It’s a funny thing…it took 4 years of permits, meetings and politics to get the Stanislaus River gravel restoration project off the ground and only 4 weeks to complete the actual work. We’re just about done renovating the 2-mile stretch of river we’ve been working on this month and it looks fantastic. With a gazillion tons of gravel and over 100 boulders in the 2- to 7-ton size range, this year’s fall run of Chinook salmon will have some stellar new habitat to call home.
Here’s a before photo of one of the spots we’ve rehabed:
And then the after picture…lots of good spawning gravel, some nice holding water and perfect flow!
Read on to see some other cool photos…
Not only has this portion of the river starved for new spawning gravel for decades, but it’s also been devoid of big rocks and boulders since mining operations cleaned everything out years ago. We’ve added a good 100 boulders to our stretch of river and let me tell you, they’re not going anywhere…some of these babies are huge! Here’s Dennis Hood of KDH Environmental, sitting atop one of our fat boy, big daddy rocks.
In this shot, I’m spotting Dennis as he places one of the “smaller” rocks — this one’s probably only 3 tons.
The rocks we have added weren’t all Fiat-sized, however. In a couple side channels, we first laid down spawning gravel and then made weirs out of large “basketball” cobble.
I wanted to build the weirs to add a riffle-pool-riffle-pool type of sequence to the side channel. The results were sweet — though my back was a bit sore at the end of the day…
We’re planning to wrap things up this week and then it’s time to sit back and hope some kings find their way home this fall.
I’ll post some more photos when we’re finished and then watch for a major photo essay in an upcoming issue of Salmon Trout Steelheader Magazine.