The McKenzie River Watershed Council (MWC) and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) are cooperating with multiple partners to initiate a long term project to enhance the fish and wildlife populations and their habitats in Cedar Creek. The Cedar Creek STEP project is intended to bring natural resource professionals, private landowners, and volunteer partners together to find solutions to water quality and habitat issues in Cedar Creek. Although the landscape near Cedar Creek has been impacted by urban and agricultural uses, the Cedar Creek basin remains valuable for native fish and wildlife.
Cedar Creek is a tributary of the lower McKenzie River and drains into a historical side channel of the river near Cedar Flats. This side channel is augmented year around by diverting water from the McKenzie River downstream of Hendricks Bridge to provide water for a variety of uses. If water was not diverted from the McKenzie River, flows in this side channel would be insufficient in the low water months to provide adequate habitat for native fish populations. With approval of an ODFW STEP project, the Cedar Creek Partnership has the authority to divert additional water into Cedar Creek to benefit fish and wildlife and their habitats.
The objectives of the initial phase of the project are to maintain suitable flows in Cedar Creek to meet minimum requirements for aquatic life during the low flow months and to provide off-channel rearing habitat for fish during high flow months. By maintaining adequate flows into Cedar Creek, as well as by improving habitat quality and quantity through enhancement projects, the MWC and its partners seeks to increase fish production in Cedar Creek thus benefiting native fish populations in the McKenzie River basin as a whole.