Photo: Jay Mather.

A Tale of Two Restorations

Apr 01, 2021 by Jana Hemphill
The Land Trust will be embarking on two multi-year stream restoration projects along Whychus Creek. Both projects have the same goals, but will take different approaches to achieve these goals.

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This summer, the Land Trust will be embarking on two multi-year stream restoration projects along Whychus Creek—one at Willow Springs Preserve and another at Rimrock Ranch. Both projects have the same goals: to increase the variety of habitats both in the stream and along the stream, to reconnect Whychus Creek to surrounding meadows, and to make the entire stream system stronger.

Willow Springs Preserve
At Willow Springs Preserve, the restoration project will use a low-tech approach, transforming a single channel into a braided series of channels that spreads out across the valley floor.

An artist rendering of Whychus Creek at Willow Springs Preserve, as it looks today. There is only one main channel. Image: Maisie Richards, UDWC/Anabranch
  An artist rendering of Whychus Creek at Willow Springs Preserve, 2-4 years after restoration work begins. Notice the multi-braided channels. Image: Maisie Richards, UDWC/Anabranch

Approximately 130 different structures made of natural materials will be added to a 3/4 mile stretch of Whychus Creek. Most of these will be post assisted log structures, which look like log jams in the stream but instead they are constructed with vertical wooden posts that are angled against placed logs in order to provide stability. These will be used to shift the flow of the creek in certain directions.

Smaller dam-like structures will also be built on side channels to imitate beaver dams, create pools, and help connect Whychus Creek to the surrounding meadow. Neither structure type is intended to be permanent and, instead, will change and evolve as stream processes take over. Finally, in fall ~3,500 plants will be added to the restoration area to provide stream shade, soil stability, and habitat for wildlife. We will complete two additional restoration phases at Willow Springs Preserve over the next 5-10 years. Dive deeper into this project.


Rimrock Ranch
Meanwhile, downstream at Rimrock Ranch, Whychus Creek looks a bit different. The creek is more confined in its current channel, making it very difficult to connect it to the rest of the meadow. Similar to the restoration work we completed in 2016 at Whychus Canyon Preserve, bulldozers and diggers will move a lot of dirt in order to allow Whychus Creek to move across the valley floor once again. Woody debris will be added to the creek and the surrounding meadow, and the creek will then flow through the newly created surfaces and existing pools. In the fall, we will add 37,000 plants to complement the islands of established mature vegetation that will be left throughout the restoration area. The project area will then be left alone to rest, recover, and naturally evolve and grow.

We look forward to seeing how Whychus Creek evolves over time at both properties. Stay tuned for more details!

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