On Thursday, September 3rd SPSSEG Project Manager, Kim Gridley, ENTRIX Engineer, Chad Krofta, and Onsite Inspector Dan Blatt got down and dirty under Highway 7 in the Ohop Valley.
Their are 2 bridges that cross highway 7 in the Ohop Valley. One conveys the current Ohop Creek flow. The other currently acts as an overflow channel and conveys water from a mid-valley ditch under the highway. By this time next year all of the flow of Ohop Creek will be directed under this bridge. In accordance, this bridge will be getting a bit of facelift as part of the Ohop Restoration Project. This year the contractor, RV associate will be adding some armoring to the bridge footings and adjacent banks. IN preparation for that work, the deep scour pool under the bridge needed to be dewatered, and all of the living organisms needed to be collected and relocated. Below is a short description of that experience…
I had recieved a call on wednesday that we needed to get the fish out of the highway 7 scour pool the following day. During a Western Washington fish-out we usually expect to find trout species such as cutthroat, rainbow, and perhaps even a few Coho salmon. In addition, sculpin, freshwater eels, and crayfish are very common.
I showed up on Thursday morning with all of my block nets, dip nets, and bucket ready to go. I walked up to the edge of the bank and looked down about ten feet into this deep, dark mud hole. At least 5-6 feet of water had already been pumped, so I asked, “How much water is left down there in that hole?” Dan’s reply was, “Ahh, about 3-4 feet.” SO I suited up grabbed my buckets and nets and worked my way down through the muck. With each sweep of our nets we captured pollywogs, juvenile frogs (with legs and tails), Sunfish, Catfish, salamanders, Carp, Bass, Sticklebacks and large water bugs. We did, however, see a few freshwater eels but no trout, salmon, crayfish, or even sculpin. After much consideration over what to do with all of these introduced species, it was decided that we would move them to another pond in the same ditch upstream.
Your first question is probably the same as mine…”How did all of these warm water species get into a Western Washington stream?” I think a few things happened here. First, a few miles upstream is Ohop Lake. Ohop lake is (or was) very likely stocked by local residents and others. In addition, Ohop creek is listed for high temperatures which has led to part of the project which will reforest 80 acres of riparian and wetland habitat. This massive planting project will ultimately shade the stream and insulate the water from the heat of the sun, especially on those hot summer days.
Every week I will post highlights from the on site inspectors report. The Inspector is taking daily notes on progress, difficulties, etc. At the end of each construction week (Mon- Thurs), these notes are forwarded to the project manager in the form a summary.
Test pits were dug on both Tuesday and Wednesday of this week with ground water not being encountered until depths of between 6.5 and 11.5 feet were dug EXCEPT near Hwy 7 which encountered water at 4.5 feet.. Test hole photos were taken and Mark the operator laid out ‘scoops’ side by side by side with at- depth materials, showing turf, alluvium, sandier mix and then bluish clay. We were pleased with the groundwater so deep. It appeared as if the excavator had NOT been steam cleaned recently and I mentioned this to Ben. Prior to channel construction it’s a requirement of the permits.
A critical reference photo is WHERE the new channel will come into the existing one. Since the control –verified staking is NOT yet installed, we agreed next mid-week would be good for a site visit for completing the photo point establishment.
His main needs are photo opportunities for tracking:
CHANGES IN HYDROLOGY
CHANGES IN VEGETATION
STABILITY OF NEW CHANNEL
CHANNEL FORM / RESPONSE ..is it incising? Staying put?
TYPICAL LWD STRUCTURES AND X-SECTIONS
These photos show on-site construction progress of the Ohop Valley Restoration Project for the week of August 10th through the 14th. Highlights include:
- Staging of Large Woody Debris (LWD) for the area upstream of Hwy 7.
- Beginning excavation and grading of the Side-channel Ditch.
- WADOT Specified Streambed Cobble
Construction of the Ohop Valley Restoration Project culminates nearly a decade of planning and design!
The Nisqually Land Trust property, the historical Peterson Farm, in the Ohop Basin straddles Hwy. 7, a major thoroughfare to mountain communities and the Mt. Rainier National Park, Longmire entrance.
The Nisqually Indian Tribe originally identified the Ohop watershed restoration as a primary priority habitat for Chinook Salmon Recovery in their 2002 Chinook Recovery Plan. Since that time plans have been underway to restore a 4 mile stretch of agricultural ditch, the current Ohop Creek, into a 6 mile meandering channel and wetland complex, resembling the historical Ohop Creek alignment.
The first phase of this project, resulting in 1.2 miles of restored stream, has been in development for the past 2 years. ENTRIX Environmental has worked closely with SPSPEG staff, the landowner (NLT) and adjacent community members, and technical advisors from the Nisqually Indian Tribe, USFWS, NRCS, WADOT, WDFW, Pierce County and Conservation District to develop a design that will reach restoration goals for.
These goals include:
- Building a meandering channel of historical elevation that will improve hydrological connectivity within the floodplain, Increasing channel and floodplain complexity through the addition of Large Woody Debris (LWD) structures and Thorough re-vegetaion of 80 acres of valley floor with native wetland and riparian plant communities.
- In addition, consideration to infrastructure including Hwy. 7 and Peterson road prisms and associated bridges, flooding impacts on adjacent neighbors, and multiple ditches to contend with have added complexity to design options.
Interesting story! The Olympian covered the transfer from Alder Lake of some of the wood pieces that will be used in the project this summer. Take a look here:
Logs and other woody debris delivered during winter storms to the reservoir behind Alder Dam are a safety hazard for boaters and a headache for Tacoma Power maintenance crews in this popular recreation area near Mount Rainier.
But that same assortment of wood is a blessing for salmon habitat restoration projects in the tributaries of the Nisqually River, including Ohop Creek near Eatonville.
So the Tacoma utility and partners in a major Ohop Creek restoration project teamed up last week to move about 100 logs from Alder Lake several miles down the river valley to ground zero of the Ohop Creek project.
They put their trust in the team of Eatonville contractor Max Swick and log truck driver John Zizer, who carefully negotiated a loaded truck across the narrow causeway atop the 1,500-foot-long dam, flanked by the lake on one side and the Nisqually River 330 feet below the dam on the other side.