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Current Projects

Hancock Spring Restoration Phase 2

    Piezo installation

    Drone view of the project area. Photo credit: Julien Bacon.

    On August 5th, 2019 Robes Parrish and Katy Pfannenstein completed the ten year long process of restoring Hancock Springs near Mazama, Washington. Hancock Springs, a tributary to the Methow River, is a rare spring fed system. With its consistent temperature and flow, Hancock Springs provides cold water refugia in the summer and protection from freezing water temperatures in the winter. The project area is an historical dairy farm. For more than 75 years, cattle and horses grazed the property, degrading the instream habitat and water quality while obliterating the stream banks and the riparian zone.

    Between 1995 and 2007, numerous habitat enhancement activities took place on the property. These included livestock fencing, water crossings, and planting shrubs. Most of these actions were ineffective due to the lack of maintenance by the past land manager. In 2005, the Methow Conservancy purchased a conservation easement for the property. In 2008, the Yakama Nation partnered with the USFWS and the Methow Conservancy to work on restoring this area in earnest. The Yakima Nation had placed some small woody debris to try to improve spawning gravels in the lower channel. In addition, they began working on baseline monitoring for the small watershed.

    Robes Parrish and other Service staff began collecting stream survey data and local native seeds, and in the next few years, completed the restoration design for Phase 1. Phase 1 was completed in 2011. This was comprised of the upper channel from the spring downstream approximately 1,800 feet. A slinger was used to rapidly place topsoil for rebuilding streambanks. All heavy equipment entered the riparian zone on construction mats to minimize damage to soils and established vegetation. The wetland sod was placed along the new channel margin to immediately stabilize the streambanks, and the remaining fill was planted with plugs. Work was completed by mid-September, and fish were observed in the newly constructed channel within 12 hours. Implementation and effectiveness monitoring was conducted for 5 years post-construction. Data from this project was used to inform the design for Phase 2.

    Construction of Phase 2 started in FY 2017 with the collection of native seeds and a stream survey. Over the course of two years, Robes designed a project to restore the natural channel morphology, decreasing the stream width and doubling the channel length. The project went to construction the end of June 2019 and was completed on August 5th. Construction of Phase 2 came with its own set of challenges. The project area experienced a very wet late spring and early summer. Controlling the water around the project area proved to be difficult but the staff and contractors were able to devise a plan to make it work. Similar techniques were used in Phase 2 as in Phase 1. The stream channel was constructed, 70 structures were installed, stream banks were created with fill and topsoil using a slinger, and sod mats were used to line the newly created stream banks to keep all the topsoil in place. A total of 405 sod mats and 36,000 plugs were installed. After completion of the project, wildlife exclusion fencing was installed to protect the new vegetation from deer browse.

    Triple Creek

    Soil was shot from a "slinger" while workers raked it into place and laid sod mats to form the new streambank. Photo credit: Katy Pfannenstein/USFWS

    Triple Creek Beaver Dam Analogues (Myers Creek)

    Piezo installation

    HRCP staff standing on the former wetland surface.

    Myers Creek is a small stream on private-land less than three-miles from the Canadian Border in the beautiful Okanogan Highlands. Working with Trout Unlimited, the Okanogan Highlands Alliance, and the WA Department of Ecology, HRCP staff have designed a series of Beaver Dam Analogue structures to address issues of severe incision. This project will be implemented in summer, 2016 and will have extensive pre- and post-construction groundwater monitoring, physical surveys to monitor how quickly the stream recovers, and riparian planting.

    Triple Creek

    Throughout the treatment reach, Myers Creek is incised 4 to 10 feet.

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    Hawk Creek Rehabilitation

Hawk Creek

Channelization of Hawk Creek.

Hawk Creek flows into Lake Roosevelt and provides habitat for inland redband trout, tiger salamanders, migratory songbirds, waterfowl, and upland wildlife. We are working with a private landowner who wants to improve habitat for all species on this large property. The goal is to restore as much wetland and upland habitat as possible by using only simple techniques for a minimum of expense. The highly disturbed site has tremendous potential which makes it easy to see why the landowner is so passionate about doing good things for fish and wildlife!.

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    Beaver Reintroduction

    Beaver being moved

    Relocating a nuisance beaver to new habitat in Ramsey Creek.

    Recent research has shown that the reintroduction of beavers to headwater streams is the most cost-effective, ecologically beneficial restoration action we can take. In many of our tributary watersheds, beavers have been missing for more than a century due to intensive trapping for the fur trade. However, these ingenious dam builders are an essential part of the ecosystem which we now know to have huge benefits for water storage, flood abatement, stream temperatures, sediment reduction, and fish habitat. Working with various partners in the Methow basin, the Methow Beaver Project has become the national poster-child for this type of work.

    Viewing beaver

    Showing the public how the animals are transported to their new homes.

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    Frazer Creek Post-Fire and Flood Rehabilitation

    Frazer Creek

    Installing Beaver Dam Analogue posts in an incised reach of Frazer Creek.

    Frazer Creek is normally a tiny stream alongside Highway 20 going over Loup Loup Pass that most people never notice. However, after the Carlton Complex Fire in 2014 burned over 76% of the watershed, the creek was now obvious beside the road. Then came the heavy fall rains which caused massive damage to the road, filled entire homes with mud, and swept away culverts. In fact, the watershed became so unstable, that the 2-year flood magnitude increased 2500%! Called upon to help landowners cross the creek to their now-stranded houses, the Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation partnered with many groups to help this tragic situation. In addition to building new, much larger bridges over the creek to facilitate fish passage, the HRP helped MSRF develop a pilot project to catch some of this sediment which now choked the creek and jump-start ecological recovery. In 2015, twelve Beaver Dam Analogues (BDAs) were installed at a location where the creek downcut 4-5 feet in the flood. By catching sediment, we hope that these natural structures raise the streambed back to the original elevation, slow water velocities, and promote the long-term stabilization of Frazer Creek.

    Making log jam

    Completed BDAs will help collect sediment and reduce stream instability..

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      Completed Projects

      Dillwater Log Jams

      Making log jam

      Building a log jam using only wood and native streambed materials.

      HRCP staff developed and implemented this first-of-its-kind project with the Chelan County Natural Resources Department. We designed and installed five engineered log jams on the Entiat River which were based on "geomimetic design principles." This was based upon prior research into how naturally-arranged wood accumulations in reference reaches are naturally stable and long-lived. Subsequent monitoring continues to show that these structures are providing excellent fish habitat and continue to be stable without the use of artificial cable or imported rock.

      Log jams at work

      Aerial view of two completed log jams.

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        Entiat National Fish Hatchery Instream Enhancements


        Viewing a portion of the enhanced side channel at the Entiat NFH.

        This was a two-phased project beginning in 2009 which was completed in 2014. Working with the Entiat National Fish Hatchery, the Cascadia Conservation District, NRCS, and the Bureau of Reclamation, HRCP staff completed removal of a relict, non-functional levee, built a series of log habitat structures, and enhanced a side channel for fish habitat improvement.

        Entiat project

        Completed wood structure based on natural log jam research.

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        Hancock Springs Restoration Phase 1

        Hancock Springs

        Hancock Springs before and after restoration.

        Working hand-in-hand with the Yakama Nation, we restored a wetland and stream channel which had been degraded by a dairy operation for over 50 years. Using innovative construction techniques, the formerly wide, shallow, and silty spring creek was transformed into the most productive steelhead and spring Chinook spawning habitat in the Upper Columbia Basin. We remade the landscape into a narrow stream with riffles and deep pools, surrounded by extensive wetlands for wildlife. A large monitoring effort continues to help quantify the beneficial effects of this project which seems to improve year after year. View a video of Phase 1...

        Hancock Springs

        The new channel is 6 to 8 feet wide with spawning riffles and deep pools.

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        Upper Beaver Creek Channel Relocation

        Upper Beaver Creek

        Installing a new fish-friendly irrigation diversion.

        Built in 2012 with the Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation, this section of Beaver Creek had been channelized and caused frequent damage to the adjacent county road, as well as blocking fish passage at an irrigation diversion. HRCP staff helped design and build a new (old!) channel away from the road where it had previously flowed in the distant past. This immediately provided steelhead with new spawning and rearing habitat and slowed the velocities due to the longer channel length. The landowners were eager to have a better-functioning diversion which now provides more predictable water and requires less maintenance. This area was burned in the Carlton Complex Fire of 2014 and we happened to catch some really neat footage of the burn on one of our habitat monitoring cameras!

        Hancock Springs

        The restored stream channel has excellent habitat diversity and riparian vegetation.

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        Pioneer Ditch Water Conservation

        Upper Beaver Creek

        Removing the old Pioneer Dam.

        After many years of planning, in 2013 a precedent-setting project on the Wenatchee River returned a large amount of flow during the critical low-flow periods of year. Trout Unlimited was the driving force behind securing money and completing analysis and design for a pressurized, on-demand system that has resulted in considerable water savings. The Pioneer Water Users Association is very pleased with the control and efficiency of their new system and the steelhead, salmon and bull trout are certainly happy to have an extra 38 cfs in the river from April to October. On some low-flow years like 2015, this can represent as much as 13% extra water left instream!

        Pioneer view

        Looking downstream at the site of the former dam/diversion.

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        White River Large Wood Atonement

        White River

        Installing piles to catch naturally mobile wood using a floating pile-driver and jet boat.

        The White River “Atonement Project” is an attempt to correct some of the excesses of early 20th century logging. Old growth cedars were removed from the floodplain and transported downstream to a mill on Lake Wenatchee. This left the river channel without log jams for fish habitat or a mature forest to slow flood waters and provide wildlife habitat. Through an innovative project with the Cascade Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group, we installed 128 vertical posts into the river to simulate the effect large logs once had in creating jams. Using a floating barge mounted with a custom pile-driver, the installation had no adverse construction impact to the river or uplands at all. A helicopter was then used to add whole trees to the river where the completed structures would catch natural wood floating downstream to create excellent habitat for steelhead, spring Chinook, sockeye, and bull trout. This project is continuously monitored for success, and we continue to be pleased at how well it is working.


        Aerial photo of the White River before the project.


        Aerial photo after pilings were installed-- already catching wood.

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        Middle Methow Riparian Restoration


        Riparian plants sometimes need irrigation until they are naturally-sustaining.

        This project is a great example of working collaboratively with a ranching family and the local land trust organization to improve riparian habitat for mutual benefits. The Methow River continues to see a declining cottonwood population which leads to streambank erosion, less shade, and diminished wildlife habitat. The landowner was interested in excluding cattle and restoring native vegetation to a site which had been heavily used for many decades. Three deer exclosures and intensive, deep-soil planting were necessary to ensure plant survival but early results indicate that things are growing quite well.


        Planting trees with a small trackhoe to get roots into the water table.

        Healthy plants

        Another property with new trees growing vigorously.

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        Chumstick Creek Fish Barrier Removals


        Before and after a barrier removal.

        Work on removing fish barriers in Chumstick Creek began in the early-2000's with the removal of a schoolbus: the front and back end had been cut off and the creek flowed completely through it! Beginning in 2009 and finally pulling our last culvert in 2013, many partners collectively helped to make Chumstick Creek once again open to steelhead throughout its entire length. Most of these barriers were undersized culverts beneath people's driveways; but one was a defunct irrigation diversion which created a 5 foot waterfall, and three were headcut stabilization structures. These were all replaced with full-span bridges, removed entirely, or re-graded with a natural stream channel. It is very satisfying to completely remove all the human barriers in a watershed and watch the fish recolonize it after so many decades of absence. And although this stream is so small you can often jump across it, the significant numbers of steelhead that have since returned to spawn don’t seem to think size is an issue!

        Healthy plants

        Site of a former culvert and fish passage barrier on Chumstick Creek.

        Healthy plants

        One of 21 new bridges installed to remove a former fish passage barrier.

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Last Updated: October 9, 2014
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