Homestake Creek Restoration

The Issue

Homestake Creek RestorationThe goal of the Homestake Creek Restoration and Enhancement Project was to improve habitat conditions for fish as well as riparian-dependent terrestrial species (e.g., birds, beavers, insects), along a six mile segment of Homestake Creek below the Homestake Reservoir. This section of Homestake Creek was selected because it receives extremely heavy recreation pressure resulting in a diminished riparian condition.

Forty-three dispersed campsites were documented between FS Road 703 and Homestake Creek. The majority of these sites were within 100 feet of Homestake Creek and in violation of the White River National Forest Land and Resource Management Plan. In the past, non-compliant campsites and roads were closed using signs, however signs were removed or driven over by recreational vehicles. As a result, there has been significant loss of riparian vegetation caused by trampling, reduced bank stability and bank erosion, and a reduction in large woody debris from firewood cutting.

Location

Six miles along Homestake Creek, downstream from Homestake Reservoir.

The Project

The Homestake Creek Restoration and Habitat Enhancement project resulted in improved fish habitat on Forest Service lands along six miles of Homestake Creek. Beetle-killed and infested trees from the surrounding area were used to enhance trout habitat. Several benefits to fish resulted from the project, including: increased refuge for fish during high flows (runoff), increased pool development, retention of spawning gravels, encouragement of beaver colonization, and increased shade and cover for trout. Bank restoration and riparian re-vegetation reduced fine sediment, increased cover and shade, stabilized stream banks, and provided an additional food source in the form of greater abundance of terrestrial insects, which comprise a large percentage of forage for trout in late summer. Riparian-dependent wildlife also benefited from the enhanced habitat.

Visitors to the area now also have an enhanced experience thanks to the completion of the project. Aesthetics were improved by re-establishing vegetation (willows, grasses, wildflowers) into areas which previously had tire ruts and a lack of vegetation. In addition, trash, which was commonly found along the creek in the project area, was removed.

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