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Gold Creek

Location map for Gold Creek in the Blackfoot Watershed

Gold Creek before restorationGold Creek is a third-order tributary to the lower Blackfoot River.  It flows 18 miles south through a glacial valley, entering the Blackfoot River at river mile 13.5 with base flows of 20-25 cfs. The Gold Creek channel is stable, well-armored, and confined in most reaches.  However, the harvest of riparian conifers and the removal of large instream wood from the lower channel has reduced the diversity in the stream. A 1990 survey showed the lower three miles dominated by low-gradient riffles averaging 661 feet in length, with one riffle extending 2,400 feet. In order to prioritize restoration resources, we developed a fisheries-based restoration priority scorecard, based on biological, social and financial considerations, for 83 impaired tributaries of the Blackfoot River. Gold Creek ranked 11 of 83 streams surveyed.

Restoration efforts focused on enhancing step, plunge and lateral scour pools for Rosgen B2, B3 and C3 channel types. We calculated the maximum expected pool frequency of one pool per 200 feet of channel, using a Rosgen formula, where distance between pools equates to 5 to 7 times bankfull stream width (Rosgen 1996).  In 1996, approximately 200 large conifer logs (30 to 40 foot stems, 15 to 36 inch diameter), and 40 rootwads were placed in the channel, enhancing or creating 67 habitat structures in the lower three miles. 

Gold Creek after restoration Gold Creek after restoration
Gold Creek after restoration

The percent surface area comprised of pools increased from approximately 3% pre-treatment to 13% post treatment. Three types of monitoring have been undertaken regarding the Gold Creek Project:

1) monitoring of habitat structures

Bar graph showing pool frequency increasing after restoration in 1996

2) fish sampling before and after stream restoration

bar graph showing trout populations from 1996 to 2001

3) radio tracking fluvial bull and cutthroat trout.

Eight months after the project was completed (June 1997), an estimated 50-year flood event passed through the project area. Monitoring has shown 85% of the habitat structures remained intact and stable following the flood event with laterally confined reaches retaining more pools than laterally extended reaches.  Radio telemetry studies have indicated use of the habitat structures by both bull and cutthroat trout from 1997 to 2001.

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Blackfoot Valley Watershed
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