East Oregonian, March 23, 2016
A century of ranching has taken its toll on Catherine Creek in the Grande Ronde Valley.
The creek is home to three different species of threatened or endangered fish — including chinook salmon, steelhead and bull trout — while at the same time providing irrigation for hay fields and cattle pastures. Over the years, portions of middle Catherine Creek were pinched off from its natural floodplain to make room for farms, resulting in a loss of habitat and increased erosion along the stream bank.
It’s a familiar refrain in Eastern Oregon, where the needs of agriculture tend to overlap with the needs of fish and wildlife. Faced with chronic flooding caused by erosion, several private landowners on Catherine Creek brought their concerns in 2010 to the Union County Soil and Water Conservation District. Together, they launched a collaborative restoration project to address longstanding issues on roughly four miles of creekside property upstream of Union.