Tenmile Creek BackgroundThe Tenmile Creek watershed encompasses approximately 15 thousand acres on the central Oregon Coast. The watershed is unique in it's location, placed between the Cummins and Rock Creek wilderness areas. Together, this area is part of the largest contiguous coastal temperate forest left in the Pacific Northwest. It is also unique in it's geology, as the stream runs through both the Yachats basalt formation (characteristic of the small coastal streams in the vicinity of Cape Perpetua), as well as Tyee sandstone in the upper watershed (characteristic of most coastal streams on the central Oregon coast). Because of their location and relative isolation from the larger river basins to the north and south (the Alsea and Siuslaw Rivers), ODFW has recognized and managed Tenmile Creek and surrounding streams (Cummins, Rock, Bob, and Cape Creeks) as an important haven for production of wild salmonids. Steelhead and cutthroat trout, coho and chinook salmon, pacific lamprey, eulachon (smelt), and four species of cottids are known to live in the Tenmile basin. The Salmonid Habitat Project has been monitoring the fish populations in the basin since 1991, estimating both the summer rearing populations in the basin, and the migrating smolt populations as they enter the ocean in the spring.
While Tenmile Creek still produces significant numbers of juvenile salmonids each year, changes in the habitat within the watershed have reduced these numbers from historic levels. Watershed analysis indicate that homesteading, logging, and road building activities have reduced the quantity and quality of fish habitat throughout the basin. Over 70% of the riparian area is in an early serial condition, which will prolong the unnaturally low levels of large wood in the channel. Priorities for watershed restoration of the Tenmile Creek basin have recently been identified by the USFS in their Cummins/Tenmile Watershed Analysis. These include road removal and stabilization, modifying riparian vegetation, placement of large wood in the instream channel, and replacement of culverts that affect fish passage. A group of private landowners (Tenmile Creek Association and the National Audubon Society), ODFW, and the U.S.Forest.Service have agreed to implement these restoration efforts throughout the watershed and monitor the affect on fish populations.