STEP -- Projects at Rhododendron Meadow


Henry Creek - Rhododendron Meadow


Henry Creek Culvert



"Rhododendron Meadow" is a major wetland and wildlife habitat that is comprised of 14.5 acres in the Village of Rhododendron. Situated between East U.S. Highway 26 and East Henry Creek Avenue, and including Henry Creek, Little Henry Creek, and Meadow Creek, this natural area currently makes up the Cascade Geographic Society's 18-acre "Sanctuary Lands Program". This program protects sensitive resources ranging from natural to historical and cultural resources.

For many months the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) has been working with the Cascade Geographic Society for this first phase of what could be a number of fish enhancement projects. Natural structures comprised of logs and root wads will be placed in Henry Creek to enhance habitat for Salmon, Steelhead, Sea-Run Trout, and Resident Trout populations.

Assisted with money secured from the ODFW, and armed with the mandatory permits, work will begin on Thursday, August 19th, and Friday, August 20th. The "Rhododendron Meadow" fish enhancement work is probably the most important project of its kind to take place in the Sandy River Basin this summer. TOP



Henry Creek is a major fish-bearing stream in the Mount Hood Area that is critical for the threatened and endangered Salmon and Steelhead. The stream passes through the Cascade Geographic Society's Rhododendron Meadow, a sanctuary for fish and wildlife, as well as historical and cultural resources. However, many years ago, a culvert that replaced a bridge on East Henry Creek Loop blocked the majority of upstream passage for fish. The once natural stair-stepping streambed now had a waterfall that was impossible for most fish to jump into. And, those that did manage such a leap were usually washed back down through the slick-bottomed culvert due to the velocity of the water. For over thirty-five years, fish passage was impeded by the culvert with no one knowing just what to do. Finally, Michael P. Jones, the curator of Cascade Geographic Society, decided to do something about the problem. He and other volunteers installed several logs below the culvert and created a jump pool. This allows anadromous fish, such as Coho and Chinook Salmon, and Steelhead, to get upstream to critical spawning habitats. The Great Winter Flood of 1996, however, washed some of the jump-pool components away. Divers Ken Lyttle of Milwaukie, and Dick Zschoche of Portland, however, came to the rescue. They donned their wetsuits, dove into the cold water of Henry Creek, and spent several hours doing the necessary repairs to allow fish to once again negotiate the culvert. The Henry Creek Fish Passage Project survived the raging waters of the 1997 Winter Flood, but not the one in 1998. With upstream passage now impeded for the Winter Steelhead who were supposed to begin their upstream migration, once again, Ken and Dick arrived on the scene. The water was even colder, but neither one hesitated. They dove in and began a long and tiring ordeal to help the fish maneuver the difficult culvert in order to get upstream. Ken and Dick were assisted by other volunteers who secured the necessary emergency permits, supplies, etc. These included: Michael P. Jones, Herb Forbes, and Jim Jones, as well as two individuals with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife -- Al Martin, a habitat biologist, and Dick Caldwell, the Salmon Trout Enhancement biologist. The Cascade Geographic Society undertakes fish projects on an on-going basis. If you would like to volunteer your labor, or contribute tools and supplies, please CONTACT US




HENRY CREEK CULVERT MAY TURN INTO A COVERED BRIDGE: The culvert on Henry Creek, located in the Village of Rhododendron, is officially an orphan. Installed on East Henry Creek Avenue after a wooden bridge was removed, it has been a major source of headaches to biologists and fish conservationists, not to mention to the Salmon and Steelhead whose migration passage it blocked and interfered with for some forty years. However, none of the agencies who supposedly installed it are claiming responsibility. Neither the Clackamas County Road Department, which plows Henry Creek Avenue during the Winter snows, nor the U.S. Forest Service, who administers adjacent land for the public, claim to have any knowledge for installing it or maintaining it. Due to the listing of several Salmon and Steelhead species, as governmental entities they are required to maintain passage for fish. However, nearly a decade ago the Cascade Geographic Society did respond to the fish passage problems associated with the culvert, and installed and maintained a project to facilitate fish passage. In addition, the organization has conducted enhancement for downstream migration at this same location.

Recently the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife identified culverts in the Sandy River Basin that were considered problems for anadromous fish. And, although the Henry Creek Culvert Fish Passage Project is currently functioning, the agency has given it a "priority" status. Future major flooding could cause problems and require additional repairs.

With no governmental entity claiming any ownership or maintenance responsibility for the Henry Creek culvert, there is a strong likelihood of funding being available to improve on fish passage at this site. Money could be used for conducting some additional engineering to help improve on the Cascade Geographic Society's Henry Creek Culvert Fish Passage Project, as well as for some in-stream modifications.

However, just before we went to press, the future of the Henry Creek culvert took an interesting twist. After careful study of Henry Creek, it was determined that the best things for fish and wildlife was to pull out the culvert and replace it with a bridge. Anything that we were to do to enhance the culvert would accommodate adult anadromous fish only, but not juveniles, which means that the stream would still be blocked to young endangered Steelhead and Salmon. In addition, the culvert would also continue blocking the migration of wildlife in and out of Rhododendron Meadow and to other habitat, which would not be the case with a bridge.

So the plan now is to have Clackamas County construct a bridge over Henry Creek, but not your run-of-the-mill bridge; a covered one! Cascade Geographic Society would work as a partner and, if need be, secure any extra funds through a federal Community Development grant. The return of a covered bridge would be historically correct for the Mount Hood Area, which lost all of its covered bridges many decades ago. TOP