November 2006 Watershed Highlight of the Month

November 2006 Watershed Highlight: Lower Clear Creek Floodway Rehabilitation Project

Recreating the Floodplain at Restoration Grove in the Lower Clear Creek Watershed

Above: At “Restoration Grove,” a 12-acre floodplain was constructed in an area that was previously a death-trap for salmon and steelhead. The constructed scour channels were designed to intercept spring groundwater to encourage natural recruitment of riparian vegetation.
Above: Restoration Grove was replanted with native trees and shrubs, creating a patch of riparian habitat (second year growth) for songbirds and other wildlife.
Above: Restoration Grove during spring flooding with the floodplain functioning as designed.

For November 2006, we would like to honor the Lower Clear Creek Floodway Rehabilitation Project.

In the Fall of 2002, more than fifteen thousand Chinook Salmon swam upstream from the Pacific Ocean into the San Francisco Bay and Delta, turned north at the Sacramento River, and finally reached their spawning grounds in Shasta County in the shallow waters and gravel beds of Lower Clear Creek. By contrast, between 1967 and 1991, the average fall-run Chinook population was less than seventeen hundred fish per year.

What accounts for the remarkable upswing in the fish population? It was not an accident of nature. Over the last decade, Lower Clear Creek has undergone a dramatic transformation from a severely damaged and degraded waterway toward a healthy and functional stream ecosystem.

The return of the salmon is part of the growing legacy of a visionary group of local leaders that have come together to restore the watershed. This multi-agency team, led by the Western Shasta Resource Conservation District, is implementing the Lower Clear Creek Management Plan. Their most ambitious project, the Lower Clear Creek Floodway Rehabilitation Project, is a working demonstration of an ecosystem-based approach to watershed management. It rehabilitates the natural form and function of a 1.8 mile channel and floodplain along the Lower Clear Creek corridor, providing improved habitat for salmon and steelhead, high quality riparian habitat for songbirds and native wildlife, as well as recreation and jobs for the people who live in the watershed.

You can download the eight page Case Study of this project here.

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