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Wagner Creek SIA

Wagner Creek SIA

The Wagner Creek SIA, selected in 2015, included properties within the Lower Wagner Creek Sub-Watershed of the Bear Creek Watershed in Jackson County.

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Overview Map of Wagner Creek SIA Location & Wagner Creek Watershed Boundary.

Wagner Creek SIA contains approximately 1,000 total agricultural acres, consisting primarily of vineyards, orchards, and small acreage agriculture. Primary water quality concerns in this watershed include temperature and nutrients.

Types of projects completed in the Wager Creek SIA to address these water quality concerns include: Irrigation Improvement, Heavy Use Area Protection, Drainage Improvement, Manure Management, Riparian Restoration, and Fish Passage Barrier Removal.

Partners involved on the Wagner Creek SIA include: JSWCD, RRWC, ODA, OWEB, and many others.

Interested in specific project examples or before and after photos from our past SIA projects?
Keep reading about the Wagner Creek SIA below, and check out the Neil Creek SIA page for more!

Wagner Creek SIA Success Stories & Project Photos

Check back soon for project photos!

Wagner Creek SIA Project #1

Type of Project: Heavy use area protection, manure storage, subsurface drainage

Lead Organization & Staff: Jackson SWCD: Clint Nichols, Jenna Sanford

Partner: Rogue River Watershed Council

Cost: $27,205

Funders: Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Jackson SWCD, landowner

Timeline: Planning & Development: February 2016 – September 2016
                  Implementation: September 2016 – September 2017

Problem: The landowner owns one acre of rural property within the Wagner Creek watershed. She uses the western half-acre of the property to board two horses. This property came under the scrutiny of Oregon Department of Agriculture because of apparent bare ground visible from aerial photos. The western half of the property lies within a drainage area that moves stormwater from impervious surfaces south of her property to a drainage area to the north along Anderson Creek Road, eventually discharging into Wagner Creek. Additionally, a neighbor’s pond along the south fence leaks water onto her property, creating a year-round source of runoff. Other properties within this drainage area have pipes to move water through the area without saturating the ground; this property does not have such a pipe. Therefore, stormwater diverted through the culvert above completely saturated most of the field, making plant establishment and manure management impossible. The stormwater would eventually leave the property, potentially carrying with it excess sediment from the bare ground and bacteria from the manure left in the field, making its way to Wagner Creek where these pollutants were degrading water quality for fish and human uses. These pasture conditions also created a health hazard for the horses as manure mixed with mud creating a breeding ground for parasites and poor conditions for healthy hooves. Buttercup (Ranunculus sp.), a plant poisonous to horses, dominated the drainage area due to lack of competing vegetation.

Project Description: We installed a French drain to collect stormwater where it enters the property and diverted it into a pipe beneath the pasture to keep the soils dry. A heavy use area was created for the horses for times of wet weather. Moving horses off wet pastures prevents damage due to hoof traffic. We also built a manure storage facility to allow the landowner to collect the manure off the heavy use area and pasture and store it where it won’t create the potential for water quality degradation. Finally, we planted the pasture with suitable perennial forage that will stabilize the soil and allow the horses to pasture without creating an erosion or water quality concern.

Ecologic Impact: Improved water quality in Wagner Creek; reduced pasture soil erosion.

Economic Impact: Improved conditions for horse health; reduced feed costs for horses.



Wagner Creek SIA Project #2

Type of Project: Fish passage barrier removal

Lead Organization & Staff: Rogue River Watershed Council: Brian Barr, Alexis Larsen

Partner: Beeson-Robison Ditch Association

Cost: $120,000

Funders: Jackson Soil & Water Conservation District, Middle Rogue Steelheaders, Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Pacific Power Blue Sky Fund/The Freshwater Trust, Patagonia Environmental Grants, Resources Legacy Fund, Rogue Basin Partnership, Rogue Flyfishers, Schwemm Family Foundation, Southern Oregon Flyfishers, Trout & Salmon Foundation, WaterWatch of Oregon

Timeline: Planning & Development: 2014 – August 2017
                  Implementation: September 14 – October 4, 2017
                  Planting: March 2018

Problem: Wagner Creek is one of the most valuable fish-bearing streams in the Bear Creek watershed. Currently, summer and winter steelhead are known to use Wagner Creek and there is strong potential for Coho Salmon to use the creek as well. The Beeson- Robison dam, a 5.5-foot-tall concrete structure, presented a complete barrier to juvenile fish and prevented upstream migration of fish in most flow conditions. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife had listed this dam as a high-priority fish passage barrier in the Rogue River Basin. Removal of this dam would improve the ability of adult and juvenile steelhead, and potentially adult and juvenile Coho Salmon, to access approximately three miles of upstream habitat for cool water summer refuge and spawning during irrigation season.

Project Description: In September 2017, on-ground work was begun to remove Beeson- Robison Dam. Rogue River Watershed Council hired local contractor Todd Marthoski of M&M Services, LLC to complete the project. The dam was removed with heavy equipment in a few hours on September 28, 2017. Within 4 days, a new 115-foot-long roughened channel, which mimicked a natural streambed while providing fish passage, was installed. At the top end of the channel, rocks were strategically placed to direct stream water into a new intake system for providing irrigation water to 18 irrigators on the Beeson-Robison Ditch. The new intake system was installed approximately 80 feet upstream from the dam site. New pipe was installed and connected to the existing irrigation ditch structure and fish screen. In March 2018, 50 native shrubs were planted in the riparian area to provide shade for cooling the water.

Ecologic impact: Improved fish passage; improved juvenile survival during hot summer months; three miles of spawning habitat opened up.

Economic impact: Efficient irrigation management; reduced maintenance labor.


Wagner Creek SIA Project #3

Type of Project: Streamside forest restoration

Lead Organization & Staff: Rogue River Watershed Council: Sarah Sauter

Partners: Jackson SWCD, Plant Oregon, City of Talent, and seven neighbors

Cost: $136,515 ($124,865 cash and $11,650 in-kind labor)

Funders: Oregon Department of Agriculture, Jackson SWCD, Patagonia Environmental Grants, Schwemm Family Foundation, Ashland Garden Club

Timeline: October 2015 - May 2018 (Plant maintenance scheduled through 2022)

Problem: The Wagner Creek valley is a highly productive agricultural area that is rapidly being converted from orchards to small acreage rural residential agriculture. Some management practices have produced conditions (narrow strips of native riparian vegetation, extensive areas of Himalayan blackberries, bare ground, manure concentration) that have reduced water quality and degraded fish habitat in Wagner Creek. Water quality limitations affecting native fish species such as steelhead and Coho Salmon include temperature, bacteria, nutrients, and dissolved oxygen. The Oregon Department of Agriculture recently identified the Wagner Creek watershed as a Strategic Implementation Area (SIA) for water quality concerns related to small acreage agriculture and vineyards.

Project Description: This streamside forest restoration project addressed concerns at eight properties along Wagner Creek, including two that Oregon Department of Agriculture ranked as being of “significant concern.” Rogue River Watershed Council contracted Plant Oregon, a local nursery, to remove approximately 12 acres of blackberries along a 0.6-mile reach of Wagner Creek. Plant Oregon employed a combination of mechanical, hand, and herbicide treatments. Disturbed areas were protected with quick-growing annual grasses. They installed approximately 9,000 native trees and shrubs at a density of 747 plants/acre. They also installed approximately 700 willow stakes to stabilize steep banks. Most of the plant plugs were installed with a tractor, supplemented by hand-planting in steep areas close to the bank. Organic fertilizer was applied to each plant, along with a Vis-Pore plastic mulch and bamboo stake for protection from weeds and animals. A drip irrigation system was installed beneath the Vis-Pore mulch. The shared irrigation system utilizes landowner water rights from two ditch systems (Beeson-Robison and Talent Irrigation Ditch), three pumps, two bulges, and a gravity-fed pipe to provide reliable irrigation water to the project. We also procured fencing materials so the landowner could install fencing to keep livestock out of the creek on this particular property.

Ecologic Impact: Improved water quality, improved fish habitat

Economic Impact: Awarded $123,420 in local contracts



Wagner Creek SIA Project #4

Type of Project: Fish passage barrier removal, irrigation conversion

Lead Organization & Staff: Jackson SWCD: Paul DeMaggio, Clint Nichols, Jenna Sanford

Partner: Rogue River Watershed Council

Cost: $57,349

Funders: Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Jackson SWCD

Timeline: Planning & Development: May 2015 – May 2017
                  Implementation: June 2018 – September 2018

Problem: The landowner owns 17 acres on Wagner Creek with water rights from the creek. A push-up dam on Wagner Creek 3,300 feet upstream of the property diverted water into an open ditch that travels across several other properties before ending in a large pond on the property. This pond has been historically used to flood irrigate a three- acre hay field. During the summer, the dam created a fish passage barrier to summering steelhead, and in the winter, if the dam stayed in place, presented a barrier to other salmonid species as well. Flood irrigation practices can lose more than half of the water diverted to the field for irrigation, and in this case, that runoff re-entered Wagner Creek, carrying with it whatever washed off the fields. Likely contaminants included bacteria from manure, fertilizers and pesticides, and sediment from eroding soils. Runoff water has higher temperatures than in-stream water, and increased water temperatures can create unlivable conditions for fish and lead to harmful algal blooms in the summer. The 3,300 feet of open ditch presumably lost water to evaporation, transpiration, and seepage, and was difficult to maintain given the number of other properties the ditch crosses. The lack of irrigation infrastructure limited the ability of the landowner to irrigate the rest of her property, limiting crop production.

Project Description: Two pumping stations were installed on the landowner’s property to remove the need for building and maintaining a push-up dam further upstream. This removed a fish passage barrier and also allowed the landowner to put her water right to beneficial use. We also developed a series of irrigation systems to provide water to several different crop types and replace the existing dependence on flood irrigation. This removed the potential for water quality impairment by eliminating return flows to Wagner Creek, and allows the landowner to provide water to her entire property to grow crops and improve the soil.

Ecologic Impact: Improved fish passage; improved water quality in Wagner Creek; reduced erosion in crop fields.

Economic Impact: Improved crop production; reduced maintenance labor; efficient use of irrigation water.