Since spring 2019, some of the willows planted at Triple Creek have become mature enough to bear catkins, commonly called, “pussywillows.”
The Triple Creek site has undergone dramatic changes since 2016 when the first 26 beaver dam analogues (BDAs) were installed. Intense flooding during the spring freshets of 2017, 2018 and 2022 created optimal conditions for transforming the site. As of 2022, 43 BDAs have been built and modified to respond to changing site conditions. Our team’s objectives for the stream are being realized more rapidly than expected.
Topographic surveys of the site measure changes in Myers Creek’s channel length and depth. Between 2015 and 2021, we measured an increase in the channel length of 24%, which is 420 additional feet of stream. A longer channel helps by reducing the slope of the stream, allowing water to meander rather than rush through the channel. The longer the water stays in the project area, the healthier the wetland can become. Measurements of channel depth show that the stream bottom has risen as much as 7 feet in places! That means the stream is seven feet closer to its floodplain, and on its way to overflowing its banks once again.
“The thing that impressed me the most about the project is the amount of change that [occurred] in a short period of time… Working there’s been a pretty amazing transformation really fast, so it’s really encouraging to see that happen.”
– Triple Creek volunteer
The graph above shows the elevation of the creek bottom plotted versus the relative distance along the reach of the Triple Creek Project. Points A-D on the graph are comparable to the points labeled on the aerial images below.
Aerial view of Triple Creek Project area shows where sediment has built up (aggraded) and scoured (eroded). Cooler colors signify aggradation and warmer colors signify erosion. Both processes are facilitated by BDAs in the creek, and both are critical to the restoration of the stream and wetland.
Aerial view of theTriple Creek Project shows that Myers Creek is longer and more sinuous now than it was before the project started.
A bird’s eye view of the project from before and after OHA and our team installed BDAs at Triple Creek. Myers Creek is much more visible from the road, as the streambed is not as far down in the incision trench! Thank you to Triple Creek land steward Sandy Vaughn for taking the 2019 photo!
This slideshow shows an example of the dramatic widening along the channel since before the first BDAs were installed in 2015, after initial BDA installation in 2016, and during spring freshet in 2021.
Additional before and after photos from 2016 to 2018 in the slideshow at right. Notice how the stream has widened and become more curved, slowing the water and holding it high in the watershed.
Riparian plantings are a key part of the restoration of the Triple Creek site. We choose plant species that can tolerate a variety of hydrologic conditions, in anticipation of changing conditions over time. Some plants will provide food and habitat for a variety of species including beaver, which we hope will one day take over the wetland restoration activities at the site. Other plants may eventually fall into the stream to improve channel structure and habitat.
This slideshow shows the evolution of a planting plot in 2016, 2018, and 2021.