Winter Floods and Mild Temps

The winter and spring rains have kept us inside quite a bit, but we’ve kept our eye on the restoration area. The most notable flood event was December 27-30, 2015. Our on-site rain gauge measured 7.64 inches in the three day period, and water depth on the USGS gauge read at 19 feet for December 28, 2015! Check out the slideshow of in-stream flood pictures below.

The flooding reached into Archey Creek Park, covering the field and spilling into the bathroom and concession stand. Our restoration is not meant to prevent this type of flooding. Floods like these will naturally occur periodically because Archey Creek Park was built in the floodplain with the purpose of accommodating the flows of a fairly large water system. Flooding allows the fish community and other aquatic species to access the floodplain, typically a terrestrial and disconnected land. By allowing flood waters to access the floodplain, aquatic species get to gorge themselves on frogs and other critters that are usually unavailable to them.  As a byproduct they fill the pond as well – better fishing!  The nutrients from the water also nourish the land, making the grass greener and trees healthier. For a natural ecosystem, flooding is a wonderful thing, but for joggers and ball players, we understand that it is a bit of an inconvenience. This is one way that humans and nature coexist within a river’s boundary.

Despite all of the high water, the restoration site is still doing stellar with all structures performing just as expected. A section of the new walking trail, however, was…well…compromised. Unfortunately, this segment of the trail was placed too close to the stream bank, and the flood waters undercut the pavement. It was pretty impressive and a reminder of how powerful water can be, particularly in places without large tree root systems already established.

Needless to say, repairs are underway and set to be completed by May 2016. The trail has been moved farther from the stream to protect it from flood damage like this. Pavement has already been poured, and Geocell, an erosion control product, will be installed on both sides of the trail. Geocell is a honeycomb shape of welded, high-density polyethylene strips. It will eliminate rutting around the trail edges and still allow water to drain through. Because so many visitors frequent the park, there are plans in the making to expand the trail system. This will allow walkers and nature viewers to access more of the park, see more views of the restoration project and river scenery, and raise that heart rate!

After these spring rains and the Geocell is installed, we should be in good shape for the summer. We’re looking forward to seeing you on the trail soon!

111124_Redshoulderedhawk_Frame28

A red-shouldered hawk hunts for prey along the j-hook structure.

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