The following highlight some recent project implementation success stories in the region.
Nason Creek Oxbow Reconnection
Sponsored by the Chelan County Natural Resources Department, the Nason Creek Oxbow Reconnection project is located between mile post .83 and mile post 1.33 on Highway 207, from Coles Corner to Lake Wenatchee. This project reconnected a half-mile long oxbow (secondary channel) of Nason Creek by installing two 12 foot fish-friendly culverts. The reconnection allowed the water to enter through the upriver culvert and circulate throughout the oxbow eventually exiting approximately 0.5 miles downstream. The reconnection opened up 21.7 acres of off-channel refuge, rearing, and over-wintering habitat for juvenile salmonids, including ESA listed spring Chinook and summer steelhead. Bull trout and other resident fish species benefit as well.
Methow Sub-Basin Beaver Creek Fish Passage
Working cooperatively, land owners, government agencies and non-profit groups have restored fish access to 20 miles of habitat in Beaver Creek, a 75,000 acre watershed in the Methow Sub-basin. Landowners worked with various agencies to replace five impassable irrigation dams and install new fish screens. Irrigation efficiencies have been improved by installing water measurement devices, enclosing 4,700 feet of open ditch in pipe, and replacing water guzzling sprinklers with efficient center pivot watering systems. Washington Department of Transportation replaced impassable culverts under two highway crossings and the WDFW and USFS replaced impassable culverts at seven Forest Service road crossings. These combined efforts have restored access to roughly 8 miles of habitat for steelhead, spring Chinook and Coho, and 20 miles of habitat for bull trout. Water efficiency improvements have improved late season flows and habitat in lower Beaver Creek. Since these projects have been completed steelhead and Coho have been observed spawning, juvenile and adult spring Chinook and bull trout have been observed in Beaver Creek. One remaining partial barrier irrigation dam is scheduled for replacement in 2009.
Phase 1 of the Bridge-to-Bridge Reach Restoration Project
Conceived by the Entiat Watershed Planning Unit, the Bridge-to-Bridge reach restoration project entails in-stream and off-channel habitat restoration in a 1.2 mile reach of the lower Entiat River, between RM 3.2 and 4.4, to benefit ESA listed spring Chinook, steelhead and bull trout. Phase 1 of the project was sponsored and successfully implemented by the Chelan County Conservation District, with the assistance of numerous partners and two private landowners in 2006. Phase 1 involved construction of a rock cross-vane to create large resting pool habitat for adults, installation of rootwads to provide additional habitat complexity and cover, and the use of wood and rocks in a split-channel area to improve juvenile rearing conditions. Improvements to an irrigation canal slide-gate and outfall were also performed to enable year-round rearing in the canal and improve fish passage. In addition, riparian restoration work was performed on four private properties within the reach.
Haley Creek Road Culvert Replacement
Utilizing Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund (PCSRF) resources, the Colville Confederated Tribes have been vigorously improving habitat conditions for anadromous fish throughout the Okanogan River system. An example is the Haley Creek Road Culvert Replacement project. This project identified two 5.5 ft. diameter culverts that were cracked and allowing water to flow through the walls and underneath the culverts (Figure 1). By replacing these culverts with a bottomless arch design (Figure 2), the risk of this road section washing out (approximately 30 cubic yards of road fill) was prevented and the high quality steelhead habitat downstream was maintained.
This project is located within the Omak Creek, a tributary to the Okanogan River. Omak Creek is wholly contained within the boundary of the Colville Confederated Tribes Reservation. Omak Creek is a unique tributary of the Okanogan River, as it is one of the few tributaries that is not adversely altered by irrigation withdrawals or diversions. Omak Creek is inhabited by summer steelhead, an anadromous species which is federally listed as endangered. This Haley Creek Road project was identified as a high priority for improving and protecting high quality steelhead habitat. Often the best habitat restoration projects are preventative in nature. This project is an example of a proactive effort, rather than reactive, to ensure favorable habitat conditions for steelhead production.
East Foster Creek Stream Restoration
Using partial funding from the Upper Columbia Community Salmon Fund, the Foster Creek Conservation District installed an in-stream erosion control structure on East Foster Creek to reduce high-volume runoff flow energy, remove entrained sediment, halt channel incisement and restore natural riparian floodplain structure and function. The in-stream erosion control structure reduced the amount of sediment delivered to the downstream anadromous fish habitat in mainstem Foster Creek. This project site is located ten miles east of Bridgeport at milepost 127.8 on Highway 17.