Stillwater Creek Workshop: SUCCESS!

The Stillwater Creek Stream Workshop was a huge success.

Over 36 professionals attended the 3.5 day workshop hosted by Shasta College and organized by the Shasta College Foundation and Sacramento Watersheds Action Group (SWAG).  We had some Military people from Kansas, almost 10 professionals fro Caltrans, CA Fish and Game was represented (2 wardens attended), a City of Roseville planner, and many more.

David Derrick, from Bovina, Mississippi (yup, Bovina, right near Vicksburg, home of the USCOE Waterways Experiment Station), was in super great form.  For those of you who haven’t caught David teach about streams, well … sad.  Scott Thompson, SC Foundation stopped by and commented about david, “that guys is a great instructor!”.   But hey, you can catch him next year as we plan to make this a yearly affair.  The entire workshop was about practical application and experience.  Both David and myself have  designed and built tons of projects, which we have dutifully documented and monitored through the years.

The College provided bus transportation (and oh, the lunches provided by the College were deeLISH) so we could visit Sulphur Creek, a Redding Urban Salmonid stream that SWAG started restoring in 1996.  The attendees got to see restoration and biotechnical techniques that are over 10 years old (Newbury Rock Riffles, Viffles, Rock Vanes, Live Siltation w/ LPSTP).

If these sound foreign to you well, I taught some modules on biotechnical EC/ Bioengineering and all the attendees got free copies of NCHRP Report 544 / ESenSS – Environmentally-Sensitive Streambank Stabilization (this CD has all the practices (54) that are environmentally-sensitive alternatives or enhancements to traditional rip rap, including digital drawing files, BMPs, design criteria, case studies, photos etc.)

Besides the classroom instruction by David and myself, the real high point(s) were the field trips out to Stillwater Creek that bounds the College campus to the East.  We all got to “Read The Stream” with David’s help – through the eyes of an experienced stream and river guy.  There was a lot to see too, or more correctly, a lot NOT seen.  Such as proper stream function.  There was almost no large wood in the stream, even though wood was probably an important component to proper stream function.   David help us see that there were a lot of other components like overhanging branches and “dragging limbs”, no substrate complexity like pools and riffles.  

We learned a lot about “Roughness”, not the Manning’s n – type, but instead David explained how the vegetation, rocks, pools/riffles etc provide the necessary roughness during high flows to dissipate stream energy while relatively smooth banks (no veg, riprap, etc.) will erode or accelerate the stream energy.  More on this in upcoming blogs!

The stream was / is incised at a Stage 3-4 on the Channel Evolution Model.  David and I spent significant time explaining geomorphic features and stream energy, and the resulting dis-equilibrium.   This reach of creek was a classic example showcasing the state-of-the-art streambank stabilization practices circa 1960-1970s, e.g., Gabion baskets, tires, or rock places along a straightened reach of stream that is separated from it’s floodplain and then historically gravel mined for good measure!  Yes, this reach of Stillwater Creek will provide a “learning laboratory” for many years to come.  It is also has very valuable potential as critical Salmonid habitat if restoration projects are implemented.

And this is exactly what Shasta College, the Shasta College Foundation, and SWAG want.  To restore the habitat and stream function while providing a hands-on learning laboratory.  We want to offer more workshops, at least on an annual basis.  What would you say if Shasta College offered curriculum in Stream Restoration?  

Give us your feedback please.

And stay tuned for more information.  We are going to offer additional Stillwater Creek blog topics over the next few weeks.

  • How was the Vegetated Mechanically Stabilized Earth (VMSE Soil Wrap) built during the workshop?
  • What did the workshop attendees observe and why were there differences observed between the East Fork and the West Fork? 
  • What are the hydrologic and geomorphic conditions within and above our reach and what were the historical land uses ?
  • What were those old practices – gabions, tire, and rock resistive techniques – and how have they worked?  For all intents and purposes, the channel is straightened, lined and probably acts similar to the LA River (without the concrete protection).  
  • What are the recommendations we have at this stage of analysis – what projects have been identified and where shall we start heading?  


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