During the restoration process, we use game cameras to monitor the site to see how our structures perform during flood events, capture footage of construction work, and track wildlife usage. The pictures and videos are used in presentations, reports, and social media outlets such as this blog. On September 8, 2014, we experienced not only a harvest moon but also a supermoon.
Behold, the Super Harvest Moon!
This video was taken in Phase 1 Bend 1, looking downstream from the j-hook structure.
http://earthsky.org/space/harvest-moon-2#super offers more information on what occurred this particular date as well as definitions of a harvest moon and supermoon.
As I end the day by gazing at a big full winter moon in the sky, I think to myself what a wonderful, cold, yet sun-shiny post-flood day I got to spend outside. Since December, 2009 I have spent most Christmas holiday breaks watching the weather, precipitation gauges, and stream gauges anticipating high river flows for the stream sites we’ve restored. This often brings feelings of excitement and anticipation… and perhaps a little anxiety as I wait to see how Mother Nature will respond to our attempt to restore the right dimension, pattern, and profile to her river. On December 21st, 2014 one short day after completing Phase one’s construction, Clinton received a large amount of rain on already saturated soils and our project was put to the test. This holiday break proves to be no less exciting than last years!
After loading up the family this sunny and frigid morning and heading north, I knew it was the perfect time to visit the Archey project. Mr. Steve Bone, after checking the rain gauge onsite, let me know that after 3.5 days of rain we received 8.04 inches in total! Looking at the South Fork Little Red River gauge, it was on the falling limb of a very large spike in flow – almost 10,000 cfs! I couldn’t wait to check game cameras, take pictures, and see it for myself. The clouds cleared and I was able to take great pictures and video of all our structures under high flow. I couldn’t be more pleased with our results, so I raced back to my computer to download the footage and get it posted ASAP….
First, you can view this short clip of construction of the toewood structure in Phase II ending with the flood event of January 2-3, 2015. You will notice the water rose almost up to bankfull elevation and well above the toewood structure onto the transplants on the first bench. One of our cameras upstream even went under water!
Finally, check out these photos taken today on the falling side of the flood starting from upstream in Phase I, going all the way through 5 riffles and 3 pools to the downstream end of Phase II. Notice all the great riffle boulder habitat that creates the large waves, perfect for boating, during high flows. This also happens to make great habitat for the Yellowcheek darter and many other riffle obligate fish!
As we wrap up our work on Phase 2 of the project, you’ll be sure to see more of our construction footage and subsequent floods. To complete this year’s work, we are teaming with the City to remove the invasive species Chinese Privet that has taken over much of the park area. We will replace that area with large hardwood tree transplants from other areas of the river corridor. This will insure the long-term stability of the stream banks once the larger tree roots take hold. We are also helping to layout the additional walking trail that allow people to walk the entire restoration project and see the good work that’s been done from upstream to down! Feel free to pose questions and/or comments on the project here on our weblog! Thanks for your continued support and interest!
One way that we will measure success of the restoration effort is to monitor the fish community. Why? Well, for one, Archey Fork used to be a place where you could cast a line from the bank or a kayak, and we hope to regain that relaxing recreation. Fishes are used as indicators of habitat quality and water chemistry. So many factors affect the presence and abundance of certain fish species such as oxygen levels, substrate type, and water velocity. One of our many partners in this project, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ), sampled the fish community this fall for the first, post-construction sample, and we already notice a difference! Yellowcheek darters have been missing from this stretch of the Archey Fork Little Red since the channelization occurred in the late 1980’s, but this fall – less than a year after installation of the enhanced boulder riffle in Phase I – we discovered a Yellowcheek living there!! This is an amazing find since the species is an endemic and endangered species. An endemic species is one that is only found in a specific location. The Yellowcheek is endemic to the Little Red River system.
A barge shocker was used to collect fish species in pools, and a seine net was used to collect species in riffles. A seine was used in the riffles because the most sensitive, threatened, and/or endangered species in the upper Little Red are found in riffle habitats, and electroshocking units can stress these fishes. They’re tender little fellas, so we have to sample their habitat gingerly and return them to the stream as soon as we identify them.
Aquatic insects, or macroinvertebrates, were also sampled in these sites. Macroinvertebrates are used as biological indicators just like fishes but sometimes can tell a different story. Think of an ant verses a grasshopper. If if kid spills a slurpee in a park, the grasshopper could simply fly or hop away. The ant is so tiny, though, and it takes longer for it to move out of the area. Macroinvertebrates are somewhat stuck where they are due to limited mobility, whereas fishes can migrate long distances. Also, the lifetime of a macroinvertebrate is shorter than that of a fish. Sampling both of these groups will give a more comprehensive, short-term, and small-scale story. This biological monitoring project will track changes and developments in the fish and macroinvertebrate communities for the years 2012 (pre-restoration), 2014 (post-Phase I construction), 2016 (post-Phase II and potentially Phase III), and 2018 (post-Archey Fork restoration). We hope to find a higher species richness and a stronger showing of sensitive, threatened, and/or endangered species each year in Archey Fork, in addition to habitat for many of the game fish that made this stretch of river quite a popular fishing spot in the past. It looks positive so far, and the town has every right to be proud of it’s work in progress.
We are long past due for an update, but we’ve been hard at work on Phase II of the restoration project which is now nearly complete! First – check out this short slide show that captures several flood events that have occurred since last years work. You will see how great the toe-wood structure functions to keep the high velocities of the river in the center of the channel sparing many river birch and sycamore trees from being eroded away into the river.
Also, read this great story written about the project this month in the Arkansas Times!
Lastly, look at a few photos of how great our transplants of alder, willow, sycamore, and river birch survived and thrived after the first growing season, a great success!
Phase I restoration efforts continue to amaze us. After a couple of big rains and a bankfull event (just a short 4 months after construction was finished), our structures are maintaining and performing wonderfully. As with any stream restoration project, the river will make its final touches in order to settle in with the new alterations. Needless to say, we like what we see. The toewood is holding strong, protecting the banks from further erosion as water flows around the bend. Point bars are building on the inside of the bends as water deposits gravel and sand in lower velocities. The boulders in our riffles have settled in nicely with small scour holes around them creating refuge for fishes and aquatic insects. It all looks great!
Toewood and j-hook structures give immediate protection to the stream banks as trees and grasses have the chance to recolonize and serve as the long-term protection tool against any future stream instability. The roots from these plants protect the banks from erosion even after our structures are gone. The survival of these transplanted trees is key to our restoration efforts. It is always a concern that uprooting shrubs and trees and replanting them will cause too much stress, and the plant may not survive. This project was particularly interesting because we were able to use trees from the immediate restoration site that were already accustomed to the soil, temperatures, amount of sunlight, and rainfall that occur on the banks of Archey Fork. We are seeing a lot of growth from both the transplants and live stakes; however, to ensure their survival throughout the summer, our crew has installed a small irrigation system. If there is a drought, these birch, willow, alder, and sycamore trees won’t have to go through additional stress.
Thanks for checking in on Phase I. We’ll be gearing up for Phase II before you know it!
The day has come and Phase I of this project is complete! Take a sneak peek and click on a few photos below to see the finished project following a significant flow event that occurred just one day after construction was complete! Stay tuned for a full post including more details of the last month of project construction as well as photos and video during high flows.
-Joy DeClerk, Project Lead