Back in 2007, I was blessed with having the world’s greatest job…I was hired as a consultant to a spawning bed restoration project on the Stanislaus River in California.
My responsibilities: Direct two front loaders on where to dump gravel and boulders. Not only was the pay outstanding, but taking a thrashed river and making it pristine for Chinook and trout was awfully good for the soul! And, let’s be honest here, driving those big tractors around was pretty fun too!
We started the project carefully sifting and washing 200 tons of perfect spawning cobble and then added a couple hundred boulders in 1- to 7-ton range…
Then we went to work…
Here’s a look at what a lot of the river looked like before we started…
And, from a slightly different angle, when we were done…
Check out how dismal this side channel looked before…
Here’s how she looked after the work…
Again, much of this stretch of river was sluggish and silted in before the work began…not exactly pristine habitat…
What a world of difference, eh?
When it was all said & done, we added 33 new riffles to a short 2-mile stretch of river…
On the last day, Dennis Hood of KDH Environmental and I toured the site & admired our handiwork…
Apparently, the salmon like their new home…
Is the rock cobble still in place or did it get washed away? I’m not trying to sound like a jerk, just curious how it’s holding up.
Ya know, I haven’t been back. I’m sure a good chunk got washed out in the bog winters a few years back. But that’s the deal…below these high canyon dams, there is no new gravel recruitment, so for there to be spawning gravel in those lower river sections, it has to be manually replenished every so often.
JD I continue to be blown away by this effort. Although Im from washington, how can I get involved in projects like this? Im a graphic designer and have worked with non-profits. If you need help, shoot me an email, I would love to help in any way possible. It’s the least I can do from here. There has to be a way to raise funds for this to get more people aware and excited about restoring these rivers.
Hey Don, thanks so much for the support and offer to help! I’m trying to get more into this type of thing and will keep ya posted if I can secure more projects. Thanks again!
Josh "100lbs club" Jordan says
Im an eagle scout.Ive done many trail reconstructions and fire clearings and river reconstructions. I have been fishing and hunding since I was knee high to a crickets butt. So I just want to say thanks as it takes many poeople like us to keep our mother earth happy and flourishing. I also volunteer at many non-profits so if you need a 6’4” 240 hand to help, throw me a line ANYTIME… I would be honored to assist…
Josh, thanks a lot man! I’ll keep ya posted on future projects. Good job with the volunteer work, too! Wish there were more guys like you, out there doing what you can to make a difference!
Where is this stretch of river?
Near Knight’s Ferry.
Who’s the lassy operating the heavy equipment?!?
Ah, I figured that would not slip past the keen eyes of some of you! Cute chicks and big tractors…what’s not to like, right?
Jeremiah W. says
Looks kinda like the hotty from Ice Road Truckers!
Wow, truly some spectacular results. Hard to believe what can be accomplished when people who care go into action to repair such important natural resources. Keep up the great work. And I’ll see you monday on the Americano.
How often do you think new gravel will have to be trucked in at restoration sites like this? I’m sure the big 1-7 ton boulders aren’t going anywhere and they will probably keep the gravel from blowing out of there as fast. This is what we need to do with all the 5% of possible spawning habitat that is left below the dams. It’s about all we can do.
You gott’a feel great!
I know i feel like i’m seeing something for the first time, the San Joaqine River, not just dry sand but WATER from Fresno (Frient Dam)to the Delta. Been hunting and fishing around Los Banos for 60 years, never saw any water other than runoff, now beautiful fresh water. And in 5 or 6 years SALMON as it was in the thirtys, i have heard the stories from alot of natives who have past on, about the runs they used to have. And in my lift time, will see the same thing. You and your friends have to keep up this kind of work, so our grandchildren can witness whats its all about.