NV & OR Project Descriptions
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Two major projects have been completed at the Duckwater Reservation. The first was the restoration of Big Warm Springs, a large (19 cfs) warm-water spring system that emerges from the desert floor near the town of Duckwater Falls. The town was named after a historic steep cascade of flow once supplied by Big Warm Springs, but had been diverted to a series of fish farming brood ponds. StreamWise worked with the Environmental Planning Department of the Duckwater Shoshone Tribe and USFWS Partners Program to restore the one-mile historic flow path from the source to the falls. The project focus was on restoration of Railroad Valley springfish habitat, a Federally endangered species. Stabilization of the spring source pool perimeter also allowed for a return to traditional ceremonial uses by the tribe.
The second large project involved Little Warm Spring in the same vicinity. Flow was restored to a large wetland complex and a reach of irrigation ditch was eliminated. The project also added significant channel habitat for the endangered Railroad Valley springfish. Irrigation diversions were moved downstream below the critical habitat reach.
Edwards Creek Churchill County, NV 2010 -2011
Edwards Creek lies in a remote valley northeast of Cold Springs, NV. It was once a primary Pony Express route due to ample livestock feed in the lush meadows surrounding the stream. Due to past alterations to the channel, the lush vegetation was in degraded condition with ubiquitous conversion of the wetland resources to more dryland species. The project treated approximately 1.5 miles of incised gully channels by filling portions where possible and relocating the primary flow to remnant channels. Other reaches were treated by "riffle augmentation" where local gravel and cobble were used to partially fill the gully and restore functional dimensions. Pinion pine and juniper were extracted and placed longitudinally prior to filling the spaces with cobble mix and then shaping the surface into an approximation of the historic channel dimensions, pattern, and slope.
The response and recovery of the surrounding wetland resources has been encouraging and supports the use of riffle augmentation methodology on several other subsequent projects.
Two sensitive native species reside in the spring systems emerging near headquarters of Kirch Wildlife Management Area. The White River spinedace and White River springfish were both the target of a habitat enhancement project for NDOW along Flag Springs, a series of springs emerging from the hillslope near the site headquarters. One spring was relocated to the original channel and the diversion erased. Other reaches of all springs were treated with local rock to form a series of step-pools where the indigenous fish prefer to reside. The simple addition of the rock steps added significant additional habitat and increased populations of both native fish.
A second site on the Kirch WMA (Hot Creek) required extensive work to stabilize the collapsing banks of the spring source pool that had been highly degraded by public use and vehicular access. The pool was lined with native boulders to mimic the former bank edge and resist future erosion. The rock also provides significant additional fish habitat in the source area. Access has been limited to foot traffic to protect the spring source area. A series of ditches were erased to restore natural topography and wetland resources adjacent to the spring.
A third site was evaluated along Sunnyside Creek where a series of culverts at an access road crossing created a fish barrier and artificial backwater issues. The culverts were removed and re-used for floodplain flow, while a bottomless concrete structure was placed at the main channel. This action restored fish passage and eliminated the backwater issues. During peak runoff flood events, the re-purposed culverts allow for better flood conveyance with less constricted flow at the main channel crossing.
Owned by NDOW, Lockes features a series of four major warm springs systems that are some of the last refugia for the endangered Railroad Valley springfish. After purchase of the property from a private rancher, NDOW requested StreamWise assessment and restoration design to enhance the spring system conditions for recovery of the springfish populations. Each spring was evaluated for past alterations and impacts to the springfish habitat. Design recommendations called for elimination of irrigation infrastructure and ditches that hinder the form and function of the natural ecosystem. Much of the flow below the spring sources had been confined to linear ditch channels. All artificial flow diversions were retired and regraded to match prior topography. The primary flow from each source was directed back into natural meandering channels that feed an extensive wetland complex downstream.
Hundreds of mature Russian olive trees were extracted during the course of the restoration work. These invasive trees lined much of the channel banks and reduce scarce water supply through evapo-transpiration. NDOW and USFWS are monitoring the springfish population recovery in the restored spring systems.
The project objectives are to restore the natural form and function of Berrey Brook stream channel by removal of a 1930's era earthen dam that impounded a reservoir known as Servier Reservoir. The water was originally used to irrigate downstream grazing pasture, but has not been used for this purpose for many years. Due to loss of function and maintenance of the valve, it was determined that the best course of action would be to remove the 13-foot high dam and restore the function of Berrey Brook to support the wetland resources that once occupied the 78-acre reservoir boundary.
In addition to restoration of the wetland areas surrounding the stream, it is expected that restoration of free flow will enhance downstream wetland resources as well, as this reach was degraded by decades of reduced flows contained within the impoundment.
The project is supported by the landowners and USFWS Resilient Landscapes Program funding targeted at restoration of wet meadow ecosystems that support key species such as Greater sage grouse.
This project was small, but somewhat more complex than most due to the presence of invasive predatory fish species downstream of desert dace habitat. The focus of the project was to create a fish barrier to protect the dace population. This was done by careful placement of culverts fitted with a "rake" at the end to prevent fish jumping into the culvert from the pool below. This is a rare instance where a fish passage barrier is beneficial to isolate the native dace population.
Sprague River is a large, low-gradient river system that passes through primarily agricultural lands in south-central Oregon. Reduction in vegetative vigor due to intensive grazing practices over the past century have allowed erosional features to develop that tend to degrade the resource. Specifically, cut-off channels have begun to form at many of the pronounced meander bends. Once these erosional feature enlarge, the entire flow of the river is passed through this shortcut, and the long meander bend becomes an oxbow channel, separated from the main flow. This is problematic, as the river length is shortened, slope, velocity, and erosive power are increased, water surface elevation is lowered, and habitat through the meander is lost. A project was completed at one such meander where the cut-off channel was filled and revetment placed to prevent erosion of the plug. Flow was restored to the long bend, and water surface was measurably increased with a single restored meander.
This project refers to several sites along the Willow and Green Creek drainages where landowners expressed concerns over ongoing vertical and lateral stream erosion. In some areas, the incision processes have progressed to a point where natural recovery processes will be encouraged. Other areas of degraded meadows may require intervention to restore the channel and floodplain connection. Three sites have been identified as the highest priority for action and project implementation is scheduled for the summer/fall of 2018.
All tasks at three primary sites were completed in August of 2020. Groundwater surfaces were already beginning to recover and fill the borrow ponds. The entire project is now in the recovery phase.
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