Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Granite Creek Gets "X-Stream Makeover"!!


by Carrie Cordova


Recovery of native fish species is one of the many important tasks of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. As a biologist working for the USFWS,  I was thrilled to work with the Washington (State) Department of Fish and Wildlife and Idaho Panhandle National Forest on a new and exciting project in Granite Creek, located in a sub-basin of the Pend Oreille River watershed. 

Large wood is an important component of native fish habitat because it provides cover and increases pool habitat. In the project’s planning stages, we were eager to see what fish would do when lots of whole trees and many pieces of large wood were placed in the extremely degraded stream.

Our fearless sawyer strategically felled trees into the stream from the adjacent stream bank and, with the help of others and a grip hoist, dragged large dead wood from the stream bank into the stream. Almost immediately following placement of a large log or tree into the stream, fish came, reveling in this newfound habitat! 

Compared to traditional log placement techniques that utilize heavy equipment, this was a very low budget project and resulted in minimal environmental impact and miles of newly created quality fish habitat.  This pilot project shows great success for resident fish in Granite Creek and gives us hope that this technique will be improved upon for future restoration. We are delighted!

Photo 1:  Process of using grip hoist to transfer large dead wood from streambank into stream (Photo credit: Carrie Cordova, USFWS)

Photo 2:  Large wood presence in Granite Creek (Photo credit: Carrie Cordova, USFWS)