What contributes to a healthy watershed for the south coast?

No two watersheds are exactly the same. Every watershed has a unique set of factors (geology, hydrology, landscape types, land use, etc.) that contribute to how it functions. That being said, there are a number of things that all the watersheds on the south coast can benefit from, many of which are the drivers for the types of projects the Curry Watersheds Partnership implements. A few examples of those important factors are:

Many native species in our area move throughout watersheds during multiple phases of their lives. Sometimes past human actions can restrict that access, such as damming a stream and not providing fish access, or if a culvert under a road that is too small or steep to allow fish to pass through. We work to identify these potential barriers and fix as many of them as we can.

Estuaries, where the river meets the sea, are a small portion of the overall area of a watershed but they have a big impact on watershed health. See our past Curry Currents edition on estuaries for more info! We carry out projects to both better understand, and enhance our estuaries and the important habitats found in them.
A healthy riparian area is vital to the health of a stream. See our past Curry Currents edition on riparian areas for more info! Logs and trees and other vegetation that falls into a stream provide both habitat and nutrients for a large number of aquatic species. So while these areas may look messy and unattractive, know that they are a welcomed sight from a fish’s perspective. Many of our projects involve planting and maintaining riparian areas, and sometimes even installing large logs in the stream both to help stabilize a stream in some situations and also to provide a foundation for that “messy” habitat.
There are many different parts of a river system that make up the whole, and each one serves a different purpose and has importance to the system. Aside from the main channel in a stream, other things like side-channels, ponded backwater areas, and wetlands provide habitat and nutrients for aquatic species, help improve water quality, and prevent flooding. We work in a number of watersheds to help enhance these habitat types to make sure all the parts of the watershed are as healthy as they can be.
Our community on the southern Oregon coast is directly and indirectly affected by our watersheds in many different ways. These rivers provide drinking water to people’s homes, recreational opportunities, and drive important pillars of our economy through fishing and tourism. This relationship goes both ways. The more we work within the bounds of what is attainable and sustainable without sacrificing the health of our watersheds, the healthier our community will be. That’s why we thank everyone who has had a helping hand over the years in us achieving our goals, and those who put value in the health of our watersheds.

In-Stream Restoration

The Curry Watershed Partnership has been involved in the removal of non-native, invasive weeds since 2004. Early projects focused on gorse removal in the Floras Creek watershed with an emphasis on eradicateng outlier infestations and containing larger populations from spreading. Over time the Partnership has expanded its weed management program to include many of the plants listed on the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s (ODA) Oregon Noxious Weed Policy and Classification List. This list is developed and maintained by the Oregon State Weed Board (OSWB).

Where is our food coming from, and how is it getting to us?

OSWB’s list of weeds is grouped into two main categories based on a particular weeds distribution and economic importance. Annually, an additional designation is added to the existing list that creates a focus for prevention and control by ODA’s Noxious Weed Control Program. Action against these weeds will receive priority. Grant funding is available through the OSWB Grant Program. Grants are available every year and are funded by State Lottery dollars and administered by the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB) and ODA.
The Curry County Soil and Water Conservation District serves as the Weed Control District for Curry County. They also maintain a County specific list of weeds which by default includes the State’s list, but also other weeds of local concern.

Vegetation Management

Healthy watersheds depend on streamside vegetation to filter pollutants, shade the water keeping it cool, and to prevent erosion. This vegetation buffer along rivers and streams is called the Riparian Zone. Riparian vegetation supplies many ecological services to the fauna, including people, living within the watershed.
  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Shade
  • Large Wood Recruitment
  • Runoff Filtering
  • Soil Stabilization
  • Clean Water

The Curry Watersheds Partnership has been involved in riparian restoration projects since 1990’s. Many of the riparian areas in Curry County have been severely impacted by various land uses including timber harvest, agriculture, and urban development. Over time as the riparian area is encroached on and vegetation is removed stream channels begin to erode and simplify (which often leads to ditching by landowners). This is state of many of the small creeks on the southern Oregon Coast. 

Numerous programs exist to assist landowners with resource concerns. See below for the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board’s Small Grant Program.

Off-stream watering, fencing, gully stabilization, sediment abatement, stream restoration, and riparian enhancement are some examples of the types of projects where the District can offer services.

For Riparian work – Contact Drew Harper

Small Grant Program

The OWEB Small Grant Program awards grants up to $15,000 for on the ground watershed enhancement projects on the South Coast. The Small Grant payee must be the Curry Soil and Water Conservation District, but this entity can act on behalf of private landowners, not-for-profit institutions, schools, community colleges, state institutions of higher education, independent not-for-profit institutions of higher education, tribes, watershed councils, and local, state, or federal agencies.

The application deadlines for 2019-21 are listed in the bylaws.

Application Window Open: October 1-15, 2020

For more information on the small grant program, you can explore the sites/pages below:

For more information about the program, please contact Miranda Gray, miranda.gray@currywatersheds.org or 541-373-3127