy is based on information in the October 2000 Rock and Richardson Creek Watershed Assessment. It is also based on the assumption that significant changes in land use through the urbanization and associated development of major portions of these two watersheds is inevitable.

This is a recommended action plan, and has not been adopted in whole or in part by the Clackamas River Basin Council.

Recommended Action Plan

1           Background

The assumed goal for the Clackamas River Basin Council is to protect and restore the integrity of Rock and Richardson watersheds within the context of work that must be done for the entire Clackamas Basin. The Council has identified four primary goals and priorities for their work in the larger Clackamas Basin.

v      Maintain and improve native anadromous and resident fish habitat in the Clackamas River basin.

v      Maintain and enhance water quality of the Clackamas River to meet and surpass the state water quality standards.

v      Maintain sufficient flows to support in-stream beneficial uses.

v      Protect and enhance natural areas associated with river and stream habitat.

Since the financial, labor and political resources of the Council are limited, setting priorities for action is crucial. In the Rock and Richardson Creek watersheds these priorities must be driven by the fact that pending urbanization will have an overwhelming influence on these two watersheds in the near and long-term. Actions such as upstream riparian tree planting and bank stabilization -- which can have significant value in rural watersheds where land use patterns are relatively stable -- may be relatively inconsequential in comparison to the need to address the potential impacts of urbanization in the core of these watersheds. In the face of pending alterations to the landscape, Council efforts should be focused first on protecting the best fisheries habitat and watershed values, second on ensuring that watershed health is maintained as urbanization occurs, and finally on restoring and rebuilding more damaged ecosystems.

The intent of this recommended action plan is not to provide an exhaustive list of all potential data collection, restoration, education and community building projects. Rather, it is intended to outline a strategic approach for the Council to protect and enhance ecosystem health in these two watersheds, and is presented here in five sections.

v      Protection and Restoration of Key Areas

v      Community Outreach and Education

v      Monitoring and Research

v      Planning and Urbanization

v      Short-term Restoration Projects

The activities within this recommended approach provide multiple opportunities for integration of Council efforts in education and outreach, monitoring, research, planning and policy development, and on-the-ground actions. There are countless other actions that the Council could take towards watershed health, but these are suggested as the most strategic.Ý

2           Protection and Restoration of Key Areas

The watershed assessment (Ecotrust, October 2000) identified three critical areas for salmonids in Rock and Richardson Creeks: Lower Rock Creek, from the mouth up to the falls; Middle Rock Creek, from SE 172nd east to Foster Road; and the forested canyons of Lower Richardson Creek. If salmonids cannot be retained in these core sections, then they cannot continue to exist in the respective watersheds. Moreover, these core salmonid areas and the broader zones that support them also have significant water quality, water quantity, soil stability, and wildlife habitat values. If the Council can do nothing else in these two watersheds, it should work to ensure that existing values in these areas are retained and enhanced through protection, monitoring and restoration.

The recommended protection of these core areas does not negate the value of protecting and restoring other important ecological values in these two watersheds. For example, the riparian zones on all creeks in these two watersheds are critical habitat vital to the survival of salmonids. Good water quality and healthy riparian zones are the key to salmonid survival. The Council should make every effort through policy and private landowner incentives to afford maximum possible protection to these riparian areas.

2.1         Forested Riparian Zone of Lower Richardson Creek

The mostly intact, forested canyon of lower Richardson Creek (reach 1) is fundamental to the health of this watershed and to the presence of salmon is this creek. This particular area also provides wildlife habitat connectivity between the upper Buttes area and the forested areas of the Clackamas Valley. This zone has been roughly delineated on the accompanying Opportunity map based on the extent of steep slopes, soils with high erosion potential, wetlands, and intact forest cover and other natural areas. Highly erodable soils cover 40 percent of this 620-acre area, over one quarter of the area has slopes greater than 25 percent, and wetlands cover a little over three percent, or nearly 20 acres. Over 80 percent of this zone is forested, primarily in closed canopy mixed conifer deciduous forest.

Lower Richardson Creek Canyon Zone: Vegetation and Land Cover Type*

Vegetation and Land Cover Type

acres

percent

Barren and Sparsely Vegetated

13.10

2.11

Low Structure Agriculture

53.68

8.64

Deciduous Closed Canopy Forest

38.43

6.19

Mixed Closed Canopy Forest

337.06

54.26

Conifer Closed Canopy Forest

69.68

11.22

Deciduous Open Canopy Forest

48.89

7.87

Mixed Open Canopy Forest

15.82

2.55

Conifer Open Canopy Forest

1.24

0.20

Deciduous Scattered Canopy Forest

6.34

1.02

Mixed Scattered Canopy Forest

5.47

0.88

Conifer Scattered Canopy Forest

0.31

0.05

Closed Canopy Shrub

13.96

2.25

Open Canopy Shrub

3.49

0.56

Scattered Canopy Shrub

3.62

0.58

Meadow

10.09

1.62

*Source: Metro (1998).

The protection of this canyon area and the critical salmonid habitat it supports is particularly important as parts of this watershed continue to urbanize. Most of this canyon zone lies outside the urban reserve zone and is therefore unlikely to be developed in the near future. Rather, the principal threat to the water quality, water quantity, soil stability, and wildlife habitat values provided by this area is from timber harvesting by current or future landowners. Given the fragile nature of much of this zone and its direct connection to critical salmonid habitat; tree removal and other activities associated with timber harvesting in this particular zone could have a significant impact on overall watershed health. Current State of Oregon forest practice regulations do not prevent the removal of most of this forest cover. The Council must take a lead role in ensuring that this area remains largely intact. This will require working with landowners, the Metro Greenspaces Program, Clackamas County, and local land trusts to find appropriate economic and policy mechanisms for retaining this area as intact forest.

This lower canyon zone includes about 191 separate tax lots owned by 142 different landowners. The average lot size is about six acres, although sizes range from a little over one thousand square feet to 43 acres. Many of the larger lots, however, extend well beyond the delineated zone. Most of these tax lots are occupied; about 70 percent have assessed improvement values of $25,000 or more.

2.2         Forested Riparian Zone of Lower Rock Creek

As in lower Richardson Creek, the forested riparian zone of lower Rock Creek (reaches 1, 2 and 3) is fundamental to the health of that watershed and to the hope of restoring healthy populations of salmon to the lower end of this creek. This zone is also delineated on the accompanying Opportunity map based on the extent of steep slopes, soils with high erosion potential, wetlands, and intact forest cover. Highly erodable soils cover 30 percent of this 293-acre area, and nearly 40 percent of the area has slopes greater than 25 percent. Over 65 percent is forested, primarily in closed canopy mixed conifer and deciduous forest and nearly 18 percent is in agriculture.

Lower Rock Canyon: Vegetation and Land Cover Type*

Vegetation and Land Cover Type

acres

percent

Water

0.09

0.03

Barren and Sparsely Vegetated

18.19

6.22

Agriculture

52.35

17.90

Deciduous Closed Canopy Forest

17.17

5.87

Mixed Closed Canopy Forest

104.81

35.83

Conifer Closed Canopy Forest

27.21

9.30

Deciduous Open Canopy Forest

10.92

3.73

Mixed Open Canopy Forest

11.73

4.01

Conifer Open Canopy Forest

0.77

0.26

Deciduous Scattered Canopy Forest

12.42

4.25

Mixed Scattered Canopy Forest

5.14

1.76

Conifer Scattered Canopy Forest

0.91

0.31

Closed Canopy Shrub

12.05

4.12

Open Canopy Shrub

3.44

1.18

Scattered Canopy Shrub

4.97

1.70

Meadow

10.37

3.55

*Source: Metro (1998).

Like the Lower Richardson canyon area, protection of the Lower Rock Creek canyon area and the critical salmonid habitat it supports is particularly important as parts of this watershed urbanize. All of this zone lies either within the current urban growth boundary or within the urban reserve zone and is therefore likely to be developed in the near future. Given the fragile nature of much of this zone and its direct connection to critical salmonid habitat, intensive development could have a significant impact on overall watershed health. The Council must take a lead role in ensuring that the remaining forest cover area remains largely undisturbed. This will require working with landowners, the Metro Greenspaces Program, Clackamas County, and local land trusts to find appropriate economic and policy mechanisms for retaining this area as intact forest.

The lower Rock Creek canyon zone includes about 229 separate tax lots owned by 161 different landowners. The average lot size is about 2 acres, although sizes range from a little over one thousand square feet to 50 acres. Many of the larger lots extend beyond the delineated zone. Most of these tax lots are occupied; nearly 60 percent have assessed improvement values of $25,000 or more.

The Council must take a lead role in ensuring that this area remains largely intact. This will require working with landowners, the Metro Greenspaces Program, Clackamas County, and local land trusts to find appropriate economic and policy mechanisms for retaining this area as intact forest.

2.3         Middle Rock Creek

The Council should take a lead role in restoring the riparian zone and stream channel in middle Rock Creek (all of reach 5 and parts of reach 4 and 6). Part of this area contains a small and isolated population of cutthroat trout in a stretch of Rock Creek between Foster Road and SE 172nd Avenues. Generally there is poor riparian cover in this section, partly channelized stream sections, a lack of habitat complexity and a lack of refuge habitat. The stability and recovery of cutthroat trout in upper Rock Creek depends on restoration of riparian cover and habitat in this zone.

As roughly delineated on the Opportunity map, this area is about 300 acres in size, and is characterized by primarily gentle slopes, although eleven percent of the area has slopes of between 25 and 50 percent. Currently, only 62 percent of the land cover is forested. Tree planting and restoration is most important for areas closest to the creek.

Middle Rock Creek: Vegetation and Land Cover Type*

Land Cover Type

acres

percent

Barren and Sparsely Vegetated

31.00

10.12

Agriculture

35.74

11.67

Deciduous Closed Canopy Forest

47.85

15.63

Mixed Closed Canopy Forest

68.92

22.51

Conifer Closed Canopy Forest

7.59

2.48

Deciduous Open Canopy Forest

16.43

5.37

Mixed Open Canopy Forest

29.91

9.77

Conifer Open Canopy Forest

1.39

0.45

Deciduous Scattered Canopy Forest

11.68

3.81

Mixed Scattered Canopy Forest

5.44

1.78

Conifer Scattered Canopy Forest

0.62

0.20

Closed Canopy Shrub

13.20

4.31

Open Canopy Shrub

7.02

2.29

Scattered Canopy Shrub

5.99

1.95

Meadow

23.40

7.64

*Source: Metro (1998).

The middle Rock Creek zone includes about 189 separate tax lots owned by 137 different landowners. The average lot size is about four acres, although sizes range from a little less than 700 square feet to 125 acres. Many of the larger lots, however, extend well beyond the delineated zone. Most of these tax lots are occupied; about 65 percent have assessed improvement values of $25,000 or more

The Council will need to work with landowners and residents of this area to:

v      Identify and repair any fish barriers,

v      Identify potential sources of erosion and sedimentation and address them with best management practices, and

v      Promote plantings of native tree species within the riparian zone.

2.4         Potential Partners for Protection and Restoration of Key Areas

Clackamas Planning

9101 SE Sunnybrook Blvd.

Clackamas, OR 97015

503.353.4400

www.co.clackamas.or.us

www.co.clackamas.or.us/dtd/lngplan/l-plan.html (long term planning by project)

 

Columbia Land Trust

1351 Officers' Row

Vancouver, WA 98661

306.696.0131

www.columbialandtrust.org

 

Metro Parks and Greenspaces

600 NE Grand Ave.

Portland, OR 97232-2736

503.797.1850

www.metro-region.org/parks/parks.html

 

Metro's Metropolitan Greenspaces Program has begun to identify and protect natural areas within the metropolitan area. The goal of the program is to establish a regional system of natural areas, parks, and open spaces that are connected by trails and greenways. Metro has identified specific greenway linkages within the Rock Creek Watershed for acquisition and public management.

Oregon Sustainable Agriculture Land Trust (OSALT)

PO Box 1106

Canby, OR 97013-1106

503.263.8392

www.osalt.org

 

Trust for Public Lands

Oregon Field Office

1211 SW Sixth Ave.

Portland, OR 97204

503.228.4529

www.tpl.org/nearu/nwro

3           Community Outreach and Education

Community outreach and education should be aimed at creating awareness of the role of watersheds and key watershed issues, building support for community watershed efforts, and changing behavior patterns in ways that restore and enhance watershed health. Many of the activities of the Clackamas Basin Council provide important outreach and education opportunities. Activities that protect and restore these creeks should be used as a vehicle for larger Clackamas Basin protection efforts. Moreover, there will be a lot of media publicity as this area urbanizes, and the Council should be prepared to use it to advantage There are at least two specific projects, however, for which education is the principal goal. In conducting outreach and education the Council should stimulate community partnerships with local schools, landowners, and businesses, and aim to create a watershed community that will take the individual steps needed to maintain and restore watershed health. Two excellent avenues for reaching the local community are the Damascus and Sunnyside Community Fairs in July and August as well as the Rock Creek Community Association.

3.1         Damascus Restoration Demonstration

The Council should take a lead role in restoration of the section of Richardson Creek that has been damaged by channelization and the failure of the Safeway and Dairy Queen septic systems. This site is a critical link to water quality in Richardson Creek. Moreover, while it may not be the most important restoration project in the watershed, it is the most visible one and provides an excellent opportunity to connect residents to the Richardson Creek watershed and demonstrate the potential for restoration. As a leader in this effort the Council will need to work closely with the landowners, broker the roles of various local and regional agencies, search for creative solutions to the specific challenges of the site, and gather and focus the energies of local residents. For example, while the Damascus waste treatment issue has often been framed as a dilemma between inadequate septic and unavailable sewer systems there may be other viable alternatives for onsite biological waste treatment. A Living Machine is one example of an effective and economical system for biological treatment of high strength industrial wastewater and sewage that could offer an effective solution. Living Machines incorporate and accelerate the processes nature uses to purify water. With the help of sunlight and a managed environment, a diversity of organisms including bacteria, plants, snails, and fish break down and digest organic pollutants. Depending on the climate, Living Machines can be housed in a protective greenhouse, under light shelter or in the open air.

The Council may be able to play a pivotal role in brokering resources and partners to implement such a local solution.

3.1.1        Resources for Damascus Area Restoration

Living Technologies
431 Pine Street
Burlington, Vermont 05401
802.865.4460
Fax: 802.865.4438
info@livingtechnologies.com

http://www.livingtechnologies.com

http://www.livingtechnologies.com/htm/home.htm

 

Environmental Protection Agency

U.S. EPA Region 10
1200 6th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101
206.553.1200
http://www.epa.gov/region10/

http://www.epa.gov/owmitnet/ (Office of Wastewater Management)

 

State of Oregon
Department of Environmental Quality
811 SW Sixth Avenue
Portland, OR 97204

800.452.4011

 

Water Environment Services (WES)

Clackamas County

9101 SE Sunnybrook Blvd, #441

Clackamas, OR 97015

503.353.4567

 

3.1.2        Further Reading related to Damascus Area Restoration

Whole Earth Review. Modern Landscape Ecology (Special Issue). Whole Earth Review. Summer 1998.

Honachefsky, William B. Ecologically Based Municipal Planning. Lewis Publishers. 1999.

Matilsky, Barbara C..Ý Fragile Ecologies: Contemporary Artists' Interpretations. Rizzoli Books. 1992.

United States Environmental Protection Agency. Wastewater Primer. EPA 833-K-98-001. May 1998. (http://www.epa.gov/owmitnet/primer.pdf).

3.2         Use of Fertilizers, Herbicides, and Pesticides

The Council should take a lead role in educating residents, operators, businesses and vendors about the role of fertilizer, herbicide and pesticide on water quality and watershed health, and more sustainable alternatives to their use. This outreach and education effort should be strategically focused for greatest long-term impact. Likely partners to the Council may include University Extension and Metro as well as local business associations and non-profits.

Conventional agriculture relies on massive application of pesticides, fertilizers, and fossil fuels, which result in soil erosion and the contamination of groundwater and ecosystems. As an alternative, sustainable agriculture eliminates the use of pesticides and artificial chemicals and largely maintains soil fertility by application of on-farm residues and rotation of nitrogen-fixing crops. Any external fertilizers must themselves be sustainably produced. Soil erosion is minimized through crop choices, cover-cropping, and low-till methods, and crop diversity provides inherent resilience in the face of pests, disease, and weather extremes.

Most, but not all, aspects of Sustainable Agriculture are addressed by organic certification standards like those administered state-wide by California Tilth and Oregon Tilth and nationally by the U.S.D.A. This form of product labeling and certification is well-understood in the marketplace, and can attract a premium of 50% or more. The organic food market is the fastest growing sector of the food industry, with a growth rate of 20% per year over the last two decades. Processors, handlers, marketers, and restaurants can also receive organic certification, creating a wide range of opportunities for value-added production.

Agriculture is only one source of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides, and a diminishing one in the Rock and Richardson Creek watersheds. The use and impact of fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides on watershed health in urban and suburban areas can often exceeds that of agricultural areas due to the unregulated use by untrained homeowners. Owners of farms and household landscapes and gardens can improve watershed health by maintaining their own soil fertility, avoiding pesticide use, and preventing erosion.

3.2.1        Partners and Resources for Fertilizer, Herbicide and Pesticide Reduction

 

Oregon State University

North Willamette Research and Extension Center

15210 NE Miley Road

Aurora, Oregon 97002-9543
503.678.1264

Fax: 503.678.5986

http://osu.orst.edu/dept/NWREC/

Northwest Coalition for Alternatives to Pesticides (NCAP)

P.O. Box 1393

Eugene, Oregon 97440

503.344.5044 ÝÝÝ Ý

Fax: 541.344.6923

http://www.pesticide.org/

 

Washington Toxics Coalition

4649 Sunnyside Ave N Suite 540E
Seattle WA 98103
206.632.1545
http://www.watoxics.org/

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Grant program (SARE)

United States Department of Agriculture

Room 322, Agricultural Science Building
4865 Old Main Hill Road
Logan, Utah 84322-4865
435.797.2257

http://wsare.usu.edu

 

The mission of SARE is to expand knowledge and adoption of sustainable agriculture practices that are economically viable, environmentally sound and socially acceptable. An example of their grant program is the Farmer/Rancher Research and Education Grant program (USDA). Producers and producer groups residing in the Western U.S. eligible to compete for grants to identify, evaluate and test sustainable agriculture practices and challenges.

 

Oregon Sustainable Agriculture Land Trust (OSALT)

P.O. Box 1106

Canby, Oregon 97013-1106

503. 263.8392

Email:Ý osalt@teleport.com

http://www.osalt.org

 

OSALT protects urban gardens and farm, ranch and forestland, holding them in trust for agricultural use by future generations. OSALT trains growers in sustainable practices through apprenticeships, seminars, workshops and publications, and seeks to inform the public of the importance of sustainable practices.

 

Oregon Tilth

1860 Hawthorne Ave. NE

Suite 200

Salem Oregon, 97303

503.378.0690

http://www.tilth.org

 

Oregon Tilth is a non-profit research and education organization certifying organic farmers, processors, retailers and handlers throughout Oregon, the United States, and internationally.

 

The Food Alliance

1829 NE Alberta, # 5
Portland, OR 97211
503.493.1066
Email: info@thefoodalliance.org

http://www.thefoodalliance.org

 

As an independent third party the Food Alliance endorses farms that meet their strict requirements and allow products to carry their seal of approval, which ensures consumers that they are buying healthy food and supporting farmers who protect the environment and provide safe and fair working conditions for their employees. Farmers whose products bear the label meet or exceed their standards in the areas of conserving soil and water, pest and disease management, and human resources.

 

Chefs Collaborative

282 Moody Street, Suite 207

Waltham, MA 02453
781.736.0635

Email: cc2000@chefnet.com or info@portlandcc.org

http://www.portlandcc.org

http://www.chefnet.com/cc2000

The Chefs Collaborative is a network of chefs, restaurateurs and other culinary professionals who promote sustainable cuisine by teaching children, supporting local farmers, educating each other & inspiring their customers to choose clean, healthy foods.

Environmental Working Group (EWG) 1718 Connecticut Ave., N.W.Nickerson Marina Building

Suite 600   1080 W. Ewing Pl, Suite 301
Washington, DC 20009   Seattle, WA 98119
202.667.6982 206.286.1235 x18
Email: info@ewg.org Email: ewg_seattle@ewg.org

 

The Environmental Working Group is a leading content provider for public interest groups and concerned citizens who are campaigning to protect the environment. They produce hundreds of headline-making reports each year, drawing on original EWG analyses of government and other data. Food News (http://www.foo