Willow Creek Watershed Restoration and Education Project
Bring Back the Natives Project #96-0092-028
January 1, 1996 through June 30, 1997
Prepared by Cindy Deacon Williams
Pacific Rivers Council
for USDA-FS Sawtooth National Forest
The Willow Creek Watershed Restoration and Education Project was initiated January 1, 1996. Project accomplishments since initiation cover a number of areas: watershed organizing, field review visits, establishment of restoration priorities, monitoring and education, and non-federal matching fund raising. A concise statement of project accomplishment in each area is provided below.
At the beginning of the project period, considerable effort was spent in planning for a Watershed Workshop, including development of an agenda, compilation of a interested public mailing list and drafting of a press release and letter of invitation. Originally the public workshop was scheduled for March 11, 1996. At the request of the Forest Service it was rescheduled for July 8, 1996, and ultimately canceled. Despite this fact, the effort was worthwhile. Planning for the workshop brought the federal agencies in regular contact with the Camas Soil Conservation District, Idaho Fish and Game, Camas County High School teachers, private landowners and permittees, and Pacific Rivers Council to discuss restoration needs and educational opportunities in the Willow Creek watershed. Throughout 1996 this group of individuals operated much like a loose watershed council in furthering the projects objectives. Furthermore, the extensive "Interested Parties" mailing list that was developed facilitated broader public participation in the field review visits-a fact that was particularly effective in producing 29 participants in the June 14, 1996 visit by Wayne Elmore, leader of the FS/BLM National Riparian Team.
Field Review Visits
Four major field reviews have been conducted since the project was initiated, including a visit by Dr. Charley Dewberry (PRC's watershed restoration specialist), Wayne Elmore (BLM), Patrick Joos (NFWF) and by the FS/BLM National Riparian Team.
Dr. Charley Dewberry visited the watershed June 7, 1996. Planning for the visit was initiated in May. In preparation for his visit, a two-page backgrounder summarizing general information about BLM-administered land in the watershed and its wildlife, range, vegetation, and minerals resources was prepared on June 4, 1996. Private landowners, permittees and agency personnel were notified of Dr. Dewberry's visit and invited to participate. Several local landowners and watershed permittees joined at least part of the watershed review. Dr. Dewberry's one-day visit identified problems associated with existing roads and abandoned mines as a primary concern within the watershed.
Wayne Elmore visited the watershed June 14, 1996. Planning for the visit was initiated in April. In addition to the BLM backgrounder prepared for the Dewberry visit, a similar summary of background information was prepared on June 14, 1996 for Forest Service-administered lands (copies of both are attached) and invitations to participate were extended to all interested members of the public as well as to personnel with the Forest Service and the BLM. This field review was very heavily attended, and in addition to providing Mr. Elmore with an opportunity to do some preliminary reconnaissance for the Riparian Team visit planned for later in the fall, it allowed a number of people interested in Willow Creek management decisions to tour the watershed and come to a common understanding of the problems it is facing and the biological and physical dynamics that are operating within it as well as receive an introductory training overview on stream dynamics.
Patrick Joos, NFWF Conservation Policy Staff, visited the watershed August 21, 1996. Planning for this visit was initiated August 8, 1996. Preparation for this visit provided the impetus for the project partners to update their project activity lists. Invitations to participate in the discussions were extended to additional landowners, permittees and other people with an interest in the Willow Creek watershed. The office component of the visit allowed for a discussion of the education (student monitoring and research; student field work to fulfill community service graduation requirements) and restoration (watershed planning, mine rehabilitation, allotment management, road repair/obliteration) components of the program. This discussion provided an overview of the project objectives that not only served to orient Mr. Joos, but also provided the first introduction to the project for a number of interested individuals in attendance who had not previously participated in any watershed organizing meetings or field reviews. The office discussion was followed by a field visit with stops to highlight private land restoration plans, and mine and allotment restoration plans on Forest Service and BLM-administered lands.
Preparation for this Field Tour
The FS/BLM National Riparian Team visited the watershed October 7-11, 1996. Planning for this visit was initiated April 18, 1996 with a letter from Gary Fullmer, Fairfield District Ranger, requesting the visit. The June 14, 1996 visit by Wayne Elmore helped in planning for this visit. Following that review trip, planning for the October Riparian Team assessment continued during late June and the months of July, August, September and early October (with considerable effort invested in coordinating the logistics, refining the review objectives, gathering and preparing the needed pre-visit materials, coordinating with landowners and permittees and among local, state and federal agencies). Public participation in the field review fluctuated, but generally was low with one landowner, Mark Toone, and one conservation group, Cindy Deacon Williams of Pacific Rivers Council, regularly in attendance. Public participation in the office close-out session on October 11 was heavier. At that time a preliminary assessment report was shared and discussed. A final assessment report was submitted Nov 13, 1996.
Establishment of Restoration Priorities
Discussion were ongoing through the period since project initiation regarding restoration priorities. However, consensus generally was reached at two points during this reporting period. During a May 31, 1996 meeting at the BLM offices in Shoshone a preliminary list of phase I projects was identified. A copy is attached. This preliminary list was revisited in preparation for the August 21, 1996 visit by Patrick Joos.
In addition, we solicited an estimate from Dr. William Weaver, Pacific Watershed Associates, of the cost of conducting a geomorphic assessment and developing an erosion control action plan. On August 21 a letter was received from Bill Weaver detailing the costs associated with two levels of work intensity (option 1=$57,200; option 2=67,600). It was determined that both options probably exceeded the current grant's funding capacity, so despite our strong desire to have the work done, it was postponed at this time.
Monitoring and Education
A coordination meeting was held March 7, 1996 with teachers and administrators from Camas County Schools, Community School of Ketchum and Wood River High School to identify opportunities to develop the educational component of the project. Because very little time remained to develop and implement anything prior to May releases for summer vacation, subsequent planning focused on preparation for activities during the fall 1996 term.
Camas County High School Monitoring Program.--The principal educational effort involved students from Camas County High School in the collection of baseline monitoring information. A preliminary identification of monitoring sites was made August 7, 1996. A full working plan (including a September 12, 1996 training day to instruct the students regarding monitoring protocols and a two-day commitment on September 19-20, 1996 to collecting information at ten monitoring sites) was prepared during an August 21, 1996 meeting. Planning for the training and monitoring days continued throughout late August and early September in order to finalize logistics, secure approval from several private landowners within the watershed to establish monitoring sites on their land, agree to monitoring protocols for the five monitoring groups and gather necessary equipment. As part of the pre-work for the monitoring, a Channel Condition Monitoring Handbook was prepared that outlined the "channel condition team" organization and duties, listed the equipment needed, defined and described the habitat parameters to be measured and the protocols to be followed. Similar, though less formalized, information was provided to the Riparian Condition, Water Chemistry, Fish Population, and Invertebrate Population teams.
On September 12, 1996, the 48 students divided into teams and received training from professionals (including personnel from the Idaho Department of Water Quality, Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Pacific Rivers Council, local consultants and the Bureau of Land Management and USDA Forest Service) on the different monitoring components. The training day was followed by two days of field work during which the students gathered baseline data at the different monitoring sites. Additional fish sampling and channel condition data was gathered on September 28, 1996 by Pacific Rivers Council at sites not reached during the two days of student field work. A preliminary draft monitoring report was prepared by the students by November 18, 1996. The following spring, on April 8, 1997 personnel from the BLM and Pacific Rivers Council presented data interpretation workshops to the students at Camas County High School that had collected the baseline information.
BLM Project Aurora Watershed Restoration Multimedia Training Program.--On September 5, 1996 the project was approached by Jack Williams, BLM, with an offer to include the Willow Creek Watershed Restoration and Education Project in Project Aurora, their multimedia training program. The BLM training program is incorporating video, audio, data, maps and still pictures into a computer format that allows a computer user to insert a cd and "walk through a watershed." Audio and video tapes were made, and 360-degree still pictures were shot during the September 19-20 student monitoring days and incorporated into the Project Aurora program. While not yet broadly available, the prototypes have been demonstrated widely (including a demonstration for the Camas County High School students) and eventually will be finalized and used as a standard watershed restoration training tool.
Articles.--Information regarding the Willow Creek BBN project has been published in several places, including:
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