Juniper Reservoir Spillway

Reuniting a cold-water creek system

About the Project

Muddy Creek flows from its headwaters in Oregon’s Fremont-Winema National Forest southwest to Cottonwood Creek, one of Goose Lakes’ largest tributary streams. Muddy Creek is a 12-mile system, separated by Juniper Reservoir, built in 1965 to serve the region’s irrigation, flood control, and recreation needs.

Habitat above the reservoir supports a viable fishery for native fish species, but the lower system is degraded by instream flow structures including a concrete spillway, two diversion dams, and an undersized culvert built by a private landowner to divert irrigation water for ranch purposes and reduce flooding. This infrastructure has degraded the river channel, drawn down the groundwater table and blocked fish passage, isolating aquatic species as distinct populations above and below the reservoir, except during high spring and early summer flows when the reservoir spills into lower Muddy Creek. Despite cyclical drought conditions, aquatic species have survived in the reservoir due to the cold mountain springs that drain into it from the upper Muddy Creek system.

The Lake County Umbrella Watershed Council is working with landowners to reconnect the upper and lower portions of Muddy Creek. In 2021, the Council conducted work improving 1.5 miles of stream habitat below the reservoir. The next phase of the project will remove the Juniper Reservoir spillway and replace it with a roughened channel fishway to provide passage for native fish species to access the entire length of the creek for spawning, rearing, and refuge.

FACTS AT A GLANCE
Owner: private Landowner
Size: 2 feet high by 12 feet wide
Project Cost: $867,912
ORF Investment: filled gap in inflated project costs to ensure project stayed on schedule for construction in 2023
Miles Opened: 6
Fish: federally designated species of concern Goose Lake red band trout, Goose Lake lamprey, Goose Lake sucker, and the California pit roach
Status: removal completed in December 2023


OUTCOMES
  • Open six miles of thermal refugia habitat
  • Reconnect a divided system providing fish passage to spawning, and rearing habitat
  • Improve stream stability
  • Modernize irrigation infrastructure
  • Reduce maintenance required by the water user in high spring flow conditions and avoids flood damage and debris
  • Support a larger effort to restore the lower reach of Muddy Creek
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Project Partners

Landowner

Western Native Trout Initiative

 

Lake County Umbrella Watershed Council

Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board

Ducks Unlimited

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service