Deer Creek is a 20 mile-long creek located in the Lower Wallowa Watershed of the Wallowa River Subbasin of the Grande Ronde Basin. From its confluence with the Wallowa River to approximately RM 10, Deer Creek is on private land. The upper 10 miles are on USFS land, with 6 miles of that in the Eagle Cap Wilderness. The culvert proposed for replacement is at RM 11.7 on USFS land. Deer Creek contains spawning and rearing habitat for Snake River steelhead trout and bull trout, both of which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.
One of the key limiting factors to bull trout and steelhead distribution in the Lower Wallowa River Watershed are fish passage barriers such as the arch/log weir combination addressed in this proposal. Replacing this arch will restore passage to 2.5 miles of juvenile steelhead habitat and 5.0 miles of juvenile/sub-adult bull trout habitat. Replacing this arch will also eliminate the current risk of headcutting under the arch should the log weir downstream fail.