“Now that’s what I call woody debris.”
Any time it takes a 110 ton crane, a back hoe, 60,000 lbs of ballast, and a Firehawk helicopter to complete a project, you know it’s going to be an interesting day at the office. That’s just what Andrew Braugh, CalTrout’s Mt. Shasta/Klamath Director and head of the Hat Creek Restoration Project had in store for him this week. This was the day that woody debris would be installed in the creek as part of the multi-year, multi-phase project. It was a day that was much anticipated, long planned, finely orchestrated, and met with just a hint of trepidation. And it went off without a hitch.
This ‘woody debris’ was not just a few twigs and branches placed in the creek. These were three separate log structures placed in locations along a quarter mile stretch of the river. Each structure was comprised of four trees weighing 8-9,000 lbs each. That’s about 50 tons of woody debris to move and place in specific locations along Hat Creek. Cue the Firehawk helicopter that was necessary to move logs from their location in the nearby forest in order to protect the sacred ancestral land of the Illmawi Band of the Pit River Tribe. Cue the back hoe to move the logs into their predetermined, exact locations. Cue the exhaled, held breaths of the crew followed by elated cheers for a job perfectly executed.
Began in 2012, The Hat Creek Restoration Project’s goal is to restore this designated Wild Trout Area to the iconic fishery it once was with over 5,000 fish per mile. The tasks have included planting over six acres of riparian corridor with over 5,000 native plants, shrubs, and trees; protecting cultural resources; constructing recreational trails, signs, bridges and parking areas, maintaining and monitoring all restoration components, establishing a the Hat Creek Youth Initiative and Pit River Tribe workforce training and jobs program.
The project and this particular endeavor could not have been done without the collaboration of dozens of partners including: Waterways Engineering, the Pit River Tribe, PG&E, Lomakatsi, Department of Fish and Wildlife, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Spring Rivers Ecological Sciences, UC Davis, and The Pacific Forest and Watershed Stewardship Council.
All photos taken by Val Atkinson