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 and 2018 created optimal conditions for transforming the site. As of 2021, 43 BDAs have been built and adapted 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 2018, we measured an increase in the channel length of 23%, which is 486 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 over four feet in places. That means the stream is four feet closer to its floodplain, and on its way to overflowing 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
Before & After:
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.
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!
Volunteers help OHA weave branches in the posts. This creates an interface that slows the water down and traps sediment. Sediment accumulation raises the stream bed. As the water table rises, our 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.
Riparian plantings are a key part of the restoration of the Triple Creek site. Plantings are intended to 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.
This slideshow shows the evolution of a planting plot in 2016, 2018, and 2021.