The Calapooia Watershed Council is taking on two projects close to Albany’s Talking Water Gardens at 577 Waverly Drive N.E., near Simpson Park.
This winter, native vegetation will be planted in the area’s floodplain. Next summer, the nearby Cox Creek Dam will be removed.
It will take a week or two to remove the dam, said Denise Hoffert-Hay, the project manager for Confluence Consulting in Albany.
Removal of the dam will improve fish habitat.
Fish in Cox Creek include Chinook salmon, winter steelhead, lamprey, dace, sand roller, large-scale sucker, northern pike minnow, redside shiners and sculpin.
Cox Creek and the Willamette River meet in that area and in a related system of oxbow lakes.
These connected areas will allow fish to take refuge from the high, strong winter flows of the Willamette. The fish can rest, forage and spawn. The areas also will serve as nurseries for juvenile fish.
The area to be planted is at a higher elevation from the creek channel, said Chris Bailey, the city’s director of operations.
Although there will be an initial release of water as the pool behind the dam is drained, the flow in Cox Creek shouldn’t be appreciably higher once the dam is gone, she said.
“The dam impounds a relatively small amount of water, and the release from Waverly Lake into the creek is still controlled by the outfall structure at the lake,” Bailey said.
The dam site is owned by ATI Wah Chang. The dam was built so the former Nebergall meat-packing plant could get the water it needed to run its operation.
Vegetation in that area is primarily nonnative species, including reed canary grass, Himalayan blackberry and English ivy.
Last summer, the area was cleared with flail mowing. Native species to be planted include Oregon ash, Oregon grape, ninebark, cottonwood, swamp rose, spirea and snowberry.
Some plants were placed in the spring of 2012 in the area adjacent to the dam along the sidewalk parallel to Cox Creek, Hoffert-Hay said.
“Any areas disturbed will be revegetated following the removal of the dam,” she said.
The restoration projects are listed as high priorities in the 2011 Calapooia-Albany Assessment and Project Implementation Plan. The plan was developed with input from the city, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Benton County Soil and Water Conservation District, Friends of East Thornton Lake Natural Area, Greenbelt Land Trust, ATI and private landowners.