Karnowsky Creek

Karnowsky Creek Restoration Project

Whole Valley (Stage 0) Restoration


Re-meandering a valley-bottom stream for improved wetland habitat.

Karnowsky Creek was the predecessor to the Fivemile-Bell project. The stream flows into the Siuslaw River Estuary, just nine miles from the Pacific Ocean. In the late 1800s this valley was home to pioneers who cleared trees from the valley floor, farmed and tended livestock, hunted wildlife, and harvested large cedar trees to build homes and barns. Grandchildren of the first settlers testify that a steam locomotive once made its way up through the valley to transport logs harvested from the hill slopes. They speak of harsh winters, frequent floods and the hard work it took to control the stream in their valley. The total area of Karnowsky Creek watershed is 1800 acres and is comprised of 1716 acres of steep forested hillsides and 93 acres of flat valley bottom pasture.


In 2001, Forest Service and SWC began designing a project that would attempt to restore historic hydrology, aquatic resource populations, and native plant communities within the valley. With the addition of the Siuslaw Soil and Water Conservation District, the team began construction of a new, meandering channel and helicopter placement of whole logs began in 2002-03. The goals of the project were to restore natural meander geometry, raise the water table and extent of associated wetlands, restore riparian plant communities, encourage floodplain connection, and add large wood to the channel and valley floor. Most of the restoration in the Karnowsky valley ended in 2008 when the last release was completed on riparian plantings.