Odell Creek Dam Removal and Stream Restoration
In summer of 2016, the HRWG, in partnership with Larry and Linda Hilton, removed the Odell Dam, restoring year-round fish passage to approximately 5 miles of winter steelhead habitat in Odell Creek. Unlike the recent Powerdale and Condit Dam removals, this project required restoration of the stream channel after the dam was removed. This included diverting the stream through a bypass pipe during the 3-month construction period and removing over 2,500 cubic yards (~210 dump truck loads) of sediment that had accumulated behind the dam. Once the new channel area was excavated, large boulders and cobbles were placed to create the backbone of the new channel, and smaller cobbles, gravel, and sand were placed on top to form a natural streambed. Large wood was placed along the edge of the channel to improve fish habitat and protect 750 newly planted trees and shrubs from high streamflows. Lastly, a concrete vault with a fish screen was installed at the edge of the channel to replace the former irrigation diversion provided by the dam.
The Odell Creek Dam was built by Fred and Wilma Plog near the mouth of Odell Creek in 1985. It was operated as a private hydroelectric power-generating facility until 2010, at which time the Oregon Water Resources permit expired. To renew the permit, the dam needed to meet current fish passage and screening standards. However, an economic evaluation determined that upgrading the fish ladder and screen would cost more than future net power revenues would generate. Thus in 2013, the dam operator and landowner agreed to pursue dam removal. Funding for this $450,000 project was provided by the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs.