Rock Creek tumbles down the side of extinct volcanoes, through farmers’ fields, under highways, and along my suburbs west of Portland Oregon. It bisects a golf course, drains lakes, dodges through a maze of linear parks hidden behind industrial complexes, absorbs stormwater runoff from highways, factories and fields, and finally flows past the sewage plant, and into the turbid Tualatin River.
I often day dreamed about how cool it would be to have salmon in a stream near where I lived, like Rock Creek. I always felt blessed just to live somewhere you can get fresh salmon.
I knew other streams nearby harbored salmon and their relatives, the steelhead, and cutthroat trout. Salmon had braved the Tualatin River for decades and had ventured into Rock Creek, the old timers told me angrily.
I just obtained a document related to a nearby bridge replacement over Rock Creek, two miles downstream from me. It said that Rock Creek is excessively polluted (“listed”) and violated standards for biological criteria, ammonia, arsenic, chlorophyll, lack of dissolved oxygen, E coli, iron, lead, phosphorus, and high water temperature. A private party owns a water right to 20% of Rock Creek’s flow.
It also said that winter steelhead still used that particular area of Rock Creek for rearing and migration. Coho salmon have been reported in Rock Creek, and there are resident cutthroat trout.
In other words, despite Rock Creek’s gross pollution, salmon and steelhead have made it upstream past factory and freeway, to less than 2.36 miles from my house!
Apparently there’s a fish barrier across Rock Creek there, two miles downstream from me. Well, my old friends Hayduke, Bonnie, Seldom Seen and Doc know what to do to fish barriers.
I am of course following leads and now have even more documents. The BLM (Bureau of Land Management) owns the watershed for some of Rock Creek and prepared a long report on this drainage, which I now have.
You curl up with John Grisham on your Nook, I’m perusing my BLM EIS.
I will lobby to get rid of any fish barriers, or know the reason why.
The State did away with one potential fish barrier recently, during a different bridge repair job over Rock Creek. They removed three too-small culverts and replaced it with one large culvert, to help fish passage. They also removed the bridge pillars from the stream bed. Here’s some before and after pictures:
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What have you noted in your area or travels? Any favorite creeks?
Please post your observations and general location in your comments. I’ll check back by lunchtime.