The Rock Creek basin is a part of the larger Clackamas River watershed, which provides high quality drinking water to approximately 300,000 people and provides critical habitat for many sensitive species of plants, fish and wildlife. The basin begins in the hills east of Interstate 205 and flows southwest to its confluence with the Clackamas River. Rock Creek is a contributing sub-basin to the Clackamas River and drains a watershed with a total area of close to ten square miles (6,278 acres). Beneficial uses for Rock Creek include domestic consumption, industrial supply, irrigation, and habitat for salmonids and other wildlife.The Rock Creek sub-watershed is in the more urbanized part of the Clackamas watershed. It flows through parts of Damascus, and you cross over Rock Creek as you travel east-bound on Highway 212 towards Damascus. Because this area is one of the most developed in our watershed, actions such as planting riparian buffer zones and limiting pesticide use are especially important.
Rock Creek has populations of a number of other fish species including anadromous species such as salmon. While these populations are small and localized they are regionally unique within an urban growth boundary and in an urbanizing area.
Water quality studies in this area have shown elevated water temperatures, pesticide and herbicide presence, low dissolved oxygen, and pollution from runoff. Severe sedimentation of the creek has been seen as a result of reduced riparian habitat.
The Rock Creek watershed has not yet been heavily developed for urban uses, although western drainages and its urban areas are growing and are expected to continue to grow significantly in the future within both the Cities of Happy Valley and Damascus.
We conduct water quality monitoring along Rock Creek and in some of its tributaries to get a picture of the sub-watershed’s health. Some of this monitoring is done in conjunction with Portland State University’s Snapshot Program. CRBC also partners with SOLVE and Friends of Trees to conduct restoration work in the Rock Creek basin, which has been prioritized by Clackamas County Service District Number 1.
More information about Rock Creek can be found in the Rock and Richardson Creek Watersheds Action Plan.