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ELR/FHC/CTWS: Pine Creek Beaver Assisted Restoration Pilot Project

Project Type:  Contracted Pilot Project
Project Sponsor:  Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, OR
Project Location: Pine Creek within the Lower John Day Watershed, Oregon
Status:   Completed (January 2015)

Project Overview


Eco Logical Research Inc. (ELR) in conjunction with the Fluvial Habitat Center designed and implemented a pilot restoration project for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs (CTWS), located on the lower 15 km. section of Pine Creek, which is part of the John Day watershed. As part of this effort, a scoping report was also produced which provides geomorphic, hydrologic, and beaver capacity assessment to inform the restoration work. The goal of the Pine Creek pilot project is to test the feasibility and effectiveness of two types of restoration actions: Beaver Dam Analogues (BDAs) and High-Density Large Woody Debris (HDLWD).

The restoration pilot project aims to show the potential for in-stream and riparian habitat restoration along the lower, incised portion of Pine Creek. As such, the placement of restoration structures is in three distinct areas where groups of structures (i.e., complexes) work with each other to promote improvements in the channel and floodplain. Each complex and each structure within the complex possess specific design hypothesis dependent on the current geomorphic and hydrologic condition. The geomorphic and hydrologic assessment completed as part of the scoping effort provided the necessary information on condition and recovery potential to inform the placement and design objectives of the pilot complexes (see scoping document).Each complex consists of a mix of five individual BDAs and HDLWD structures.


This report, contracted by CTWS, inventories the existing geomorphic conditions and recovery potential of the Pine Creek Watershed. It lays out a strategic plan for restoration actions to inform a future detailed design plan. The report presents the results of a hydrologic and geomorphic assessment using a simplified version of the River Styles framework (Brierley and Fryirs, 2005). This data informed the condition and recovery potential assessment presented herein. Additionally, the results of a Beaver Restoration Assessment Tool (BRAT):  analysis presents assessments of existing and potential beaver dam building capacities in the Pine Creek Watershed.

The synthesis of this information into the strategic restoration plan, offers a simple and cost-effective treatment which seeks to partner with the small existent beaver population. It aims to restore geomorphic, hydrologic, and ecological processes which will improve the habitat for aquatic and riparian biota within the incised portions of lower Pine Creek. BDAs and HDLWD structures will produce many of the same benefits as natural beaver dams and achieve other restoration objectives (e.g., provide stable locations for beaver to establish persistent complexes, restore surface water connectivity, etc.).

The strategic restoration plan is not a detailed design plan, but provides recommendations for restoration objectives, priorities, and reach-types throughout the mainstem of Pine Creek. Finally, recommendations also highlight details for maintaining restoration structures and complexes within an adaptive management framework.

Significance of Project:

  • This project is one of only a handful of pilot beaver-assisted restoration projects ever implemented.
  • Beaver-assisted restoration has not been tried on a deeply incised, small stream with limited stream power.
  • Opportunity to transfer knowledge to our project collaborator (CTWS). The CTWS intend to implement this restoration approach over a large scale on their managed lands within the John Day Watershed.
  • Development of a rapid assessment of geomorphic condition and recovery potential using a scaled back version of the River Styles framework.

Pine Creek Project Area

Project Outputs

Presentations from this Project

  • Poster: Portugal, E., Hough-Snee, N., Sorenson, K., Karoglanian, A., Wheaton J.M., Bouwes, N. 2014. Partnering with Beaver in River Restoration: Case Studies from Oregon and Utah. Restoring The West Conference, October 21-22, 2014, Logan, UT

Publications from this Project