It's Summer Time! And in our continued attempt to restore and protect this beautiful resource, Canyon Crew has been diligently removing invasive plant materials, and expanding their "toolbox" of tricks to insure safe travels in and around the canyon trail system. In addition to mastering the terrestrial aspects of the canyon restoration, Canyon Crew has been working to stabilize and solidify the area under the theater building. Years of misuse and neglect have caused large areas under the theater to erode into the creek, silting the gravels that are needed for successful fish spawning.
We are fortunate to be caretakers of such a beautiful natural resource- and insuring clean water and safe passage for fish is part of our goal-set. If you remember our creek leaves Reed Lake as a 5-foot wide, swift moving clean body of water-, which then meanders though a densely vegetated wetland forest. As it approaches the theater building the meandering becomes less so, and the creek nears an almost straitened-flow essentially ‘blowing-out’ under the theater to a width of 16feet wide. This widening effect then makes for a more shallow section of stream- essentially creating a barrier for our migratory wildlife. Historically our springs flow between 4 and 7 cubic feet per second (cfs), which is great if the stream channel is deep, narrow and has enough off channel pools and protection with overhanging vegetation. But when spread over a large area the dept is lost and travel becomes limited. I have noticed in the recent past that larger fish coming to Reed Canyon to spawn would literally get stuck on the small gravels under the building not allowing access to their desired spawning area, essentially forcing fish to retreat and look for less-ideal gravels downstream. With minimal channel deepening we could create a passable section under the building and call that good, but within this particular area of degradation a widened stream results in a slower flow, and this slowing effect encourages suspended solids to deposit into the pools we created resulting in a stream-bed that would then over time return to a impassible gravel bar-
So in order to sustain the work and time that we put into this project we have come up with an idea that changes the velocity of the creek all the while providing structure and habitat for aquatic critters.
In short, we have seen that as we create deepened pools for rest along the stream corridor, the introduction of large-woody debris (logs, root wads) on the up-stream side of the pool pinches the creek and speeds up the water, which then scours the pools- keeping them free of organic debris. Over time this change in flow maintains our needs to have a more irregular stream bed- and is regarded as a more idealistic spawning habitat.
With this project in mind, this last spring we were able to coordinate with the construction team working on the new Performance Art Building at the western edge of campus- and use their crane and personal to lower 15-tons of boulders down the steep slope off Botsford Drive to the edge of the theater building.
So now we have to move all that rock?
So with some ingenuity and imagination Canyon Crew was able to construct a ‘rock mover’ (for lack of a better name) out of two tire chains and two non-native maple trees- making moving large rock easy for two able bodied Reedies. The work will be ongoing and the results will be based on this projects ability to withstand canyon-goers and their natural instinct to move and disrupt the efforts prior to their visits. Under the theater you’ll see the benefits of the large wood being placed in these pools being complimented by the placement of boulders and river rock along the stream edge, which acts to protect the new meander and limits the impact of visitors to that sensitive area.
So next time you visit Reed Canyon take a closer look at the flow of the creek- notice the large logs that have been introduced- you now have the insight that there is a deep pool there and if you can get close enough, a great vantage point to see fish at rest.