The Current Magazine Summer 2018 - Page 12


Hat Creek restoration plan for all

A study done in the 1990s suggested that at the rate the sediment slug was moving, it would pass through the two-mile flat-water section and go under the Highway 299 bridge in about 2020, then into the faster water of lower Hat Creek and on to the fish barrier by 2025. In the past 29 years, the sediment has moved from the Powerhouse Riffle to just above the highway bridge.

It was reassuring to know that the devastation the sediment brought to the flat water would eventually end, but there was impatience to do something to speed the process and repair the damage. In 2010, the Hat Creek Resource Advisory Committee began to pursue active restoration options. With data about the creek from in-stream studies and with a recreation master plan for anglers, hikers, bikers, birders, and other outdoor enthusiasts, the committee created a comprehensive restoration plan.

The Carbon reach, midway between the Powerhouse and the 299 bridge, was known for its deep channel, slow currents, and lush, rooted aquatic vegetation. The vegetation supported the abundant trout population by providing cover, remarkable insect variety, and outstanding habitat. Upward of three thousand trout had lived there during Hat Creek’s heyday. By 2010, not only did Carbon Flats look like a beach — flat gray sand, uniform and weedless — but the stream banks had retreated under prolonged pressure from cattle, muskrats, and anglers. Carbon seemed the natural place to begin the restoration.

Drew and his team got to work raising the money. In 2012, CalTrout received the first grant of $700,000 from the California Natural Resources Agency. Subsequent grants followed, and by 2014, the total available was over $1 million. In 2015, another $1.4 million was given to CalTrout and the Pit River Tribe by the Stewardship Council to support the habitat restoration work of the tribal youth crews planting native trees and shrubs along the creek, realigning and enlarging the trail, building rail fences, and controlling weeds..

> Click on map to learn more about the restoration project.