BioBlitz Takes Environmental Snapshot in Advance of Removal of Kellogg Dam in Oregon

Image: National BioBlitz Network.

Removal of the Kellogg Dam in Milwaukie, Ore., which has impeded passage of salmon and other fish for over 167 years, probably won’t happen until about 2027, but groups partnering with NOAA Fisheries are already documenting important environmental information about it.

In mid-May, volunteers fanned out near the mouth of Kellogg Creek for the first-ever creek “bioblitz,” a community science survey in which scientists, naturalists and others document living species within the designated area to create a snapshot in time.

Lower Kellogg Creek is targeted for major restoration work beginning in 2026 or 2027. The bioblitz data is expected to help track how conditions change when the dam is removed and the stream restored from a stagnant, shallow impoundment to a healthy flow connected to the Willamette River, spokesperson Michael Millstein said.

“The dam both impedes fish passage and slows the creek so that it pools and warms to temperatures that are not hospitable for fish and related aquatic species,” NOAA Fisheries’ West Coast regional office he said.

“Removing the dam will let the creek behave like a creek again, with more natural temperatures and dynamics that will make it good habitat for salmon and steelhead,” he explained.

Millstein noted that Kellogg Creek is one of the most prominent tributaries of the Willamette that is blocked, with deteriorating conditions.  Removal of this dam is considered one of the most important restoration opportunities in the watershed to support recovery of Endangered Species Act listed salmon and steelhead in the Willamette, he said.

“We do not have a numerical estimate of the number of fish it will support,” he remarked. “That will depend on how the stream and habitat responds. However, we know from other similar dam removals that anadromous fish typically respond quickly to new habitat opportunities and will find their way into this habitat rapidly.”

The Kellogg Project is a collaborative effort led by the American Rivers nonprofit environmental advocacy organization, the city of Milwaukie, the North Clackamas Watersheds Council and the Oregon Department of Transportation. It centers on removal of the 16-foot high, 22-foot-wide concrete dam, built in 1857 to power a flour mill.

The dam has not been used for any water-related purpose since the 1890s. An aging highway bridge spans the dam, so removing it also requires bridge replacement.

The dam’s dysfunctional fish ladder prevents coho, Chinook, steelhead, lamprey and cutthroat from passage from all but a few days each year when the river stage is high enough. Conservation entities note that removing the dam would allow fish to reach spawning areas in the Kellogg Creek-Mount Scott Creek watershed and open the creek system for foraging and gearing.

Upstream fish barrier removal projects have increased the habitat value of the dam removal project, which is ranked in the top 20% of such projects by the Oregon Department of Fish and Game.