An Update From The Road…

I’m currently down in San Bernardino working with Caltrans District 8.  Hwy 330, going up through San Bernardino National Forest had a rough winter – and a record rainfall season.  The land is really steep, heading up to Big Bear, and landslide riddled. But a couple of plugged culverts lead to a huge landslide that buried Schenk Creek under thousands of tons of Decomposed Granite and rocks. CTs and SKANSKA Construction have been working on the highway for months , installing new drainage facilities, and repairing the landslide.  The Geotechnical Engineers have designed a huge wire mesh reinforcement system.   

Highway 330 slide w/ geotechnically-reinforced wire

The District is also working very closely with the USFS and USACOE, and other Resource Agencies because the downstream reaches of Schenk Creek provide habitat for the endangered yellow-legged frog, very critical habitat indeed.  Which is how I got involved.  David Derrick flew out to help the Corp of Engineers and USFS come up with a restoration plan for Schenk Creek, and then David, in turn, recommended me to furthur develop and oversee implementation of the plan.  

The creek being cleaned out belowOver the last few weeks, CT and SKANSKA have removed an estimated 16,000 CY of landslide material out of the creek.  The temporary access road is soooo steep, a huge 980 Cat Loader needed to be pushed out with a bull dozer!!  I’ve already lost 4 pounds of winter fat humping up the trail !!

 Today we started at the lower end and built a Longitudinal Stone Toe (LST) along the left bank.  We excavated deep so some willow branches (soaked 4 days in heavy duty garbage cans) can get their feet damp, even as the stream dries up this summer.  The branches (live siltation) were covered with damp soil and then furthur “washed in”.

I’ll be pleased if 30% grow as it is not optimal season – but the branches will help roughness regardless.  Our next step is to build a rather large engineered rock riffle – which will add considerable roughness to the system (while mimicking natural riffles observed throughout the system.


Behind the riffles and the LST we will furthur develop flood bench terraces.  The plan is that the benches, the additional roughness added in riffles, and the use of small meanders will all allow the stream to store and meter-out sediment as a naturally-functioning stream.


Well, we have at least three more big pool/riffles to build and quite a bit more DG to remove from the channel, and several more functioning flood terraces to build – so more later.  

Whew, I’m tired already.


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