Buffalo Flats Floodplain Restoration

The Buffalo Flats Floodplain Restoration project is located east and adjacent to the city of Union, Oregon

and within the Catherine Creek Watershed. The Project Area includes approximately 240 acres of the

historic floodplain of Catherine Creek and Little Creek as they enter the Grande Ronde Valley. The

proposed project area is in private ownership and has been in agricultural operations over the last

century. The project is currently in the initial planning and feasibility determination phase.

Union Soil and Water Conservation District (USWCD) is the local project sponsor and is partnering with other conservation partners to provide planning and restoration actions aimed at restoring functional floodplain and stream conditions while supporting a successful ranching operation.

We recognize the complexity of the natural river system and the need to minimize potential for impacts
from actions on nearby areas, and will carefully consider the ramifications of design alternatives on the
local community. The project will be designed to not increase the risk of flood damage or flood water elevations from the existing conditions on neighboring properties and structures and will maintain the utility of existing infrastructure.

The combination of restoration actions will be designed to meet the following project goals:

  • En
  • 1.   Enhance and restore aquatic habitat conditions and increase habitat diversity and 
  •          complexity for salmonids;
  • 2.   Improve water quality conditions (temperature and sediment) for salmonids, other native fish,                and wildlife;
  • 3.   Promote conditions for restoring ecological function and improving soil health within the                       project area;
  • 4.   Improve riparian corridor and floodplain vegetative diversity and function within the project                 area;
  • 5.   Reconnect both Catherine Creek and Little Creek with their associated floodplains and
  •          expand quality floodplain habitat availability for salmonids within the project boundaries;
  • 6.   Increase streambank and floodplain storage of water and ice; increasing the
  •          potential for attenuating flows and reducing ice formation within the project reach.

For more information, contact Jim Webster, USWCD.

Conservation Partners

This project is a partnership between Union Soil and Water Conservation District (USWCD), 

Bureau of Reclamation (Reclamation), Grande Ronde Model Watershed (GRMW), and the primary

landowner, Buffalo Peak Land and Livestock. Additional team members inculde Trout Unlimited (TU), and

Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR).

Funding partners include Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) and Oregon Watershed Enhancement

Board (OWEB). The partnership is also collaborating with Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT)

and Union County Roads Department to explore options for changing and improving road alignments

within the project area.

The table below describes the expected activities for each design milestone by functional area (design,

funding, permitting, public outreach):

Project Design Milestones

Little Creek is in the design phase and further along in the planning process; Catherine Creek is still in the feasibility determination phase. Additionally, the District is working with water users, irrigators and landowners downstream of the Buffalo Flats Project area to implements the construction of new diversion structures and fish ladders on Little Creek. This concurrent project will update water delivery systems, decrease flood risk through the town of Union and also provide passage for all native aquatic species into the Buffalo Flats Project area.

Artists rendition of future conditions along  lower Little Creek resulting from the Buffalo Flats Flooplain Restoration Project

Project Overview