Deschutes Tributary Restoration Design


Wild Fish Conservancy (WFC) developed preliminary designs to protect and restore a unique Deschutes River (Thurston County, WA) spring fed wetland and stream complex. The 4,100-foot-long spring-fed stream, wetland, and beaver pond complex joins the mainstem Deschutes river on the Meyer farm property. Off-channel cold water refugia is identified as a limiting factor for coho in the Deschutes watershed. Working closely with the Meyer family and Thurston Conservation District, WFC developed plans to protect and restore this important small tributary to improve salmon  access to complex and cool off-channel habitats. When constructed, this project will increase the quality and quantity of salmon spawning and rearing habitat in a Deschutes River reach where such habitat is limited. Spring-fed off-channel habitat is essential to wild fish recovery because it provides stable habitat during the summer low flow period and during winter storm events.

WFC performed a fish species composition and distribution survey of within the project reach on the Meyer farm, documenting juvenile coho salmon, coastal cutthroat trout, sculpin, and dace. WFC also collected hourly water temperature data at five locations within the project reach to identify cold water sources and areas with elevated water temperatures. To document the channel-adjacent topography and extent of flooding, WFC collected and digitized aerial photographs during a winter storm event. Using these data along with high resolution elevation data (LiDAR), WFC staff and partners assessed a comprehensive range of protection and restoration alternatives, worked with the landowner to identify preferred actions that maximize benefit to salmon habitat, and developed preliminary designs and a design report for the selected suite of actions.

The team worked collaboratively with the Meyer family to refine a suite of restoration and protection actions that achieve the project’s ecological objectives without compromising, and in some cases improving, the Meyer family’s farming operations. Prioritized restoration actions include removing three failing derelict culverts, livestock exclusion fencing to protect the stream and associated wetlands, instream large woody debris placement, and riparian restoration. Final designs and permitting tasks are underway, with construction occurring as soon as summer 2023.

Start Date
Meyer Creek, Deschutes River, Thurston County
Project Type
Completion Date
Restoration, Fish Passage

Goals & Objectives

The project goals are to improve salmonid access to, and enhance the quality and quantity of, limited offchannel spawning and rearing habitat in the upper Deschutes watershed. The type of habitat on site is particularly well-suited for coho salmon summer and winter rearing, but the project will also benefit coastal cutthroat trout and other native fish species.

A secondary project goal is to implement a model habitat restoration and protection project that demonstrates how fish habitat improvement efforts and common farm practices can be compatible, with the intent of encouraging other WRIA 13 landowners to engage in restoration and farm planning processes.


  1. Perform a comprehensive site assessment to identify and prioritize salmon habitat restoration and protection actions; and to identify Meyer’s farm constraints. Fall 2020.
  2. Working with Meyer family, identify preferred suite of restoration, protection, and farm planning actions that maximize benefit to salmon habitat. Preferred actions are likely to include barrier culvert removal, channel naturalization, riparian planting, fencing, and farm-planning. Spring 2021.
  3. Develop preliminary designs, design report, and cost estimates for selected restoration and protection actions. As funding allows, prepare permit applications. Fall 2021.
Primary Habitats Impacted By Project:
Managing Agency/ Organization:
Wetland, Beaver Pond Complex, Estuary
Wild Fish Conservancy
Project Contact:
Budget or Project Cost:
Jamie Glasgow
Funding Sources:
Salmon Federal Projects, Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office
Thurston Conservation District, Land Owner Todd Meyer