Johnson Creek Watershed Council Success in North Fork of Johnson Creek

The Johnson Creek Watershed Council (JCWC) developed the North Fork Open Migration project conceived as a multi-partner collaboration aimed at eliminating all seven barriers to fish passage in the North Fork of Johnson Creek, near Gresham Oregon. The JCWC worked with a variety of entities to remove, replace and/or repair culverts that were a barrier to fish passage.

In 2018, JCWC made history becoming the first practitioner in North America to utilize the Flexi Baffle culvert retrofit technology to improve fish passage through culverts that are not planned to be replaced. The Flexi Baffle, developed by ATS Environmental from New Zealand creates step pools in a culvert to improve fish passage. Water velocities are reduced, and water depth increased, all to improve fish passage. ATS began working with their partner SSA Environmental to bring their unique fish passage technologies to North America. Since that time, JCWC has installed Flexi Baffles in two additional culverts.

This story describes the work and success of the Johnson Creek Watershed Council in improving fish passage.

Municipal Water Leader interview with Shane Scott on the Flexi Baffle

Reporters with the Municipal Water Leader magazine interviewed Shane Scott, owner of SSA Environmental, on his experience with the Flexi Baffle. The Flexi baffle is a flexible weir that is installed in culverts to improve fish passage. In this interview they discuss the history of the Flexi Baffle, some current applications and the future of SSA Environmental.


Students at Work!

Another successful Flexi Baffle installation. We worked with the City of Surrey, B.C. and students with the Salmon Habitat Restoration Program (SHaRP) to implement the largest culvert rehabilitation project in North America. A large concrete flume on the Bon Accord Creek, a tributary of the lower Fraser River, has blocked salmon from accessing important salmon spawning habitat for many decades. We worked with City staff to develop a Flexi Baffle installation plan to increase water depth and slow water velocity to create conditions much more conducive to salmon passage.

Flexi Baffles
Bon Accord Creek before Flexi Baffle Installation

SSA Environmental staff then worked to train SHaRP students and project managers to install Flexi Baffles at predetermined intervals through the flume. Students isolated the project area with barrier nets. They then installed Flexi Baffles using concrete drills and wedge anchors.

Students encountered masses of blackberry briars and tough access conditions, but they persevered. And the results speak for themselves!

Students will now monitor fish passage this fall as salmon begin their spawning migration.

Here are the Flexi Baffles after a significant rain event. Note the resting areas between each Flexi Baffle.

Note resting bools between each Flexi Baffle.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game Used Culvert Baffles to Expand Steelhead Habitat

The IDFG used genetic testing to evaluate the success of installing baffles in a culvert on the Potlatch River in the Clearwater Basin. The state installed baffles in a culvert in an effort to help anadromous steelhead access historic spawning habitat. Researchers used genetic monitoring to observe how in just two years the composition of salmonids above the culvert was moving from the resident rainbow trout to the ocean-going life history of steelhead. Steelhead were again able to access historic spawning habitat.