Cottonwood Canyon Exclosure Build
About the place
Cottonwood Canyon State Park is one of Oregon’s newest state parks. Formerly the Murtha Ranch, this 8,000-acre paradise exemplifies the rugged beauty of the John Day River territory with remarkable canyons, tall plateaus and sweeping sage-covered views. Cottonwood is home to bighorn sheep, Pronghorn antelope and elk, and the John Day River running through it is laden with chinook, steelhead and other species of native trout.
View the map.
This trip work involves restoring three miles of riparian habitat along Hay Creek, a steelhead rearing tributary of the John Day. Historic overgrazing, cycles of flood and drought, and recent wildfires have resulted in a creek eroded up to 20 feet below its surrounding floodplains, and very little native plant diversity. The four-year Hay Creek restoration project (now in its second year of implementation) will involve protecting existing vegetation from browse, building beaver dam analogues (BDAs) to provide irrigation to dry floodplains to make them suitable for planting, and installing a large number of diverse, native riparian plant species.
On this trip ONDA volunteers will be building exclosure fences in preparation for the upcoming planting trip. These exclosure locations were chosen based on the soil moisture provided by the adjacent BDAs we built in August, and the suitability for actually being able to dig a hole. Volunteers can rotate as desired through tasks such as hauling materials, pounding fence posts, and wiring fence to posts.
No experience or special equipment necessary, just a willingness to learn. Some tasks will be physically strenuous, but there are plenty of tasks which are not, or can be accomplished at a pace appropriate to your specific abilities.
Trip highlights and challenges
- Navigating steep incised stream banks and potentially variable fall temperatures.
- A major feeling of accomplishment in being part of work which will fundamentally improve three miles of creek and eventually insulate it from the impacts of climate change.
- The relative closeness of the project area to Portland allowing for day-trip access if desired.
- Tuesday, October 22, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.: We will meet at the Hay Creek worksite, spend the day working, then head to the Cottonwood Canyon State Park campsite for the night.
- Wednesday, October 23: 8 a.m. head back out to Hay Creek for the day, then return home in the afternoon.
We will be camping in the luxurious Cottonwood Canyon State Park Campground. There is potable water onsite, bathrooms and kitchen shelters.
This trip has such a wide variety of work, that there is ample opportunity for finding a job that fits with your abilities. In general, however, all tasks will require the ability to navigate uneven ground. Everyone can pace themselves, regulate their own level of effort, switch between various available tasks of varying intensities and rest as needed.
Participants are responsible for their own food, camping gear as well as transportation to and from the trip. Car-pooling will be available. Participants should be prepared to be away from camp all day each of the work days.
ONDA will provide tools for the work, some group camping equipment, and expert leadership. We also provide hot water at morning and evening mealtimes to help expedite meal prep, and yummy espresso coffee in the morning.
An ONDA registration application and medical form are required for this trip. Check the box next to each trip you would like to attend. You only need to fill this form out once per year.
What happens next?
You will receive a confirmation email within 10 working days of submitting your form. The confirmation email will provide information regarding which trips you are on the “participant list” for, and which trips are full, and therefore you have been placed on the “waitlist.”
Six weeks before the start of the trip, the trip leader will send out an RSVP to make sure everyone is still able to participate. Based on RSVPs, open spaces will be backfilled with people from the waitlist.
Three weeks before the trip start date, registered and confirmed participants will receive driving instructions, maps, car-pooling options, and additional information in an email sent by the trip leader
If you have any questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to contact the trip leader.