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Projects in the Bull Run Watershed Closure Area

The Portland Water Bureau regularly produces a list of projects and ongoing maintenance activities that are happening or planned to occur in the Bull Run Watershed Management Unit.

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The Portland Water Bureau regularly produces a list of City-sponsored projects and ongoing maintenance activities that are happening or planned to occur in the Bull Run Watershed Closure Area. The purpose of the list is to disclose to the public City-sponsored activities occurring within the Closure Area per the Bull Run Watershed Protection requirements outlined in City Code 21.36.  On a quarterly basis, the Water Bureau provides updates on all bureau-sponsored projects and activities both active and in the planning stage within the Closure Area.

The following list was last updated in January 2021.


Bull Run Land Exchange

The project is exchanging approximately 2,890 acres of federal Forest Service land to the City of Portland for approximately 2,200 acres of City owned lands within the Bull Run Watershed Management Unit. The transaction is a land-for-land exchange of properties of equivalent financial value.           

  • Purpose: To create a better alignment of land ownership responsibilities with the respective missions of the City and the Forest Service.
  • Location: Selected parcels within the Management Unit
  • Schedule/status: City Council voted to authorize signing the Exchange Agreement on July 31, 2019. The agreement authorizes the City and USDA Forest Service to complete the exchange. Both agencies signed the agreement in September 2019. Completing the transaction involves a variety of process steps to prepare the deeds. The property transaction is currently expected to be completed in early 2021. More information is available on the Mt. Hood National Forest website and the Water Bureau website.

Road 10 Improvement (“10E”)

A 2.0-mile section of Road 10 will be reconstructed and repaved to improve pavement condition, widen where needed to improve safety, replace aging ditch and stream culverts, create better ditch lines to improve drainage, and address slumping and slides.      

  • Purpose: To ensure continuous, reliable, and safe access to all facilities. Also provides reliable access for monitoring and fire protection in the watershed.
  • Location: Road 10 in the Bull Run Watershed, from approximately MP 6.2 to the intersection with Road 1008
  • Schedule/status: Project construction began in 2020 and continued through October 2020. Project construction stopped for the winter and commence again in the summer of 2021. Construction is currently expected to be completed during the fall of 2021.

Hamilton Creek Culvert Replacement Project

Hamilton Creek is a fish-bearing perennial stream that drains directly into Reservoir 1, just west of the North Fork Bull Run River Bridge. Road 10, a critical access route within the Bull Run, crosses Hamilton Creek just above the stream’s outlet into Reservoir 1. The current culvert was likely installed more than 60 years ago, is significantly undersized, and is in a failing condition. Complete failure of the culvert could result in degradation of drinking water quality as well as damage to road infrastructure and aquatic habitat. The project will replace the existing culvert with a new structure that is appropriately sized for current and future stream flow conditions and meets regulatory requirements for aquatic organism passage.

  • Purpose: To reduce risk to drinking water quality, road infrastructure, and aquatic habitat that could result from a catastrophic failure of the existing culvert. The project will help to ensure continuous, reliable, and safe access to all facilities. It also maintains reliable access for monitoring and fire protection in the watershed.
  • Location: MP 12.1 on Road 10 in the Bull Run Watershed
  • Schedule and status: Project design is in progress and is expected to be completed in early 2021. Construction is anticipated to occur during the summer of 2021.

Dam 1 - Needle Valve Replacement Project

This project will replace three Larner-Johnson Needle Valves from the face of Dam 1 with three new valves. The existing needle valves are over 90 years old and are antiquated, leak, require significant occasional maintenance, are difficult to open/close, and have been proven to be unsafe in certain operational conditions. The project will meet State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) requirements as outlined in a Memorandum of Agreement.

  • Purpose: The project will replace existing valves with fixed-cone valve with hoods. It will also improve operation and access and is intended to reduce annual maintenance costs. Visual impacts to the valve house structure will be minimized.
  • Location: Dam 1
  • Schedule and status: Construction began in 2019, but activities through most of 2020 focused on site work preparation and material manufacture and procurement. Demolition work on the valve house was completed at the end of 2020. Reconstruction of the valve house, valve installation and electrical work, and painting is scheduled for early 2021. The project is expected to be completed in April 2021.

Geotechnical Drilling/mapping rock

Conduct geotechnical drilling at Dam 1 toe and abutments to determine rock quality, joint spacing, and joint orientation.

  • Purpose: Data is needed to conduct a flood overtopping scour analysis, per FERC requirements.
  • Location: Dam 1 toe and abutments
  • Schedule and status: The project was completed in fall 2020.

Spillway Vertical Slide Gates Inspection

Conduct a close-up visual inspection of the Bull Run Dam 1 spillway gates.

  • Purpose: To determine the condition and confirm the as-built configuration to use in a structural analysis of the gates.
  • Location: Dam 1 Spillway
  • Schedule and status: The primary inspection was completed in 2020. A follow-up inspection on the spillway gate flashboards is currently scheduled for early 2021.

Bull Run Treatment Pilot Plant

A pilot treatment plant has been installed at Headworks to inform development of the Bull Run Treatment Project. The pilot plant consists of multiple trailers that house small-scale water treatment equipment, including flocculation, sedimentation, ozonation, and filtration. The pilot uses raw water from the diversion pool and passes it through conventional surface water treatment processes. Water passes through a solids handling tank, activated carbon, and dechlorination while being monitored daily to mitigate any risk of ecologic impact before being returned to the Bull Run River. Equipment runs continuously and will be staffed during normal work hours.

  • Purpose: The objective of the pilot is to demonstrate improved water quality, inform process selection and detailed design for the full-scale Bull Run Treatment Project, optimize treatment processes, and train treatment operator staff.
  • Location: Headworks, immediately downstream of intake
  • Schedule and status: Pilot equipment was installed and began operations in 2019. Operations are ongoing and planned to continue for several years.

Bull Run Cabin Chimney Repair

This project will repair a damaged chimney for the historic south cabin at Bull Run Lake. Repairs include demolition of the existing chimney, salvage of suitable stones, and reconstruction of the chimney with a design similar to the original 1917 chimney. A temporary access ramp to the site was constructed in 2019 to facilitate movement of materials and will be removed upon completion of the project. Repair work will be performed by a masonry contractor.

  • Purpose: Remove existing safety hazard of falling stones and ensure the longterm protection of this recently restored cabin by eliminating the water/snow entry currently threatening to damage the structure. All three cabins in this location are eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP).
  • Location: South Cabin at Bull Run Lake
  • Schedule and status: The project was completed in the fall of 2020. Removal of the temporary access ramp is planned for 2021.

Screenhouse #3 Roof Replacement

The project will remove and dispose of the existing roof which is beginning to fail. It will replace the existing roof with a new SBS (Styrene-Butadiene-Styrene) roof system.

  • Purpose: The existing roof is past its useful life and has developed leaks that can no longer be repaired. The new roof will stop leaks and prevent possible damage to building and possible degradation to indoor air quality for staff.
  • Location: Headworks - Screenhouse #3
  • Schedule and status: Roof replacement was completed in 2020.

USGS Monitoring Site Improvements

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in coordination with the City, maintains several stream and water level monitoring stations throughout the BRWMU. The USGS is making improvements at two stations to upgrade equipment and adjust sensor locations.

  • Purpose: Projects will improve efficiency of data collection; improve accuracy and redundancy of data collection; and improve data communication
  • Location: Dam 1 (station ID 14139000); Lower Bull Run USGS station (station ID 14140000)
  • Schedule and status: The improvements were completed in 2020.

On-going activities

Water Treatment Operations

Apply chlorine and monitor for finished water quality residuals. Monitor and control river flow below Dam 2 to meet Habitat Conservation Plan fish flow requirements. Control conduit flows to meet customer demand.

  • Purpose: To disinfect water to protect public health and meet all state and federal water quality standards for unfiltered water system; create beneficial fish habitat conditions in lower Bull Run River; supply potable water to Portland metro area.
  • Location: Headworks 
  • Schedule/status: Year-round


Two full-time Watershed Rangers conduct vehicle and foot patrols for trespass; monitor a private-vehicle identification system; deploy and maintain a camera system for remote area monitoring; and coordinate emergency access in an emergency event. Security staff conduct fire patrols during the summer months and conduct security site surveys of all water system facilities and infrastructure sites throughout the year.

  • Purpose: To enforce the public closure of the Bull Run Watershed Management Unit and maintain an effective security program for the Unit.
  • Location: Entire Watershed 
  • Schedule/status: Year-round 

Road Maintenance 

Brushing (cutting roadside brush), mowing, tree-fall removal, slide removal, ditch maintenance, culvert cleaning and repair, sub-grade repair, snow plowing, chip-seal, and bridge inspections.

  • Purpose: To ensure continuous, reliable, and safe access to all facilities, as well as maintenance of other city-owned infrastructure within the watershed.
  • Location: Entire Watershed 
  • Schedule/status: Year-round 

Trail Maintenance 

Brushing, debris removal and safety-related maintenance on trails that provide access to water monitoring stations.

  • Purpose: To provide access to facilities and natural resources.
  • Location: Trails associated with USGS gauging stations located through watershed
  • Schedule/status: Year-round

Conduit Maintenance 

Brushing, mowing, and tree-fall removal on conduit right-of-ways, leak repair, blow-off and air valve maintenance, bridge inspection, and intertie operations

  • Purpose: To provide access on right-of-way as required to maintain operation of conduits.
  • Location: Conduit right-of-ways between Headworks and main gate
  • Schedule/status: Year-round, as required

Facilities Maintenance 

Mowing at Headworks and Bear Creek house, monitor for storm damage, storm clean-up and repair.

  • Purpose: To maintain structural integrity, upkeep and access to facilities.
  • Location: Facilities located throughout the watershed 
  • Schedule/status: Year-round, as required

Waterway Debris Removal and Disposal 

Removal of logs and debris captured by upper log boom in Reservoir 1. Inspection and repair of log booms in Reservoirs 1 & 2 and Bull Run Lake.

  • Purpose: To protect dams and dikes, and other water system infrastructure. 
  • Location: Reservoir 1, Reservoir 2 and Bull Run Lake
  • Schedule/status: Late spring and summer, and as required

Danger/Hazard Tree Removal 

Removal of danger and hazard trees that pose a risk to life, property, and infrastructure, as required by federal and state laws. Identification of danger and hazard trees is performed by a certified danger tree specialist.

  • Purpose: To keep workers and visitors safe while traveling and working in the watershed; to protect water system property and infrastructure.
  • Location: Selected locations throughout the watershed
  • Schedule/status: Year-round, as required

Winter-Season Facility Maintenance Surveys 

Use of snow cat to conduct snow survey measurements at Bull Run Lake; assess condition of outlet structures at Bull Run and Boody lakes, assess condition of gauging flumes at Upper and Lower Springs; and provide access to Hiyu Mountain telecommunications tower for ComNet staff. ComNet provides microwave communication service to the city.

  • Purpose: To maintain seasonal access to facilities; monitor condition of resources; repair failed infrastructure.
  • Location: Selected locations throughout watershed
  • Schedule/status: Winter months (generally November – May)

Dam Maintenance 

Perform various tasks associated with routine and ongoing dam maintenance, including weeklypiezometer readings in Dams 1 & 2; operation and maintenance of gates; FERC requirements such as annual flushing of piezometers, face drains and foundation drains; replacement of aging or failed instrumentation and equipment (e.g., North Tower level sensing equipment); and brushing on dam abutments.

  • Purpose: To maintain operational and structural integrity of dams and satisfy FERC requirements.
  • Location: Dam 1 and Dam 2 
  • Schedule/status: Year-round, as required

Road Inclinometer Monitoring 

Measure angles of slope, elevation or inclination. Inclinometer locations are all in close proximity to the conduits. 

  • Purpose: To determine presence of ground movements that could affect conduits. The locations are either in areas of historic slides or in areas that were determined to have a potential to slide.
  • Location: Road 10 between main gate and Headworks
  • Schedule/status: Readings are made twice a year (spring and fall)

Road Piezometer Monitoring

Use piezometer to measure water levels in porous surfaces and near potential slide areas.

  • Purpose: To determine risk potential to protect critical water system infrastructure from slope failure.
  • Location: Road 10 between main gate and Headworks
  • Schedule/status: Readings are made twice a year (spring and fall)

Stream Flow & Temperature Gauging and Reservoir Level Monitoring

Cooperative program with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to monitor flow and water quality measurements at selected stream stations. Measure water levels at Bull Run Lake and Bull Run reservoirs.

  • Purpose: To monitor volume of water entering the reservoirs for summer supply planning and flow and temperature management in lower Bull Run River.
  • Location: Selected locations throughout watershed
  • Schedule/status: Continuous automated monitoring. Validation by on-site inspection performed at regularly scheduled intervals or as needed.

Snow Gauging 

Cooperative program with the federal Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) to monitor snow depth, snow water equivalent, precipitation, and temperature at three monitoring stations.

  • Purpose: To monitor snow levels and hydrologic conditions
  • Location: Selected locations throughout watershed
  • Schedule/status: Continuous automated monitoring. Validation by on-site inspection performed annually or as needed.

Stream Key-Station Monitoring

Collect water quality data at the mouths of the four main tributaries that flow into the reservoirs.

  • Purpose: To monitor water quality at the four main tributaries.
  • Location: North Fork, South Fork, Main Stem and Fir Creek key stations
  • Schedule/status: Scheduled: monthly: Storm events: 6-8 times per year

Reservoir Monitoring 

Collect water quality data and temperature profiles from the reservoirs.

  • Purpose: To monitor conditions, physical processes and water quality in source water reservoirs.
  • Location: Reservoirs 1 and 2
  • Schedule/status: Bi-weekly

Fish Surveys - Bull Run Reservoirs 

Estimate of fish populations in reservoirs using hydroacoustic surveys

  • Purpose: To estimate the size of each reservoir’s fish population and maintain a record of changes through time in preparation for FERC relicensing.
  • Location: Reservoirs 1 and 2
  • Schedule/status: Surveys began in 2008 and occur annually, alternating each year between reservoirs.

Vegetation Stewardship 

Ongoing monitoring, removal and control of invasive species occurs regularly. Surveys for invasive plant species occur along active and decommissioned roads, trails, reservoirs, and near infrastructure, as well as sites of recent road and other construction projects. Aquatic surveys of the Bull Run reservoirs and rare plant surveys of prairies adjacent to the road network are also conducted to monitor potential impacts of invasive plant species on these habitats and populations. Occasionally, tree planting is performed in various locations to mitigate tree removal per the Bull Run Tree Protection SOP and to support healthy forest conditions.  

  • Purpose: To comply with the Bull Run Tree Protection SOP and to protect native vegetation and retain ecological function that helps to protect water quality.
  • Location: Selected locations throughout watershed
  • Schedule/status: Annually or as needed

Water Education Program 

Supervised Bull Run tours are administered by the Water Bureau’s education staff. 

  • Purpose: To educate participants about the Bull Run watershed and Portland’s water system. Topics include history, ecology, source water protection, water quality, system operations, and stewardship.
  • Location: Selected locations throughout watershed
  • Schedule/status: Tours for 2021 are suspended indefinitely due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Spawning Surveys  

Collect adult Chinook salmon information for the lower Bull Run River.

  • Purpose:  To monitor adult salmon numbers and comply with terms of the City’s Incidental Take Permit
  • Location: Lower Bull Run River
  • Schedule/status:  HCP Years 1–20 (2010-2029) Takes place annually from late- August through mid-December.  

Spawning Gravel Placement and Monitoring 

The City augments spawning gravel in the lower Bull Run River and monitors the effects of the gravel placements. Project constitutes Measure H-1 of the Bull Run Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP).

  • Purpose: To mitigate the effects of Dam 1 and Dam 2 on transport of natural spawning gravel to the lower Bull Run River and comply with the terms of the City’s Incidental Take Permit.
  • Location: Lower Bull Run River
  • Schedule/status: HCP Years 1–50 (2010-2059)

    Gravel at three sites is placed in the river each year.

    Surface area of spawning gravel patches in the lower Bull Run River is estimated every 5 years. The next survey is scheduled for 2024.  

    Depth of the spawning gravel scour by high flows is monitored in certain years. The next monitoring of scour depth has not been scheduled but is not occurring in 2020-2021. 

Salmon Monitoring - Little Sandy River and lower Bull Run River 

PWB continues to do two activities in the Little Sandy River: 1) maintenance of a smolt trap and 2) fish habitat surveys and snorkel surveys. Snorkel surveys are also conducted in the lower Bull Run River.  

  • Purpose: The purpose of the smolt trap is to monitor juvenile salmon and steelhead production. Habitat surveys monitor the effectiveness of fish habitat restoration measures. Habitat and smolt surveys comply with terms of the Bull Run HCP. Snorkel surveys monitor juvenile salmon and steelhead populations; these surveys support HCP fish management activities.
  • Location: 

    Smolt trap: just upstream of the former Little Sandy Dam site

    Little Sandy fish habitat and snorkel surveys: from the mouth of the Little Sandy river to RM 2.7, and from the mouth to the former dam site, respectively

    Lower Bull Run River snorkel surveys: from the mouth of the Bull Run River to the lamprey weir (just below the diversion dam)

  • Schedule/status: The smolt trap is operated from roughly early-March through early-June annually (2009 – 2059). Habitat surveys are conducted 7 times over a 20-year period (2007-2027). Snorkel surveys have been performed annually since 2009 and are expected to continue indefinitely.

Fish Distribution Surveys - Various small streams 

PWB occasionally surveys small streams throughout the watershed above and below potential fish barriers such as road crossings or waterfalls to determine the presence or absence of fish.

  • Purpose: To determine the presence or absence of fish in streams potentially affected by PWB activities such as road maintenance.
  • Location: Various streams tributary to the Bull Run River or its tributaries
  • Schedule/status: None to several locations per year, as required

Fish Habitat Surveys - ODFW 

The City permits access to Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) in order to conduct fish habitat surveys on select short stream segments to support the agency’s ongoing monitoring and research for salmon recovery and conservation.

  • Purpose: To provide reference data for salmon recovery and conservation monitoring and research efforts. Data on stream habitat in the Bull Run is provided to the City upon request.  
  • Location: Randomly selected stream segments throughout the watershed. Segments are typically 500 meters in length.
  • Schedule/status: Sampling in the Bull Run began in 2015. Usually 2-3 segments surveyed per year.

Reed Canary Grass Removal/ Toad Monitoring 

Based on monitoring conducted since 2010, the City has discontinued the practice of cutting and removing invasive reed canary grass along the north bank of the upper Reservoir 1. This activity is included as Measure R-3 of the City’s Bull Run HCP. The practice was intended to benefit reproduction of western toads. Monitoring data, however, did not support the assumption that better habitat would be created by cutting the grass. Annual toad monitoring will be continued by the City to gain additional information relevant to the conservation goal of Measure R-3. Cutting of reed canary grass may be resumed in the future as additional information is gathered. 

  • Purpose: To meet the conservation intent of HCP Measure R-3 by monitoring toads in order to (1) determine that toad breeding at the site is self-sustaining, or (2) find a way to improve productivity.
  • Location: Reservoir 1 
  • Schedule/status: HCP Years 1–50 (2010-2059). Toad monitoring is performed annually, typically weekly from May to June. Reed canary grass removal, when conducted, is performed annually. 

Dam Safety Inspections of PHP Facilities 

Bureau of Hydropower staff periodically visit and inspect the Portland Hydroelectric Project’s (PHP) two Bull Run Dams and powerhouses.

  • Purpose: To ensure the stability and safety of the hydroelectric facilities and that any changing conditions at the dams and powerhouses can be monitored and addressed.
  • Location: Dam 1 and Dam 2
  • Schedule/status: Monthly 

FERC Annual Operations Inspections

Hydropower staff accompanies representatives from the FERC and the Oregon Water Resources Department on periodic inspections of Bull Run Dams Nos. 1 & 2.

  • Purpose: To inspect and assess the physical condition of the two Bull Run dams and comply with FERC regulations.
  • Location: Dam 1 and Dam 2 
  • Schedule/status: Annually 

FERC Quinquennial (5-year) Part 12 Inspection and Report

Inspection of the Portland Hydroelectric Project (PHP).

  • Purpose: Required reoccurring 5-year extensive review of the PHP Dam Safety program and facility infrastructure. Inspection is conducted by an outside independent consultant to report back to FERC on the status of the project and associated programs to protect the Bull Run River and downstream population.
  • Location: Dam 1 and Dam 2 
  • Schedule/status: Completed in 2017; reoccurring every 5 years; next review scheduled for 2022

EWEB and ENW Normal Ongoing PHP Operations

As contract operators for the City, Eugene Water and Electric Board (EWEB) routinely starts and stops the two Portland Hydroelectric Project’s (PHP) powerhouses remotely from their control room in Eugene.  A second contractor, Energy Northwest (ENW), has operating personnel operating from the City’s Headworks facility. They work in both PHP powerhouses every day conducting the daily preventive checks and maintenance procedures to maintain both power plants at a fully operational capability.

  • Purpose: To verify the proper functioning of powerhouse equipment; and perform regular operation and maintenance functions. Monitor crests of both BR Dams to verify the actual reservoir water levels against what is being recorded in the PHP SCADA monitoring system.
  • Location: Dam 1 and Dam 2 
  • Schedule/status: Annually 

Annual Overhauls of the two PHP Powerhouses

Energy Northwest schedules annual individual two-week long power generation outages at each of the Portland Hydroelectric Project’s (PHP) powerhouses, during which time they have a variety of its maintenance and repair crews visit and do work at both of the powerhouses.

  • Purpose: To accomplish a range of testing, measuring, repair and maintenance work that cannot be accomplished while the units are in operation.
  • Location: Dam 1 and Dam 2 
  • Schedule/status: Annually – for usually two weeks at each powerhouse - in the summer / fall period

Deliveries to and Removals from the PHP Powerhouses 

On an “as-needed” basis, diesel fuel and supplies are delivered to both of the Portland Hydroelectric Project’s (PHP) powerhouses.

  • Purpose: To ensure adequate fuel for emergency backup generators and other supplies as needed. Both PHP powerhouses have diesel generators that provide emergency power during electricity outages. 
  • Location: Dam 1 and Dam 2 
  • Schedule/status: As needed - infrequent 

PHP Power Transmission Line Assessment & Maintenance

Portland General Distribution Service’s (PGDS is a branch of Portland General Electric) designated forester periodically conducts site visits to assess the condition of the Portland Hydroelectric Project’s (PHP) power transmission line corridor. In consultation with the City and U.S. Forest Service (if on federal land) recommendations and decisions are made on proposed brushing and hazard tree removal.

  • Purpose: To protect the safety and integrity of the transmission line. 
  • Location: Power line Right of Way between Dam 1 and main gate
  • Schedule/status: Assessment: annually. Maintenance: on average, once every three years. PHP, PWB, and PGDS are considering increasing the scope of the yearly vegetation maintenance.

PHP Power Line Repairs

Portland General Distribution Service’s power line repair crews periodically visit the Portland Hydroelectric Project’s (PHP) transmission line corridor to repair any storm caused damage that may have occurred.

  • Purpose: To ensure continued operation of powerhouses and minimize the duration of power outages.
  • Location: Power line Right of Way between Dam 1 and main gate
  • Schedule/status: As needed following events causing damage to the PHP transmission lines.

Bull Run Lake Special Use Authorization Monitoring

PWB is required to conduct various wildlife and fish monitoring activities on an annual basis to maintain its special use authorization with the Forest Service for Bull Run Lake. Activities completed in 2020 include: avian surveys, spawning surveys, fish population estimates, and limnological monitoring. Planned activities for 2021 include: avian surveys, spawning surveys, fish population estimates, limnological monitoring, and amphibian surveys.

  • Purpose: To comply with mitigation and monitoring requirements of the Bull Run Lake Special Use Authorization.
  • Location:  Bull Run Lake
  • Schedule/status: Ongoing during field season (late spring through late fall)

Bilateral Compliance Agreement Interim Measures: Monitoring and Inspections

PWB is conducting routine Cryptosporidium monitoring at the intake as well as watershed inspections and environmental sampling as part of the requirements of the December 2017 Bilateral Compliance Agreement with Oregon Health Authority (OHA).

Environmental samples include tributary water and wildlife scat. Inspection categories include: security, diversion pool, soil erosion areas and sanitary facilities.

Supplementary wildlife monitoring activities may include (1) using live traps for collecting small mammal scat near the diversion pool and reservoirs and (2) deer surveys around Headworks.