Volunteers mulched and caged 100 newly planted native trees and shrubs on Nov. 8 to help complete a restoration project benefiting salmonids in Goat Creek, on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.
After a site tour by Methow Valley Ranger District Fisheries Biologist Gene Shull, seven volunteers went to work and collectively donated over 35 hours to repair two riparian areas.
First, they carried and spread wood chips around the bases of the new plantings to slow moisture evaporation and moderate soil temperature. The new plants include black cottonwood, Engelmann Spruce, subalpine fir, redosier dogwood, mountain alder, and wild rose.
After a lesson in cage-making by Rob Crandall of Methow Natives, who planted the trees and shrubs, the volunteers built wire enclosures and secured them around each plant to protect them from browsing cattle and wildlife.
The project, part of the National Forest Foundation’s (NFF) Treasured Landscapes program, completed a portion of the group’s effort to restore habitat in one mile of Goat Creek. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Methow Salmon Recovery Foundation also partnered with the NFF and the U.S. Forest Service on the project.
In addition to protecting the newly planted natives, the Goat Creek project included adding instream large woody material, restoring the riparian zone by planting riparian vegetation and eliminating remnants of old non-system logging skid trails (including one that crossed the creek, which occasionally received unauthorized vehicles use), and building a buck-and-rail fence to protect the restored habitat.
The goals of the restoration work are to slow flow velocity, provide refuge for juvenile fish, reduce bank erosion, afford cover, create pools and promote gravel accumulation. This will create additional spawning and rearing habitat and improve water quality in this cold water stream designated as “critical” to bull trout.
The work will benefit a genetically distinct local population of Goat Creek bull trout, as well as rainbow trout, Westslope cutthroat trout, and steelhead and Chinook salmon that use lower Goat Creek.
Project funding was provided by the National Forest Foundation, the Washington RCO Salmon Recovery Funding Board, the Gordon and Betty Moore Trust, Patagonia, and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service each provided an in-kind match.