National Forest Foundation | Umpqua National Forest

Umpqua National Forest

On the Umpqua National Forest, our work is hyperlocal and responsive to the needs of the Forest Service and the community. Our partnership with the Umpqua National Forest began in earnest in August 2020 when we hired our Umpqua Restoration Program Coordinator to support strategic planning, partnership coordination, fundraising, and project management.

Our initial focus on the Umpqua National Forest was to facilitate Forest Service staff and partners to create a strategic plan for restoration of the North Umpqua Watershed. Together with the Umpqua National Forest and Roseburg District Bureau of Land Management, we released the North Umpqua Watershed Holistic Restoration Strategy in March 2022 and are now working on fundraising for and implementing projects identified in the strategy.

Our partnership with the Umpqua National Forest spans all resource areas from instream restoration and wildlife habitat to sustainable recreation and wildfire recovery. The Forest provides key funding and support to make our work on the Umpqua happen. Read on to see examples of how we work on the Umpqua.

Holistic Watershed Restoration

With the Umpqua National Forest’s location at the transition between the wet western Oregon climate and the dry southern Oregon climate, vegetation reflects characteristics of both of those regions. Lush, green conifer-dominated forests can be found near Oregon white oak, sugar pine, and ponderosa pine. Mixed in throughout the landscape are rare and endemic plants perfectly suited to this vegetation transition zone. A broad suite of native fish species calls this river home, from threatened Coho salmon to the recently rediscovered Umpqua chub. Chinook salmon, steelhead trout, coastal cutthroat trout, Pacific lamprey, and pikeminnow also make the North Umpqua River and tributaries their home. While the North Umpqua Watershed is an incredible place, that does not preclude the need for habitat restoration and climate adaptation.

Copeland Creek Watershed Protection

Copeland Creek Watershed has miles of forest roads that are no longer in use, many of which are at risk of failing and sending large sediment inputs into Copeland Creek and the North Umpqua River. When sediment enters these streams, turbidity increases, affecting fish's ability to feed, clogging spawning gravels, and impacting water quality for human communities. To protect fish habitat and water quality, we are decommissioning several miles of roads, removing plugged culverts, and improving drainage. In 2022 we decommissioned two miles of roadway. In 2023 and 2024 we will treat 12.3 miles. Funding for this work is from the North Umpqua Hydropower Mitigation Fund, Drinking Water Providers Partnership, and Yoncalla Creek Spill Restoration Fund.

Diamond Lake Wildlife Openings

Openings in the forest are important features for wildlife habitat, especially in providing forage for elk and deer. Due to fire exclusion, many of these openings have closed in with shrubs and small trees, and so we are working together with the Umpqua National Forest to open up over 200 acres on the Diamond Lake District. In 2022 we restored 31 acres through mowing and mastication and will complete the remainder in 2023. TheRocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the North Umpqua Hydropower Mitigation Fund have made this work possible.

Photo by ZT Rahcs

Francis Creek Aquatic Organism Passage

Francis Creek is a headwaters tributary to Canton Creek, which flows into Steamboat Creek and the North Umpqua River. In summer 2023, thanks to funding from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board and the Great American Outdoors Act, we will replace a culvert on Francis Creek that is blocking fish passage. This will provide fish access to one mile of cool water stream habitat. This project builds upon instream restoration completed by the Umpqua National Forest in 2020 to improve the rearing and spawning habitat for native steelhead, whose numbers have been declining in recent years.

Thielsen Fire Drone Seeding

The NFF and the Umpqua National Forest (via the North Umpqua Hydropower Mitigation Fund) are funding a drone seeding pilot project on 25 acres affected by the 2020 Thielsen Fire. In October 2022, project partner DroneSeed deployed thousands of Douglas-fir, Engelmann spruce, and western white pine seeds - nestled within DroneSeed’s biodegradable and nutrient-loaded seed “pucks”. Drones can quickly spread tree seeds over a burn area soon after a large wildfire and are safer than sending tree planters into post-fire areas and challenging terrain. While we do not expect drone seeding to replace traditional tree planting, we hope it can be a valuable tool in the reforestation toolbox.

Photo by DroneSeed Co.

Sustainable Recreation and Fire Recovery

Labor Day 2020 was an ominous weekend in western Oregon. Multiple uncharacteristically large wildfires swept down river corridors leaving vast swaths of forests and communities burned. One of the largest was the Archie Creek Fire in the North Umpqua Watershed. It burned 131,542 acres across U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, and private lands. Tragically, more than 100 homes were lost in the fire. While community organizations and government agencies have been helping the homeowners to recover, we at the National Forest Foundation have stepped in to help reopen recreation sites on the Umpqua National Forest. The local communities of Glide and Roseburg rely on the outdoor recreation and tourism economies; as such, restoring trails and other recreation sites has been critical.

Fall Creek Falls Fire Recovery

Our first fire recovery project on the Umpqua was at Fall Creek Falls, one of the most popular trails in the area. The fire burned hot through the site, killing 100% of the trees. Additionally, the fire resulted in multiple landslides along the trail, destroying retaining walls, culverts, bridges, and signs.

Travel Oregon supported our work with a $100,000 grant to recover the recreation site and provide a safer visitor experience. We hired local contractors to remove dangerous trees along the trail and parking lot and build a new trailhead kiosk. Northwest Youth Corps spent three weeks restoring the trail, and the Motley Crew, a local volunteer group, rebuilt a safety fence at the waterfall overlook. The site is now open for the public to enjoy!

North Umpqua Trail

The North Umpqua Trail (NUT) is a 79-mile single-track trail that begins in the Mt. Thielsen Wilderness and follows the North Umpqua River toward the community of Glide. Thirty miles of this trail burned in 2020 and 2021, and another 20 miles regularly experiences landslides due to the steep, wet terrain. We are working closely with the Umpqua National Forest and local partner organizations to restore the NUT with a goal of having the entire trail reopened and in good condition. Learn more about the NUT recovery efforts here.

Fairview Peak Lookout Restoration

Since 2016, the Umpqua National Forest has been chipping away at much-needed repairs to the Fairview Peak Lookout on the Cottage Grove Ranger District. But funding and capacity shortfalls made it difficult for the Umpqua National Forest to complete the work alone. We are so excited to have brought in Filson and Zero Motorcycles as funding partners which allowed us to contract the repair work. We finished repairs to the tower in 2022, allowing Fairview to continue serving as an active fire lookout and to reopen for public reservations [in the shoulder/off-season].

Twin Lakes

The Twin Lakes area is one of the most popular destinations on the Umpqua National Forest. It boasts just over five miles of trails that traverse through old-growth forests and wildflower meadows, circumnavigate the stunningly blue Little Twin Lake and Big Twin Lake, and ascend to a rocky outcrop that offers views of Twin Lakes and nearby Cascade volcanoes. After wildfires in 2017 and 2021, the area needs a little love. Athletic Brewing supports our partnership with Source One Serenity and Phoenix School to maintain these trails and update maps and signage.