Deep Creek and Crazy Creek Habitat Work

Up high in the Ochoco Mountains of Central Oregon are the headwaters of the Crooked River, the streams of Deep Creek and Crazy Creek, and a feisty and beautiful population of Columbia Basin redband trout. With a name like Crazy Creek, you might wonder why Orvis and Trout Unlimited (TU) are working to restore this small stream on the dry side of Oregon.  Historically, the Deep Creek drainage was full of old-growth forests, lush meadows, and spring-fed streams full of trout. Unfortunately, after more than 100 years of grazing, logging, and road building, Deep Creek and the upper Crooked River have been used and abused, and the trout are left struggling to survive. TU has partnered with Ochoco National Forest to help restore priority reaches within Deep Creek and build awareness of the importance of these headwater streams and the native trout that are adapted to this rugged landscape. One of the key coldwater tributaries is Crazy Creek, which provides more than seven miles of diverse spawning and rearing habitat, however an old, impassable culvert has blocked access to this important stream. Crazy Creek meets Deep Creek approximately three and a half miles above the Wild and Scenic North Fork of the Crooked River.

TU and Orvis helped remove the culvert barrier as part of a larger effort to restore habitat for native redband trout in the upper Crooked River drainage. The impassable culvert located at the confluence of Deep and Crazy Creeks fragmented habitat and blocked fish movements between two important tributaries. Now, through funding from Orvis, the Western Native Trout Initiative, the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, and the Forest Service, the old culvert has been removed and replaced with a new bottomless-arch culvert that simulates the natural streambed. With the new culvert, Crazy Creek can flow freely as a natural stream below the road, and redbands and other aquatic organisms can move up and downstream as the flashy flow of this stream allows.

The Deep Creek watershed supports a robust population of likely the most genetically pure redbands in the Crooked River Drainage, and Crazy Creek provides some of the best coldwater refuge in the lower watershed for those fish when summer stream temperatures get too warm in neighboring creeks. Crazy Creek lies in a steep, walled canyon with dense riparian vegetation, stable stream banks, high habitat complexity (including large woody debris and pools) and provides cool water to Deep Creek.