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Redwood Forest Foundation

Fall 2009 Newsletter

Restoration Road: New Rights-of-way for Fish

by Heidi Gundling, Advisory Board Member
and Richard Gienger, Board Member

Standley Creek, a tributary to the South Fork Eel River in the Usal Redwood Forest, is an important spawning stream for Coho salmon and Steelhead trout. But like many areas in the Redwood region, this stream and the nearby forest ecosystem have been damaged by sediment associated with past logging practices.

After World War II, caterpillar tractor logging became the most common method of removing trees, providing access to areas of the forest that had previously been untouched. These track-driven bulldozers with winches crawled up to trees cut on steep slopes and dragged them to lower hillslopes and streamside roads.

In addition to these streamside roads, numerous crossings and landings were also placed in stream channels. Many crossings were constructed by putting logs within narrow, steep stream channels and then filling the channel with dirt from road construction. These structures were typically left behind, and many have partially collapsed, blocking fish access and/or burying streams with thousands of cubic yards of dirt and debris.

Before crossing removal - Clark Fork tributary of Standley Creek
Before crossing removal - Clark Fork tributary of Standley Creek
photo by Thomas Leroy, Pacific Watershed Associates

Removal of these structures is a massive and expensive undertaking, but is critically important to restoration of fisheries and watersheds, as well as improving water quality. One such crossing dismantled in the Clark Fork tributary of Standley Creek this summer required the removal of approximately 7,000 cubic yards of material. That is the equivalent of 700 average highway 10-wheel dump truck loads!

After crossing removal - Clark Fork tributary of Standley Creek
After crossing removal - Clark Fork tributary of Standley Creek
photo by Thomas Leroy, Pacific Watershed Associates

As forests have come to be valued for more than just lumber, RFFI and its property manager, The Campbell Group, have partnered with Pacific Watershed Associates, Trout Unlimited, the Department of Fish & Game and several local community groups to draft an ambitious, six phase restoration program to decommission specific, poorly located roads, crossings and landings throughout the Standley Creek watershed that are at high risk of future sediment delivery.

This work is the beginning of a much larger restoration and stewardship program that will address problems throughout the entire Usal Redwood Forest and integrate sustainable silviculture with important recreational, cultural, and wildlife elements. Any future logging on Usal's steep slopes, where these specific roads are being properly decommissioned, will be carefully completed using cable yarding or other systems that fully protect and continue to help recover watershed and fisheries resources.

See also:
Clark Fork Restoration Clark Fork Restoration   - video
Restoration of the Clark Fork tributary of Standley Creek, which flows into the South Fork Eel River, in the Usal Redwood Forest. Removal of an old "stringer bridge," August 2009.


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