Setting the stage for nature

Sep 08, 2016
With the construction phase of the Whychus Creek restoration at Whychus Canyon Preserve now complete, it’s a great time to look back on another Land Trust creek restoration project and remember just how much things will change.

With the construction phase of the Whychus Creek restoration at Whychus Canyon Preserve now complete, it’s a great time to look back on another Land Trust creek restoration project and remember just how much things will change.

Photos of the creek restoration at Whychus Canyon Preserve are certainly dramatic: large earth-movers, dust and dirt, and a creek bare of vegetation paint a striking picture. It takes a herculean effort to move a creek, and it often looks like a mess before it looks better. But we have to start somewhere. And we’ve seen this before.

In 2012, the Land Trust and our restoration partners completed a multi-year restoration of Whychus Creek and Camp Polk Meadow Preserve. It too, began with a lot of earth-moving and dust making as a new channel was constructed along the creek’s historic route through the meadow. In 2009, it didn’t look like much, especially because the full flow of Whychus Creek would not be in the restored channel for another three years:

Whychus Creek at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve in 2009.  Photo: Land Trust.
Whychus Creek at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve in 2009. Photo: Land Trust.

 

When water finally did flow in the restored channel, we saw amazing transformations at Camp Polk Meadow. Groundwater levels began to rise making the meadow greener year-round. Streamside vegetation also began to take root and thrive. Winter rains brought flooding that reinvigorated meadow soils with nutrients and water. And the meadow continues to transform each year becoming a better home for fish and wildlife:

Whychus Creek at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve in 2016. Photo: Kris Kristovich.
Whychus Creek at Camp Polk Meadow Preserve in 2016. Photo: Kris Kristovich.

 

With the construction phase of restoration complete at Whychus Canyon Preserve, we’ve already seen a lot of change. Water now flows once again in the meadows and cottonwood groves of the Preserve. New log jams and islands have added complex habitat to the creek where there was once none. The old channel is blocked and filled with soil and rocks, and new vegetation is already sprouting. But it still looks a little raw.

Whychus Creek shortly after construction completed at Whychus Canyon Preserve. Photo: Land Trust.
Whychus Creek shortly after construction completed at Whychus Canyon Preserve. Photo: Land Trust.

 

Take heart, in October we will plant 60,000 more plants to change the picture and come next spring those plants will green up and begin to thrive. Two years from now it will look even better. Nature will thrive again at Whychus Canyon Preserve and we’ve just taken the first steps to help her along.

Learn more about the restoration: