TU People: Spotlight Project
Pegleg Falls, Hot Springs Fork, Collawash River, Oregon
Tualatin Valley (OR) Chapter
By Hank Hosfield
In the spring of 2008, USFS Estacada Ranger District biologist Tom Horning suggested that repairing the long-neglected Pegleg Falls fishing ladder on the Hot Springs Fork of the Collawash River might be a good chapter project for us. He said the ladder probably hadn't been maintained for years, and that new boards could be cut and installed by us in an afternoon and could once again make the fish ladder pools deep enough to be passable for fall Chinook and steelhead to prime spawning habitat above the falls. Additionally, Tom mentioned what a gorgeous piece of water this stream is and thought that our crew would enjoy the scene and some post-project work fishing above the falls for wild cutts and rainbows. In August, we finally got a crew together and got to it. The following photos and captions illustrate what those of us who participated consider to be perhaps the most enjoyable project we've done so far.
A view above shows Pegleg Falls and the fish ladder before we really got to work on it. Our task was fairly simple: clear debris from the ladder and install new boards to raise the level of the pools. You can see the empty slots where boards have broken out and the shallow depth of the pools.
The steep and rocky terrain made for tricky footing, but with the nimble agility of mountain goats, we managed to maneuver the timbers into place without falling in. Here a new timber is moved into position.
Here's one of those logs that we miraculously removed without smashing anything being harmlessly guided down the flume of the fish ladder to the pool below.
There's nothing like a battery operated sawsall for making short work of cutting boards to proper length to fit into place. Of course, we drained both batteries and finished using our hand saws.
Some of our more ambitious crew set their sights on removing some sizeable logs that wedged themselves into the ladder during high winter flows. These are the kinds of in-stream debris that threaten to destroy the boards of the fish ladder, so they had to go. This is the kind of task that makes Tom Horning glad he had us sign those accident waiver forms.
Tom Horning stands proudly beside the newly repaired fish ladder, ready for salmon.
Already fish are using the ladder. This young rainbow was photographed underwater near the bottom of one of the lower pools. We saw other fish in the ladder during the day also.
The pool below the falls is a popular summer swimming hole. (It also can hold some larger trout.) Not long after we finished the job, a few local nitwits were actually floating down our newly-constructed fish ladder on inner tubes. Locals aside, this is a beautiful stretch of water.