Success Stories

Creative Collaboration: Adopt-A-Greenway Implementation Plan

Planting for Success! Plant Native Species in Fall or Late Winter/Early Spring

Cold, clear water is vital to the survival of native salmonids and other aquatic species in our local streams and the Rogue River. Local restoration practitioners incorporate multiple strategies to improve water quality and stream temperature including restoring stream banks with native trees and shrubs in this area called the riparian zone. Well-established native trees and shrubs hold soil in place preventing erosion and contributing to healthy stream banks. Providing shade cover, reducing stream temperature, and supplying habitat and food for animals and birds are among the benefits of trees and shrubs.

Water in streams in early spring may look pristine and well-suited for salmonids and other fish and aquatic species. However, water quality declines as outside temperatures warm moving into summer, and flows in streams begin to diminish as rain, snowmelt, and spring flows are reduced. In addition, water in the region is used for irrigating residential lawns and agriculture, which also reduces the amount of flow. Stream temperatures are higher in areas lacking a healthy, diverse riparian cover. What can we do to help? Plant native riparian trees and shrubs!

Native planting occurring along West Fork Jones Creek. Credit: Amie Siedlecki, RVCOG

Timing is critical for the successful planting of native trees and plant species. If they are planted too late or too early in the season, they will be impacted by the extreme heat and drought conditions we see annually. As a result, we recommend planting in the fall (ideally), or in late winter or early spring.

Examples of suitable riparian trees and shrubs include, but are not limited to:

• Big Leaf Maple (Acer macrophyllum)

• Oregon Ash (Fraxinus latifolia)

• Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana)

• Pacific Willow (Salix lucida)

• Hawthorn (Crataegus, spp.)

• Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium)

• Pacific Ninebark (Physocarpus capitatus)

• Douglas Spirea (Spiraea douglasii)

• Ponderosa Pine (Pinus ponderosa)

These plants and others comprise the list of frequently planted species along Bear Creek. Recommendations and species lists can be found at,, or by contacting Bear Creek Restoration Initiative (BCRI) members.

 BCRI members have been using many of the species in the Bear Creek Watershed before and following the devastating Almeda Fire. Well-established native riparian trees and shrubs do not burn as hot as invasive species like the Himalayan blackberry during a wildfire. In addition, we have seen fires in restored and managed areas (e.g., The Freshwater Trust project in Talent) during the Almeda Fire keep to the ground instead of moving into the canopy.  As a result, defensible space was easier to maintain, and the fires were easier to control and extinguish.

Overall, planting for success means planting native species, and planting in fall, or in late winter, or early spring!

Bear Creek Restoration Initiative (BCRI)

Riparian restoration along Bear Creek and its tributaries is not new and has been ongoing for several decades. In early 2019, the Rogue Valley Council of Governments convened a forum of interested organizations focused on restoring the Bear Creek riparian corridor as a unit by identifying a list of riparian restoration projects along Bear Creek and its tributaries. Through those discussions, the need for a meaningful dialogue to describe appropriate restoration actions along an urbanized stream became obvious across multiple sectors. We had to find common ground that provided a balance between a truly “wild” riparian area with abundant native vegetation and a “managed” riparian area that provided the wild components but accommodates public safety concerns, such as fire and fuel reduction, along with social concerns, including the unsheltered population living along the creek. The Bear Creek Restoration Initiative (BCRI) is a renewed effort that takes traditional restoration perspectives and adds a social and public safety component to the mix to address the issues facing Bear Creek, and many of the Stream Smart Partners participate as part of the Initiative.

For more information on the Initiative.

Salmon Watch

The Salmon Watch Program was established in 1993 by Oregon Trout, and locally, the program ran from approximately 1993-2008 with support from the Freshwater Trust, Bear Creek Watershed Education Partners, and the Jefferson Nature Center. In spring of 2014, after a 5-year hiatus, the Rogue Valley Council of Governments, with support from the local communities in the Bear Creek Watershed as part of their Clean Water Act funding, and with grant funding from the Carpenter Foundation, Jackson Soil and Water Conservation District, and Meyer Memorial Trust, were able to bring it back starting in the spring of 2014 and run it every fall (and some springs) through the present.

Most Recent Year (Fall 2022)

That’s a wrap! Another successful Salmon Watch season has ended. Thanks to all of the students and volunteers who made this year great. The program brought over 1,200 students to sites along the Rogue River, Bear Creek, and other streams. We even managed to have a few firsts, including a lamprey caught in the macroinvertebrate session at TouVelle State Park. Click on the image below for more details on the program.

Click here to visit our Salmon Watch page!

Regional Water Quality Monitoring Program (Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Monitoring) - Streams, Storm Drains, and the Rogue River

In 1992, local communities in Bear Creek began a comprehensive monitoring program as part of their implementation actions under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The long term goal of the CWA is to make all waters fishable and swimmable. The monitoring program is conducted by RVCOG, and streams and storm drains throughout the watershed are monitored. The data collected is used to evaluate stream health, long term trends, any impacts of implementation (improvement) efforts, and for education and outreach. The program is a unique collaborative effort and provides a robust set of data that shows changes over time in the Bear Creek Watershed.

For more information on the program click here.

Creek Safety Watch Advisories

During the summer months and as part of the Regional Monitoring Program, Stream Smart partners publish information regarding the health of streams based on monthly sampling results. While ONLY ADVISORY, the notices provide information to the public regarding where streams are monitored and when sampling results exceed water quality standards. The Stream Smart program is also working to increase awareness of the where monitoring is being conducted, what the data is showing, and where to get more information.

Community Clean-Ups

Stream Smart partners provide funding, coordination, and support for clean-ups in the Bear Creek watershed and, more recently, in the Rogue Basin as a whole.

Bear Creek: Partnership with Bear Creek Stewards, SOLVE, as well as many other organizations. Happens each year in April and September.

Rogue Basin: Partnership with the Josephine County Solid Waste Agency, SOLVE, as well as many other organizations, for the Rogue River Clean-Up & Let's Pull Together! event. Happens on the third Saturday in May.

For more information, click here.

Jones Creek Planting

Partnership is a key component for implementing successful projects and we are lucky to be in an area that has a long history of collaboration and trust. A recent example is in the successful completion of a project along West Fork Jones Creek, a tributary to the Rogue River in Josephine County.

A small area along the creek was recently cleared of Himalayan blackberries and needed to be replanted. All local resources were exhausted when the project was presented to the Stream Smart team. Through various partners, we were able to piece together the project to get coordination time, materials, and labor donated to complete the project.

Project Coordination -  Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and Rogue Valley Council of Governments

Materials - Applegate Partnership and Watershed Council, The Freshwater Trust, and the Rogue River Watershed Council

Labor - Middle Rogue Steelheaders

Technical Assistance - Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

Volunteer Programs - Willow Staking and Trash Clean-Up

Stream Smart partners collaborate to offer a number of different programs for community members to volunteer and help us protect and restore local creeks and rivers.