top of page
Fossil Creek site drone image during OHW event winter 21-22 (1).JPG

Grays River and Fossil Creek Maintenance


This project will maintain previously planted areas at past LCFEG restoration sites along the Grays River and Fossil Creek Tributaries (SRFB Project #18-1411) as well as the Crazy Johnson Chum Channel (SRFB Project #13-1115). The majority of the project is focused on the Fossil Creek site. The original Fossil Creek project protected and enhanced 16.17 acres of riparian habitat and 0.61 miles of instream conditions in Fossil Creek and the Grays River. We installed 1300' of livestock exclusion fencing in the southern riparian zone of Fossil Creek and removed 4.65 acres of mature blackberry stands. This project ensures these blackberries, and other invasive plants, don't return and overtake the previously planted trees. The project is located just upstream of a tidally influenced zone of the Grays River less than a mile upstream of the WA-4 bridge. Construction activities are concentrated in the left bank floodplain of the Grays River in Tier 1 (critical) salmon habitat. LCFEG will continue to engage landowners and community members by providing regular updates at the local Grays River Habitat Enhancement District meetings. 

This project supports long-term floodplain recovery in the lower Grays River floodplain on both private and public lands. LCFEG is working with Columbia Land Trust, DNR State Owned Aquatic Lands, and private landowners to re-establish old-growth stands of Sitka spruce, western red cedar, and black cottonwood. These forests are vital to the recovery of ESA-listed Columbia River Chum and Lower Columbia Chinook, coho, and steelhead. Without mature floodplain forests in dynamic reaches of the river creating semi-stable banks and contributing large wood to the system, the river falls into a hydrology-dominant form that includes high channel migration rates and floodplain isolation due to incision. This project complements other efforts in the watershed being completed by the Cowlitz Indian Tribe in the upper Grays and the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Conservation District in the lower Grays. Historically, the confluence reaches of Fossil Creek and Crazy Johnson Creeks would have been dynamic areas filled with beaver ponds and vast wood accumulations. Past forest practices harvested the old-growth western red cedar, Sitka spruce, and black cottonwood from the floodplain and simplified the streams. With willing landowners, we can start the slow recovery of these floodplain forests by opportunistically replanting and controlling noxious weeds. This project will entail the maintenance of previously completed riparian projects. Plants grow quickly in the Grays watershed. As such, the aggressive, non-native blackberries will smother our recently installed native vegetation unless controlled. The landowners are reluctant to allow the use of herbicide due to the proximity to their cattle. So, the blackberries will need to be controlled manually. This elongates the amount of time it takes to knock back these plants. Anticipating this, LCFEG grew most of the plants for two years in a nursery before installation, giving them a boost in height and root structure that will make them more competitive and easier to see during maintenance activities.

Target Species 


Partners | Consultants


Lower Columbia Chinook, coho, chum, and steelhead

16.17 acres of floodplain treated, 0.61 miles of stream treated

Lower Columbia Land Trust, WA DNR

WA State RCO SRFB #(22-1073) $79,343

bottom of page