As of 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. The first structures were installed in 2016, in the field season before two years of intense flooding, creating optimal conditions for transforming the site. As Myers Creek interacts with the human-made beaver dams, the team’s objectives for the stream are being realized more rapidly than expected. During the exceptionally high flows, the creek was able to do a lot of work.
The restoration team conducts regular topographic surveys of the project, which means that we can measure changes in channel length, shape, and depth. Between 2015 and 2018, we measured an increase in the channel length of 23%, which is 486 additional feet of stream! How does a longer channel help? It means the slope is flatter, and the channel can become more stable. Our team has also measured the bottom of the channel rising over four feet in places. That means the stream is four feet closer to its floodplain in those locations, and on its way to flowing out of its banks once again.
2014 to 2017: Change over time, juxtaposed (slide the white vertical bar)
“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
We are excited to share almost three years of change at Triple Creek, condensed into two minutes! Watch the stream become wider and rise closer to the floodplain. OHA thanks the US Fish and Wildlife Service for installing and maintaining the time lapse cameras at Triple Creek, in addition to contributing in so many ways.
Before & After:
The photos from this camera point are another example of the dramatic widening along the channel since the project’s beginning. Thank you to Jason Llewellyn for contributing the photo on the right!
Here is a “bigger picture” look at the site from before and after OHA and our team installed BDAs at Triple Creek. Myers Creek is much more visible from the road now, as the streambed is not as far down in the incision trench! You can also see the newest planting plot. Thank you to Triple Creek land steward Sandy Vaughn for taking the 2019 photo!
In this part of the stream channel, the streambed used to be far below the floodplain. These photos, taken in 2016, 2017, and 2018, show how the bottom of the stream has risen nearer to the top of the bank. It is no longer such a long way down!
Here, volunteers and workers are weaving branches in the posts, creating an interface that slows the water down. This causes sediment to accumulate on the streambed, raising the stream. Also, as the water table rises, our restoration team has measured a rise in the groundwater near the stream.
View more before and after photos from 2016 to 2018 in the slideshow at right. Notice how the stream has both become wider and has more bends in it now. The way a stream meanders is crucial to its stability and health. The BDAs have increased the distance that Myers Creek travels through the project area, decreasing the slope of the channel. This meandering reduces the velocity of the water and in the future may result in less erosion. As the channel becomes more diverse, it will be better able to support diverse forms of life in the aquatic and plant communities in and around the stream. As the streambed gets closer to the floodplain, more water will be stored onsite, and the water table will be closer to the surface, benefiting both the plants and the wildlife.