will begin this summer on a $2.6 million project, known as the “1890s Side
Channel Restoration Project”, to restore aquatic habitat conditions in a
remnant side channel of the Methow River for the benefit of natural spawned
spring chinook and steelhead.
Yakama Nation Fisheries’ Upper Columbia Habitat Restoration Project (UCHRP)
will implement a salmon habitat restoration project along the Methow River just
north of the town of Twisp in central Washington’s Okanogan County. Spring
chinook salmon and steelhead that spawn and rear are listed under the
Endangered Species Act. The Upper Columbia spring chinook are categorized as
endangered; the Upper Columbia steelhead as threatened.
target side channel was the main river channel of the Methow River in the
1890s. Since then human development including the creation of State Highway 20
and a large flood control levee have diminished the ability of the river to
maintain aquatic habitat conditions within the 1890s side channel system.
the last century we’ve done an efficient job of obliterating complex side
channel habitats in our western river systems in the name of transportation
efficiency and flood control,” according Hans Smith, project habitat biologist
for the tribe. “The Methow River between Twisp and Winthrop illustrates a
classic case where floodplain development and extensive bank armoring for
erosion control have greatly altered the river’s hydraulics and pushed the
system away from creating and maintaining productive side channel habitats.
1890s side channel is an optimal restoration location where valuable juvenile
fish rearing habitat can be restored in a manner that is not in conflict with
the other social and economic elements of the landscape,” Smith said. “It’s a
great opportunity where salmon recovery money can produce win-win solutions in
1890s side channel project will occur almost exclusively on private property,
most of which include nearby single family residences. Participating property
owners are voluntarily allowing the Yakama Nation to restore the side channel
habitat in their back yards.
Yakama Nation’s restoration program in the Upper Columbia Region only works
with volunteering landowners in pursuing the region’s Salmon Recovery Plan
restoration agenda. One of the keys to this project’s success in gaining
landowner participation is that the project will not increase or alter the
conditions by which the river’s floods access and flow through the side
we are targeting the creation of low flow rearing habitat in the 1890s side
channel that will be fed by thermal regulating groundwater sources,” Smith
said. “We are not interested in bringing the river’s high flows back into this
side channel through this project. Peak times of stress for juvenile fish rearing
in their natal tributaries can occur when the river gets low and either really
warm in the summer or really cold in the winter.
side channel aquatic habitats that gain significant groundwater input provides
thermal refuges from the more adverse main channel low-flow conditions.”
the ideal groundwater-fed, side-channel habitat relies on two key components
for this project, the tribe says.
the side-channel bed elevation must be deepened to be in contact with the
natural groundwater surface elevation. This component is completed by digging
out the channel using large equipment like a 300 series excavator.
second component is the installation of a groundwater infiltration gallery
which uses horizontally buried slotted pipes and gravity (similar to a French
drain) to collect shallow groundwater flows upstream of the side channel site
and divert those flows into the side channel.
are in essence creating a spring fed creek in the 1890s side channel,” Smith
said. Other components important to the project’s success include creating
habitat complexity elements within the side channel system including
riffle/run/pool sequences and submerged large wood structures where juvenile
fish can hide out and feed as needed.
project also includes wetland enhancements, extensive native plant restoration,
and the disposal of excavated side channel material into an adjacent upland
area where a working farm’s uneven pasture surface will be improved.
total cost of the project, including engineering and design, environmental
permitting, and construction comes to nearly $2.6 million dollars. The project
will be funded by the Bonneville Power Administration through its agreement
with the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation embodied in the
2008 Columbia Basin Fish Accords. BPA markets power generated at Federal
Columbia River Power System dams in the Snake and Columbia river basins and
funds fish and wildlife work as part of federal treaty obligations to the
region’s tribes and as mitigation for dam impacts.
Yakama Nation UCHRP is a tribal fisheries program dedicated to enacting salmon
habitat restoration project along prime water courses in the Methow Valley
through the year 2018 using BPA funding. All of
the projects are part of a 2007 Salmon Recovery Plan coordinated between
the Upper Columbia Salmon Recovery Board, local jurisdictions, the state of
Washington and federal agencies charged with mitigating for FCRPS fish impacts,
as well as with other salmon recovery entities in the area.