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.
Strong growth from the rootball of this willow tree
Thanks for checking in on Phase I. We’ll be gearing up for Phase II before you know it!
Little Rock Garden Club field trip March 18, 2014
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
ice on newly constructed riffle, looking downstream
Constructed RIffle 1 – we opened the new channel starting here
Constructred Riffle #1, looking downstream
View of JHook “arm”, looking upstream
Bend 1 Toewood, looking upstream
Bend 1 Toewood
newly constructed riffle (#2) between Bend 1 and Bend 2 toewood structures
Riffle flow through large boulders
Project construction is nearing the end! In the months of October and November, we’ve completed two, 500+ linear feet toewood structures and transplanted nearly 50 trees on the outside banks of the Archey Fork river. These trees consisted of willows, alders, sycamore, and river birch – all extracted onsite!
We held field tours of the project site on October 22nd for the Clinton Chamber of Commerce group and guests, and again on November 19th for The Nature Conservancy Board of Trustees and members of The Nature Conservancy’s North America Management Team. Joy DeClerk also delivered a project update to the Upper Little Red Audubon Society on the evening of October 22nd.
We want to thank the local people of Clinton for engaging with us as we implement this project. We have been excited to see your active involvement, questions, and enthusiasm for what we anticipate to be a big enhancement to the City Park, the floodplain, and the river and all of its inhabitants. Please see the series of photos for the work that has been completed to date.
As we begin to butt up against mother nature’s plans for this winter with rain, ice, and snow accumulating over the last week, we are focused solely on our last task at hand – the J-Hook structure. This is the last structure we are building before finally opening up the channel and allowing the main flow of water through the newly constructed river bends. Once weather allows, we anticipate this final structure complete within a week’s time.
We have made some serious progress folks! Ok, here’s the skinny: The toewood structure begins with laying foundation logs at specified angles to the tangent lines along the curve of a stream bank (see first diagram). Following this, root wad logs are cantilevered over the foundation logs with the root wads facing the stream, a.k.a. prime fish habitat! (see diagram 2) Then we place trash wood (tree tops, limbs, etc) on top of the root wad logs and back fill with soil. That is where we are as of today. The rest of this week will be spent backfilling, sloping and grading the new stream bank. Please take a look at the structure diagrams & photos below, and compiled game camera shots we’ve put together for you (our video is live at: http://youtu.be/gaFRi-ech4s our second video is live at: http://youtu.be/SnO19kJX20A ). Follow along as we progress through the completion of this structure. We are excited about our quick progress and look forward to keeping you posted as we continue!
Joy DeClerk – Project Lead
Foundation Log placement: Courtesy of Wildland Hydrology
Root wad placement: Courtesy of Wildland Hydrology
Mitchell and Bonnie
Foundation log placement
Root wad placement
Root wads, looking downstream
Willow cuttings placed behind root wads
After several months of hauling material on site, completing the project flood model, processing & receiving permits, and ordering equipment rental, we finally arrived to the start date – appropriately the day after labor day! This day has been long awaited by all of the TNC team members, partners, and local Clinton advocates of the project. A big thank you again to Mr. Dwight Hutto for donating the tornado damaged trees from his property to be used for such an important purpose. We not only got the pleasure of meeting and befriending Mr. Hutto, but also hearing many of his stories, often leaving us in belly laughter!
As many of you are probably wondering, what is the order of things for the project implementation? Well, first the important things – Erosion Control! The first groundbreaking was to dig a sediment retention pond. We are in a nice dry spell right now with extremely low flows – just what the Dr ordered! But, if this summer is any indicator of weird & unusual weather, we know to be prepared for anything. So, although we are working in a very dry and small channel, we developed a series of levees to block all drainage from our construction area. From these levees and thus isolated ponds we can pump to the sediment retention pond if needed, should water rise, or rainfall come, so that the turbid water can settle out before we return it to the main channel. We also use hay bales at the outflow of each pond to further filter any running water. Bonnie mounted a rain gauge onsite and began documentation of our activities and best management practices – all important requirements of our state and federal permits.
excavation for toewood structure placement
Melissa and Mitchell
He’s in charge!
Bonnie filling out erosion control paperwork
Tornado tree harvest & hauling from Mr. Hutto’s property
Hauling in rootwads for toewood structures
Excavated Channel: prepared for log layout
Finally digging began. To install the toewood structure, it requires excavation of the existing bank – why? So when the rootwads are placed facing the stream, they are as low in the channel as possible to prevent premature decaying and so we can use the material we excavated as much needed back fill and good river soil to nourish our plantings and transplanted trees and shrubs. More info and pictures to come on this as we begin to build the toewood structure – stay tuned!
The amount of dirt to dig was a lot and we needed backup – so we ordered one more excavator onsite to help us get the job done quickly – Thank you Clark Machinery for providing a great machine on short notice. Aside from feeling a bit like digging in a giant sandbox (who doesn’t love that?) it took patience, planning (where are we putting all of this?), and persistence. Thanks to Aaron Reid (Reid & Sons Construction) who always has an eye for preparing for the next step, we are now in a place where we can begin building the first toewood structure. Take a look at our pictures from this first excellent week of work and stay tuned as we keep you updated along the way. Thank you for your interest in our project – our goal is to provide a quality river restoration project that eliminates excessive erosion of land, re-establishes much needed habitat for the fish and critters we love to see and catch, a project that we can all be proud of; a place where we can fish, swim and play. We appreciate the warm welcome many of you have given us as we begin this project and look forward to meeting more of you along the way!
Joy DeClerk – Project Lead