Project Updates

If you are seeing this project update it means you are checking out the new project website! Union SWCD received feedback that project information on the district website was not always organized in a way that was easy to find. Moving forward all project updates and information on this site using the easy-to-remember website address (remember the hyphen!). More detailed updates of design and planning products are provided to the Buffalo Flats Focus Group and Union City Council periodically as the project completes milestones noted in the timeline, or if there are any significant changes to the project status.

The Buffalo Flats Floodplain Planning project includes both Little Creek and Catherine Creek on property owned by Buffalo Peak Land & Livestock, LLC. Little Creek and Catherine Creek are on separate restoration tracks because there are differences in their size and scale, physical modifications and infrastructure, and water rights that must be considered. The accuracy and quality of analysis is much higher if the two stream systems are evaluated separately, while still considering the entire project as a combined area. Due to its lesser complexity, Little Creek is furthest along; on-ground project activities in Little Creek are expected to start prior to work on Catherine Creek. The project design team is still very early in the evaluation process, and no firm project decisions or commitments have been made. 

February 2024

Little Creek: The 30% Design package was completed in February 2023 and is on the Resources page of this new website. The package includes the 30% completion level of the Basis of Design Report (BDR), Drawings, and Hydraulic Report. The 30% Design package was reviewed by the landowners and project technical team, local conservation partners, and the BPA Regional Review Team for technical engineering quality assurance. The 30% Design was presented to the Buffalo Flats Focus Group at a February 2023 meeting where details of the design were explained and discussed. Comments and input from all reviewers were incorporated into further design development as the technical team has progressed toward an 80% level.

During summer and fall of 2023 the design team continued to gather site specific, technical information to better inform the design and meet project goals. An archaeology and cultural resources survey was completed in August and September with a pedestrian survey (surface only) for the north portion of the meadow area around Little Creek. Following the surface survey, several shovel pits (~120) were excavated by hand throughout the meadow to look for subsurface items. Areas around discovered historic and culturally significant items were investigated further to better define area boundaries to avoid disturbance. Field surveys were fully completed by October 2023 and a report was developed and submitted to Oregon State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) to explain findings and request concurrence of those findings.

In addition, the design team organized and implemented the excavation of approximately 30 soil pits in the meadow around Little Creek to inspect the composition of the soil profile and static water elevation. These pits were inspected and refilled within 48 hours of excavation and provided important information about the subsurface materials and conditions in the Little Creek floodplain. Three permanent groundwater monitoring wells (piezometers) were also installed in the western portion of the meadow to measure the depth to the free water surface throughout the year. These wells will not be used to pump or remove water but will provide a way to continually measure groundwater elevation, especially in relation to the surface water elevation in Little Creek.

The technical design team, and specifically the engineers and hydraulic design scientists, have been assessing and analyzing site conditions and hydraulic modeling results during the Fall 2023. An 80% level of design was expected in December 2023, but as modeling output was assessed and additional review completed by the technical team, changes have been made to the design. The details of the design approach and project actions are currently being evaluated further and the 80% level of design is not complete. Additional review and discussion by the technical team is necessary in order to make important project decisions. Due to these delays in finalizing project decisions, regulatory permit requirements have been delayed into 2024 and will not allow enough time to be prepared for a 2024 construction during the Oregon In-water Work period. Construction is now likely to occur during the summer of 2025 on the Little Creek portion of the Buffalo Flats Floodplain Project.

Catherine Creek: The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) is conducting a feasibility study and cost estimate for relocating a portion of Highway 203 along Catherine Creek on the Buffalo Peak Land & Livestock property. ODOT began this work in May 2023 with site surveys to develop an elevation layer of the area. Alternatives for a new alignment and location of Highway 203 will be developed considering safety concerns, maintenance, weather impacts, construction feasibility, cost, and environmental impacts. This feasibility study and cost estimate are scheduled to take place through 2023 and into 2024.

The following timeline diagram illustrates the progress of both the Little Creek and Catherine Creek portions of the project.

Public Outreach: Union SWCD continually updates the project’s online Frequently Asked Questions page and resource sheets. Any significant project updates or additional resources will continue to be posted to this website (  We are also continuing to work directly with the project’s established Focus Group to share information and receive feedback that helps us communicate project actions with the public and understand community concerns. 

The Union SWCD welcomes any questions and inquiries about the project. If you have questions or want to discuss the project, please contact us at 541-963-1313 or email Jim Webster at or Aaron Bliesner at