UAV imagery acquired July 2017: Vegetation land cover classification is currently being completed.

Summer 2017

Project Description

Earth Design Consultants, Inc. has contracted with the Upper Deschutes Watershed Council to develop a series of high resolution aerial photographs and habitat maps of approximately 21 mi of Whychus Creek near Sisters, OR. The Whychus Creek watershed historically provided some of the best spawning, rearing and/or migration habitat for redband trout, spring Chinook salmon and summer steelhead upstream of the Pelton Round Butte dams on the Deschutes River in Central Oregon. Watershed Council partners are currently implementing an anadromous fish reintroduction program to bring fish back to this watershed. The long-term goal of this project is to achieve self-sustaining salmon and steelhead populations above the Pelton Round Butte dams.

Restoration includes:

  • Restoring natural patterns in stream flow
  • Allowing for fish passage and screening at dams and/or diversions
  • Protection of a healthy stream corridor (including protection and/or restoration of wetlands, in-stream habitat, riparian and floodplain areas)

Since sufficient hydrologic conditions are required to support thriving riparian vegetation, the Watershed Council and its Partners view the extent of floodplain riparian communities as an indicator of floodplain connectivity. By mapping the change as restoration proceeds along the stream corridor, the Council will track progress as dry and agricultural stream reaches are hydrologically reconnected to the stream.

A map of different vegetation cover classes for a section of Whychus Creek.


Earth Design Consultants flew 31 UAV missions in order to map the targeted 21 miles of Whychus Creek floodplain. Data are currently being analyzed. The following images are one of the sections being mapped.

An orthomosaic created from 255 aerial images. The mosaic shows approximately 156 acres of the Whychus Creek flood plain in one section of the restoration area.
A zoomed-in section of the previous image showing some detail along the creek bed.

One of the images used to create the orthomosaic image shown above. The UAV is flying at 350 ft above the ground.
The same photo zoomed further. The resolution of the detail is approximately 1.6 inches per pixel.