Winter in the Ohop Valley

Even though construction season is winding down, it certainly isn’t going to get quiet around Ohop for a while! With the inevitable winter rains comes the opportunity to plant trees along the newly constructed creek channel, and create a forested floodplain.

Planting trips will be hosted by the Nisqually River Education Project, the Nisqually Land Trust and Nisqually Indian Tribe. All three groups are always looking for volunteers! With thousands of trees and shrubs to plant this year, our hands are full!

It’s easy to get involved. All you need are warm clothes and boots, a willingness to play in the mud, and lots of energy! We’ll provide the gloves, the plants, and the location. For specific dates and times, please check out the calendars on www.nrep.nisquallyriver.org and www.nisquallylandtrust.org, or call 360-438-8715! Make sure you register prior to volunteering.

All the trees and shrubs that we plant are native. Example species include:
-Cottonwood
-Alder
-Red-osier Dogwood
-Spruce
-Cedar
-Ninebark
-Twin berry
-and more!!

The winter season is a great chance to get involved with the Ohop Valley Restoration Project. We hope to see you out there!

Water reaches the new channel

An important milestone was reached this past weekend in Ohop Valley. Water is now flowing through the newly created creek bed!

The News Tribune recognized the incredible progress that’s been made. Check out this article!

http://www.thenewstribune.com/2014/09/01/3357231_major-phase-of-ohop-creek-restoration.html?sp=/99/289/&rh=1

Ohop fish-out!

With construction of the new Ohop creek bed nearly 75% complete, it’s time to start preparing for the big transition. Within the next week, water will be diverted from the old canal into the new, meandering fish-friendly creek. It’s not as simple as blocking water flow, though.

In order to prepare, project partners hosted a big fish-out the last week of August. Water was pumped from the old channel, carried through a pump and released back into the Ohop downstream of the new channel. This effectively drained the old Ohop creek, without adding water to the new bed yet.

But what about the fish?!

That’s where the fish-out came in! The South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group, Nisqually Land Trust, Nisqually Indian Tribe, Nisqually River Foundation, WA Fish and Wildlife and a lot of volunteers arrived on site early Monday and Tuesday mornings to capture aquatic animals and release them downstream.

Creatures captured included coho salmon, lamprey, sculpin, crayfish and freshwater mussels! Volunteers wielded electro-shocking tools, fish nets and buckets, collecting as many fish as possible.

A section of the new channel. Photo credit: Laurie Fait
A section of the new channel. Photo credit: Laurie Fait
This huge pile of dirt was scooped out to form the new channel. Eventually, it will be deposited into the old channel. Photo credit: Laurie Fait
This huge pile of dirt was scooped out to form the new channel. Eventually, it will be deposited into the old channel. Photo credit: Laurie Fait
Volunteers walked the length of the old Ohop creek as it drained capturing aquatic wildlife.
Volunteers walked the length of the old Ohop creek as it drained capturing aquatic wildlife. Photo credit: Laurie Fait
These volunteers found a large freshwater mussel bed, along with crayfish, lampreys, sculpins and snails. Photo credit: Laurie Fait
These volunteers found a large freshwater mussel bed, along with crayfish, lampreys, sculpins and snails. Photo credit: Laurie Fait
Once fish were captured, they were taken to the tents to be measured, before being released below the construction zone. Photo credit: Laurie Fait
Once fish were captured, they were taken to the tents to be measured, before being released below the construction zone. Photo credit: Laurie Fait

 

First two restoration sections complete

As we roll into August, things in the Ohop Valley have continued to move along steadily. Construction of the new stream bed is complete in the first two sections, and crews are now starting work on the third section! That means equipment is already by the Burwash Farm!

Construction progress in the Ohop Valley. Photo credit: Kim Bredensteiner
Construction progress in the Ohop Valley. Photo credit: Kim Bredensteiner
This bend in the creek bed will provide a variety of water flows. The variation makes swimming easier on fish. Photo: Kim Bredensteiner
This bend in the creek bed will provide a variety of water flows. The variation makes swimming easier on fish. Photo: Kim Bredensteiner
With the first two restoration sections done, the equipment is getting closer to Burwash Farm! Photo: Kim Bredensteiner
With the first two restoration sections done, the equipment is getting closer to Burwash Farm! Photo: Kim Bredensteiner
The Burwash Farm is has been a part of the Ohop Valley for the better part of a century. Thanks to the Burwash Family and their commitment to the valley, the farm will have a lasting legacy and huge impact on salmon enhancement. To learn more about the Burwash Family, visit our previous post about the Ohop Groundbreaking Celebration! Photo: Kim Bredensteiner
The Burwash Farm is has been a part of the Ohop Valley for the better part of a century. Thanks to the Burwash Family and their commitment to the valley, the farm will have a lasting legacy and huge impact on salmon enhancement. To learn more about the Burwash Family, visit our previous post about the Ohop Groundbreaking Celebration! Photo: Kim Bredensteiner
The new stream bed is beginning to take shape! What a difference it's making: the twisting creek will provide much better habitat than the ditch in place previously. Photo: Kim Bredensteiner
The new stream bed is beginning to take shape! What a difference it’s making: the twisting creek will provide much better habitat than the ditch in place previously. Photo: Kim Bredensteiner
There's more to restoration than just re-meandering the creek. The construction crews are also installing Large Woody Debris (LWD) piles, designed to mimic the logs that fall naturally in mountain streams. These LWD piles provide excellent habitat for fish. Photo: Kim Bredensteiner
There’s more to restoration than just re-meandering the creek. The construction crews are also installing Large Woody Debris (LWD) piles, designed to mimic the logs that fall naturally in mountain streams. These LWD piles provide excellent habitat for fish. Photo: Kim Bredensteiner

Progress Continues

It sure has been busy in Ohop Valley!

Since the groundbreaking celebration in mid-July, construction has continued almost non-stop. To date, the new channel is almost half way completed, and many large woody debris (LWD) piles have been installed! The LWD creates habitat, shelter and shade for salmon and other aquatic species.

Large woody debris is installed to provide refuge for fish.
Large woody debris is installed to provide refuge for fish.
The meanders in the new channel will mimic the historical conditions of Ohop Creek. It's about half way completed!
The meanders in the new channel will mimic the historical conditions of Ohop Creek. It’s about half way completed!
Water is already making itself at home in the new creek bed!
Water is already making itself at home in the new creek bed!
Thanks to the hard work from our construction crew, an incredible amount of progress has been made!
Thanks to the hard work from our construction crew, an incredible amount of progress has been made!
The new creek bed is much shallower than the ditch it has been flowing through. This provides much better habitat!
The new creek bed is much shallower than the ditch it has been flowing through. This provides much better habitat!

Ohop Groundbreaking Celebration

This past Saturday, the Nisqually Land Trust, with support from the Nisqually Indian Tribe and South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group, hosted a celebratory groundbreaking event at the site of the new Ohop Creek restoration. The day started with a visit to past restoration sites, where guests saw the meandering creek and thriving tree saplings. It painted the perfect picture of what the new site will look like!

Guests then traveled to Burwash Farm to enjoy views of the next phase, listen to speakers, eat freshly smoked salmon and celebrate as clumps of dirt were thrown from the what will be the new channel. Several generations of the Burwash family attended the event; without their support and enthusiasm for the project, this next phase wouldn’t be happening!

Mr. Burwash has lived and farmed in the Ohop Valley for ___ years. He and his family decided that preservation of the farm through conservation was a perfect way to carry on the family legacy. Photo credit: Emmett O'Connell
Steve Burwash has lived and farmed in the Ohop Valley for 4 generations. He and his family decided that preservation of the farm through conservation was a perfect way to carry on the family legacy. Photo credit: Emmett O’Connell
Jeanette Dorner, of the Puget Sound Partnership, recognized the importance of the Ohop Valley Restoration in the context of the Nisqually Watershed and the health of Puget Sound. Photo credit: Emmett O'Connell
Jeanette Dorner, of the Puget Sound Partnership, recognized the importance of the Ohop Valley Restoration in the context of the Nisqually Watershed and the overall health of Puget Sound. Photo credit: Emmett O’Connell
Steve Pruitt, long time Ohop Valley resident and member of the Nisqually River Council's Citizens Advisory Committee spoke about the role of connecting local people to their land. Photo credit: Emmett O'Connell
Steve Pruitt, long time Ohop Valley resident and member of the Nisqually River Council’s Citizens Advisory Committee spoke about the role of connecting local people to their land. Photo credit: Emmett O’Connell
The groundbreaking took place in the soon-to-be Ohop Creek channel. The new channel will be wider and shallower than the ditch it is currently in. This will form new habitats and will enhance salmon populations. Photo credit: Emmett O'Connell.
The groundbreaking took place in the soon-to-be Ohop Creek channel. The new channel will be wider and shallower than the ditch it is currently in. This will form new habitats and will enhance salmon populations. Photo credit: Emmett O’Connell.
Representing the youngest generation of the Burwash family, ___ throws dirt from the new creek bed. Photo credit: Emmett O'Connell
Matteus Rabel, the youngest generation of the Burwash family, throws dirt from the new creek bed. Photo credit: Emmett O’Connell
The Ohop Groundbreaking Celebration this Saturday marked the beginning of the newest phase of restoration. Photo credit: Emmett O'Connell
The Ohop Groundbreaking Celebration this Saturday marked the beginning of the newest phase of restoration. Photo credit: Emmett O’Connell
The restoration project has been a huge collaboration between many partners. It's impacts will not only be felt locally, but will also contribute to a healthier Puget Sound. Photo credit: Kim Bredensteiner
The restoration project has been a huge collaboration between many partners. It’s impacts will not only be felt locally, but will also contribute to a healthier Puget Sound. Photo credit: Kim Bredensteiner
As construction progresses, these logs will be placed in the stream bed to mimic large woody debris piles. The debris provides shelter for migrating salmon. Photo credit: Kim Bredensteiner
As construction progresses, these logs will be placed in the stream bed to mimic large woody debris piles. The debris provides shelter for migrating salmon. Photo credit: Kim Bredensteiner
The progress of construction was visible during the groundbreaking celebration. This picture shows a part of the new creek bed that the Ohop will soon flow through. Photo credit: Kim Bredensteiner
The progress of construction was visible during the groundbreaking celebration. This picture shows a part of the new creek bed that the Ohop will soon flow through. Photo credit: Kim Bredensteiner

Restoration Begins

Construction of the new stream channel began last week and things are really heating up at the site.

The newly restored stream channel will be 1.5 miles long and will provide prime rearing and migration area for salmon, trout and steelhead.

Check back for more progress in the coming weeks!

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Equipment moving soil from the new stream channel.

 

This section of new channel will be graded and smoothed in the coming days.
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The channel elevations and grades are being checked.

 

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A big scraper moving soil from the new stream channel.

 

Barn owl in Burwash barn
A barn owl keeps an eye on the progress. Photo credit: Charly Kearns

 

A panorama shot of the beautiful Ohop Valley. Photo credit: Charly Kearns
A panorama shot of the beautiful Ohop Valley. Photo credit: Charly Kearns

 

The initial steps: A picture update

The next phase of the Ohop Creek Restoration Project is underway, and the first pictures are rolling in. Thanks to Kim Bredensteiner, of the Nisqually Land Trust, for taking these “before pictures.” The valley has been used for farming purposes for over a century; soon the creek will be closer to resembling its historical conditions – a bending, forested and salmon-filled stream.

Overlooking the Ohop Valley and part of Burwash Farm. Over a century ago, the trees in Ohop Valley were cleared to make way for farming, and the creek straightened. Now, the valley is being restored to resemble its historical conditions. The first step: re-meandering Ohop Creek.
Overlooking the Ohop Valley and part of Burwash Farm. Over a century ago, the trees in Ohop Valley were cleared to make way for farming, and the creek straightened. Now, the valley is being restored to resemble its historical conditions. The first step: re-meandering Ohop Creek.

 

Currently, Ohop Creek is straight and does not have nearby trees to provide shade or animal habitat. The goal of the restoration project is to add curves to the creek and eventually replant the flood plain.
Currently, Ohop Creek is straight and does not have nearby trees to provide shade or animal habitat. The goal of the restoration project is to add curves to the creek and eventually replant the flood plain.

 

The posts marked with pink flagging outline the soon-to-be new course of Ohop Creek. By re-meandering the Ohop, the creek will provide much better salmon habitat. The restored stream will feature a variety of in-stream habitats, including pools and eddies which will provide rest stops for migrating and rearing fish.
The posts marked with pink flagging outline the soon-to-be new course of Ohop Creek. By re-meandering the Ohop, the creek will provide much better salmon habitat. The restored stream will feature a variety of in-stream habitats, including pools and eddies which will provide rest stops for migrating and rearing fish.

 

Construction equipment began to arrive onsite for the next phase of the restoration on June 30th. Here, machinery is being staged prior to the start of digging the new creek bed. Construction will take place throughout the summer of 2014.
Construction equipment began to arrive onsite for the next phase of the restoration on June 30th. Here, machinery is being staged prior to the start of digging the new creek bed. Construction will take place throughout the summer of 2014.
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