Oxbow and Forrest Conservation Areas
Fish Habitat Restoration Projects in Grant County, Oregon
Our mission is to protect, manage, and enhance habitat that support
culturally significant fish populations for the Tribes.
Why Conservation Areas?
The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs (Tribes) have long traditions of natural resource stewardship. The Tribes identified the Oxbow and Forrest Conservation Areas as Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) mitigation sites, due to their vital roles in anadromous fish habitat protection and recovery. The Oxbow was acquired in 2001, and the Forrest in 2002, with BPA funding. The conservation areas are located near the eastern edge of the Tribes’ Ceded Lands, where they reserve their rights to hunt, fish, gather forest products, and pasture livestock on all unclaimed lands.
Restoring Fish Habitat
In addition to continuous riparian plantings and maintenance, current restoration efforts aim to enhance in-stream habitat. Completed, and future planned projects to attain this goal are: Riprap removals, installation of large woody debris structures, dredge mining rehabilitation, dike removals, fish holding pool creation, stream channel reconnections, fish passage barrier removals, and floodplain reconnections. These in-stream projects, combined with riparian vegetation enhancements, will aid in increasing productive fish habitat in perpetuity.
Historically, the John Day River was one of the most important anadromous (ocean-going) fisheries in the Columbia River Basin. The John Day River today is the third longest undammed river in the coterminous United States. Spring Chinook salmon and summer steelhead populations in the John Day basin are two of the last remaining intact wild populations of anadromous fish, but recent wild runs are a fraction of their former abundance. The conservation areas contain critical habitat for rearing juvenile fish before they start their journey to the ocean as well as spawning habitat for return runs of adult salmon and steelhead.
Partnership & Monitoring
The Tribes cooperate with neighbors, natural resource agencies, conservation organizations, and educational groups. Several future cooperative restoration projects are planned to be implemented with neighboring landowners.
The Tribes conduct and participate in various types of fish and habitat monitoring on the conservation areas including the Intensively Monitored Watershed Program designated for the Middle Fork John Day River. This program engages in long-term monitoring to determine effectiveness of all restoration efforts in the watershed and involves various partners.
Managed grazing has occurred on the conservation areas since 2001. Careful management demonstrates that agricultural uses of the land can also be compatible with resource conservation. The Tribes strive to have the conservation areas serve as models for habitat restoration and land management in the Upper John Day Basin.
Invasive weed species are one of the biggest threats to native plant diversity and consequently, a threat to riparian plants and riparian area habitats. We are fighting noxious and invasive weed species on the conservation areas through a combination of herbicides, biological controls, mowing, and hand pulling. We also attend weed seminars and work with local agencies to have up-to-date information in order to be the most effective in our eradication efforts.
The Oxbow Conservation Area is located along theMiddle Fork of the John Day River, approximately 25 miles from Prairie City, OR. The eastern boundary of the property is 8 miles downstream from the junction of Highway 7 and County Road 20 (Middle Fork Lane). The property is 1,022 acres. It includes 4 miles of the Middle Fork John Day River and 1.75 miles of tributary streams.
The Forrest Conservation Area is 4,232 acres and is split into two geographically separated parcels: The Mainstem parcel and the Middle Fork parcel. The Mainstem parcel is 3,445 acres located one-half mile east of Prairie City, OR. along the Mainstem John Day River. This parcel includes 1.7 miles of the Mainstem John Day River and 3.75 miles of tributary streams. The Mainstem parcel is also the location of the Tribes’ native plant nursery and greenhouse. The nursery and greenhouse grow riparian shrubs and trees for use in restoration projects throughout the basin.
The Middle Fork Forrest parcel is 786 acres and is located one mile west from the junction of Highway 7 and County Road 20 along the Middle Fork John Day River. This parcel includes 4 miles of the Middle Fork John Day River and 1.9 miles of tributary streams.