There’s 2 weeks left in our Stillwater Creek Early Bird Restoration.  Find out more here.   

What did last year look like.  Check out the photo gallery below, or view the photos in a bigger format here.

This over steepened bank was situated adjacent to a very narrow segment of the students’ access road, posing a safety hazard for student drivers. Students of the heavy equipment operators program and the watershed practicum class were the workforce that stabilized this bank during last year’s Biotechnical Streambank Stabilization Workshop.

The challenging “soil wrap” ….the face must be smooth and free of cobble to obtain good soil-to-fabric contact

The Guys turn to work!! …And the girls turn to work!! Willows were an integral component in this stabilization project adding biological reinforcement that will only improve as root structure develops. Its a great operator who can place soil so carefully AND help manage an unpaid labor force! After the base layers of soil wraps and willows were installed the team switched to the “Soil Flap” -much less challenging than the “soil wrap” to install but still a very effective erosion control technique.

The corners however must still be blended and secured into the existing slope… The Students placed bets on If and How Much width we would gain on the access road…At this point it was starting to look really promising!! We gained 3 ft of road width!!! 8 months after project completion! The willows and native grasses- Elymus glaucus and Nasella Pulchra are well established Th

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?  


Join the Sacramento Watersheds Action Group and Shasta College for this great educational event:

3.5-days of classroom and in-field instruction at the Shasta College Campus

2 experienced instructors will provide valuable instruction backed by years of practical experience:

  • Learn to “Read a Stream” from David Derrick, Vicksburg MS.  David travels 230+ days a year visiting streams, teaching, designing, and implementing projects !!
  • Learn the MOST Environmentally-Sensitive Streambank Stabilization* and Biotechnical Techniques from John McCullah.
  • How are redirective techniques (rock vanes and bendway weirs) different from resistive techniques? Learn from experience.
  • What is self-launching / self-filtering rock?  What are alternatives to filter fabric for geotechnical root stabilization of the banks?
  • Tour 2 remarkable  Salmonid stream restoration projects – Sulphur Creek and Clear  Creek with the experts.  Stillwater Creek at Shasta College will provide a actual learning laboratory

About Stillwater Creek:

This salmon/steelhead stream is incised, channelized, and the 20′-high bank are collapsing.  Help us develop a plan for this reach of Stillwater Creek!  Help us stabilize the stream bank using state of the art bioengineering techniques!!

This workshop IS the actual process for saving a stream. There is no better way to learn. 


All of this and more for only $250 !!!

*  Participants will receive the NCHRP Report-544 Environmentally-Sensitive Channel and Bank Protection Measures – the entire manual of 50+ techniques, was written in html and available on CD – results of 3-year research for Transportation Research Board and Academy of Science, includes CAD details, specifications, construction details, research papers on .pdf, case studies, and ‘Greenbank’ selection software.

**  The design/planning efforts will help Shasta College and SWAG develop a grant request for restoration.  Next years class will implement maybe!!

***  The newly-formed Shasta College Foundation is helping off-set costs for this “not-to-be-missed” educational event.  Lunches will be provided along with transportation to field trip sites.

Sign up soon  SPACE IS LIMITED

 These “old innovative” techniques will NOT be covered!!


 Contact Salix Applied Earthcare to sign up.  

Call them at  (530) 247-1600.

Or email at:   info (at)



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