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Project adds woody structures to river

BATES - Heli-logging may be slow these days, but aerial restoration work was going strong last week near Bates, in northeastern Grant County.

Aurora-based Columbia Helicopters was hired to haul some 400 logs from a deck on the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs’ Oxbow conservation area, on County Road 20 west of Bates. The logs were lowered, several at a time, to create log structures to restore sinuosity to the river channel, create pools for salmon and reconnect to the wetlands.

Wildlands Inc., out of Richland, Wash. is doing the in-stream work on the project.

Partners include the Tribes, the Malheur National Forest, Oregon Water Enhancement Board, U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Ecotrust, Bureau of Reclamation and the Forest Service’s TEAMS Enterprise Unit.

The stretch of the river, flowing on Tribes and Forest Service land, was targeted because of its historic importance to endangered fish species and the impacts from past dredging and other activities.

Steph Charette of the Tribes said the aerial operation meant they didn’t need to push roads into sensitive areas to haul the logs into place. It also meant some business in the local area, with helicopter ground crew of about 15 people staying in John Day for the project.