Rock On for Clear Water!
Here at the National Forest Foundation, many of us can wax lyrical about bull trout, who are pretty much Salmonidae rock stars. As part of our Treasured Landscapes, Unforgettable Experiences campaign on the Methow Valley Ranger District on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest, we have been working on habitat restoration for these threatened fish. Goat Creek, a Methow River tributary, is critical habitat for bull trout because of its cold, clean water. Last year, along with our partners, the Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation and local volunteers, we restored approximately one mile of in-stream habitat in Goat Creek. Read more about that project here.
This year we are completing a project to improve water quality in the middle and lower reaches of Goat Creek by rock armoring stream crossings at key sites on heavily-traveled forest roads in the drainage. Rock armoring prevents water from washing out the roads and transporting sediments into the stream during both spring run-off and storm events. This process involves shaping the road to put a “crown” on it (making the road higher at the center than at its sides), then laying and compacting gravel over the stretches that are prone to washouts.
Last summer, we gathered data at each perennial and ephemeral stream crossing within the Goat Creek drainage. We then prioritized the crossings to determine where armoring would yield the most benefit. After prioritization was completed, engineers designed plans to armor 13 crossings. We had hoped to finish the work last fall, but nature dictated the schedule - due to early snowfalls, the implementation by our local contractor was just completed this July.
This work to reduce unnatural levels of sediment delivery into the stream is a critical component for improving habitat for bull trout in Goat Creek, as well as the steelhead and chinook salmon that use its lower reaches. And as Goat Creek flows into the Methow River, the benefits of this rock work will, to misquote Proud Mary, just keep rolling, rolling, rolling down the river.