British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium

Restoring a salmon stream : a balance of habitat diversity, flood control and community needs Scouras, Jim G.; Jackson, J. L.; Hennebury, Krista 1996

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Proceedings of the 20th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium  in Kamloops, BC, 1996. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation RESTORING A SALMON STREAM: A BALANCE OF HABITAT DIVERSITY, FLOOD CONTROL AND COMMUNITY NEEDS J.G. Scouras, R.P.Bio. J.L. Jackson, M.Sc. K. Hennebury, P. Geo. B.C. Hydro 6911 Southpoint Drive BurnabyB.C. V3N 4X8 ABSTRACT To mitigate environmental impacts associated with improvements to an electrical facility, B.C. Hydro partnered with the Ministry of Environment Land and Parks (MoELP) and the City of Surrey to restore fish habitat in McLellan Creek. The creek, a tributary of the Nicomekl River, was modified in the 1960's, resulting in removal of upstream access and the deposition of fine silt over much of the remaining habitat. The challenge met by the restoration design was to provide upstream access and quality habitat for salmonids at low flows, while maintaining the flood control function of the channel at high flows. This was achieved through removal of four concrete weirs and enhancing the stream with a variety of structures, substrates and native vegetation. The restored channel contains over 300 meters of spawning habitat for coho salmon (Oncorynchus kisutch) and chum salmon (O. keta) and 300 meters of salmonid rearing habitat. The project provided a unique opportunity to involve the local community. The area surrounding McLellan Creek contains a protected nature lagoon and regional park and is used extensively for walking, cycling and observing nature. Including suggestions from neighborhood residents, special interest groups and municipal committees into the restoration plan was a positive experience that ultimately added value to the project. Initial results include documented spawning by chum and coho salmon and the successful passage of a 1 in 50 year flood event. Plans for next year include continued monitoring of fish activity and an engineering assessment of the channel. INTRODUCTION McLellan Creek is located in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, within the City of Surrey. The creek flows north-south parallel to the Surrey /City of Langley border (Figure 1). hi the late 1960's B.C. Hydro's holding company, Columbia Estates, sold a parcel of land adjacent to the creek and at the same time, diverted a portion of the creek into an engineered flood control channel. At that time, the creek diversion was an acceptable form of flood control, increasing the value of the adjacent commercial/industrial land on the north side of the Nicomekl flood plain. About 15 years later, B.C. Hydro constructed a substation immediately west of the 43 Proceedings of the 20th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium  in Kamloops, BC, 1996. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation  Figure 1.     McLellan Creek and Area. 44 Proceedings of the 20th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium  in Kamloops, BC, 1996. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation channel to provide electricity to the cities of Surrey and Langley. In the spring of 1995, expansion work began at the substation to increase electrical service to the rapidly growing communities. The Nicomekl River and its associated floodplain provide rich wildlife and fisheries habitat, and are valuable recreation areas. For that reason, the City of Surrey is actively working with upstream industry to identify and reduce point pollution sources in the Nicomekl watershed. Historically, McLellan Creek was likely a valuable spawning and rearing habitat for several salmonid and non-salmonid fish species. Unfortunately, the engineered diversion channel and associated high concrete weirs prevented the upstream migration offish and caused the deposition of silty substrate, preventing spawning activity. In addition the channel banks became choked with exotic grasses, adding little to the diversity and value of the riparian habitat, hi response to more proposed industrial development along McLellan Creek in the early 1990's the MoELP contracted Envirowest Consultants Ltd. (ECL) to complete an environmental assessment of the watershed and document the potential for habitat restoration (Whyte 1995). The diverted section of creek was assessed as having high potential value for restoration. Further work was then done in 1993 by ECL and the British Columbia Institute of technology (BCIT) on technical design and a plan to rehabilitate the site (Boyland and Hagemeyer 1994). However, none of the agencies involved had sufficient funds to complete the work. When B.C.Hydro approached the Ministry of Environment land and Parks (MoELP) in 1995 to discuss mitigation for environmental impacts associated with substation expansion work, a partnership agreement was struck between the agency, B.C. Hydro and the City of Surrey. The three bodies agreed to work together to rehabilitate the channeled portion of McLellan Creek. The three components of this work included: measures to open up the channel for upstream fish migration, installation of appropriate substrates for spawning and rearing habitat and revegetation of the banks with native plant species. PARTNERSHIPS MoELP developed a strategy in the Fraser Valley to ensure a "no net loss" policy, even in areas where impact is unavoidable, in the form of off site compensatory credits from developers. A small portion of some credit funds dedicated for McLellan Creek were spent on developing the restoration plan. These plans were in turn reviewed by the City of Surrey to ensure the flood control capability for the watershed. Due to this previous work, when B.C. Hydro contacted MoELP in 1995 to discuss environmental protection and mitigation associated with the expansion of McLellan Substation, the diverted section of creek was quickly recommended as a possible mitigation site, hi addition to running adjacent to the electrical facility on B.C.Hydro property, this 45 Proceedings of the 20th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium  in Kamloops, BC, 1996. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation recommendation fit well with the habitat compensation objectives of MoELP and DFO. As a result, B.C. Hydro committed funds, equipment and labour to restore over half (400 m) of the channelized portion of McLellan Creek. The cost of restoring the 400 m section would be approximately $50,000, half the estimated cost for restoring the whole channel. Realizing the cost savings of having environmental staff and construction equipment mobilized at the creek, MoELP and the City of Surrey decided to partner with B.C. Hydro and complete the entire 600 m of creek restoration. Following a meeting between ECL and B.C. Hydro biologists the 1993 construction plans were modified to increase instream habitat complexity and pool habitat. Furthermore, B.C. Hydro agreed to assume an overall coordination role, provide construction monitoring and site work staff and perform pre- and post- rehabilitation assessments. The City of Surrey and MoELP were responsible for completing the modified construction drawings, providing site supervision and quality control during construction and decided to contract their work to ECL. TECHNICAL COMPONENTS The general approach taken to achieve the technical goals of this restoration project were: (1) the removal of all upstream migration barriers, (2) the creation of a low flow channel below the pre-project stream invert and (3) accomplish the work without diminishing the hydraulic capacity of the main channel. Survey work conducted in 1993 determined McLellan Creek was 735.11m long and had a gradient of 0.75%; restoration was limited to the uppermost 600 m section of the stream which had a gradient of 0.65% (Boyland and Hagemeyer 1994). Upstream migration of spawning fish Upstream migration potential was facilitated by removing all (4) high concrete weirs and replacing them with low height, energy dissipating, log drop structures (Fig 2). The new structures were placed at precise locations along the channel to maintain the desired gradient and hydraulic conditions required to meet habitat needs. To ensure fish passage the vertical drop from the top of each structure to the downstream pool was set at <20 cm. Moreover, all log structures were V-notched to ensure maximum channelization of water at low flows. Next, a low flow channel was designed for excavation within the existing main channel but below the pre-project stream invert. This served to concentrate the low flows without lowering the hydraulic capacity of the remaining channel. The first step in design of the low flow channel was to determine the range of flows expected during 46 Proceedings of the 20th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium  in Kamloops, BC, 1996. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation   47 Proceedings of the 20th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium  in Kamloops, BC, 1996. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation a year. A relative method of scaling was applied to the Historical Streamflow Summary for the Nicomekl River (located 200 m upstream of its confluence with McLellan Creek). By applying the ratio of the respective drainage basins to calculate predicted flows for McLellan Creek, the predicted mean monthly flow for McLellan Creek was 0.18 m3/s, a 1 in 5 year flow was 9.68 m3/s and a 1 in 100 year flow was 16.38 m3/s (Boyland and Hagemeyer 1994). The low flow chainnel, along the main channel invert, had a gradient of 0.02% and was given an arbitrary width of 1 m. In addition its armored banks were designed at a slope of 1.5:1, for the mean discharge of 0.18 m3/s and maximum capacity of 1.16 m3/s. The rest of the channel was then designed with a slope of 2:1, a gradient which remained 0.65% and maintained a capacity of 15.4 m3/s. Restoration of spawning and rearing habitat To ensure its optimal use, the low flow channel was designed to provide ideal coho salmon spawning conditions: water depth > 18 cm (preferably 30 cm), water velocity between 30-91 cm/s and substrate size between 1.3 - 10.2 cm (Bjorn and Reiser, 1991). Habitat use studies have demonstrated that these hydraulic conditions are suitable for spawning chum salmon as well as the other salmonid spawners which are anticipated (Bjorn and Reiser, 1991). In addition to the restored spawning areas, roughly half of the channel was designed to provide diverse habitat conditions, suitable for the other life history stages of colio salmon and other salmonids. Studies on juvenile coho salmon have demonstrated preferred use of habitat with slower water velocities and reduced light intensities regardless of the structures which cause them (Shirvell 1990). The majority of the habitat demonstrating these characteristics was created in the riprap lined pools located downstream of each drop structure. However, at several other locations along the channel the low flow channel width was extended to 1.5m and combined with instream root wad placement or the creation of undercut banks. Lastly, 2 larger and deeper rest pools were excavated near the the top and near the bottom of the restored channel. Hydraulic criteria were calculated by applying a roughness coefficient of 0.04 (representative of riprap and gravel substrate) to the survey data from the site. This process; generated all required point construction elevations and demonstrated the gradient required in the 600 m low flow channel to meet habitat needs was 0.2% (Figure 3). Riparian Vegetation Discussions between the partners during planning phases of the project revealed the keen and common interest to re-establish native riparian vegetation along the restored stream. Removal of exotic grasses which dominated 48 Proceedings of the 20th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium  in Kamloops, BC, 1996. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation PLANTING ALONG WEIR CREEK: OCTOBER 14 CELEBRATION DAY  ADDITIONAL PLANTING ALONG WEIR CREEK (AFTER OCTOBER 14TH)  Figure 4: Native vegetaton planted in McLellan Creeks' riparian zone. 49 Proceedings of the 20th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium  in Kamloops, BC, 1996. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation to streamside area and replacement with a native community would contribute to diversity and better maintain the productive capacity of the stream. To that end approximately 2545 m2 of streamside area was planted with approximately 234 trees and 1226 shrub species. A wide variety of native evergreen and deciduous trees were combined with over 8 different shrubs and berry plants to create a diverse, dense and complex riparian community (Figure 4). While extensive planting back from the stream did occur, in the area cleared for road construction, the most dense planting occurred along both stream banks throughout the restored site. Construction Site access included an existing unpaved track along the west side of the lower 300 m of the channel and a constructed road of clean road crush along the east side of the upper 300 m section. This was done to ensure all machine work was completed from the road and one bank in each section was left relatively undisturbed. Following completion of the project the upper road was decommissioned by removing all crush rock and establishing a walk path. Construction work began at the most upstream point of the 600 m stream section and progressed downstream. Each work day discrete sections of the channel were dewatered by water pumps; subsequent salvages were performed. Furthermore, as a precautionary measure, silt fences were installed in the stream downstream of the work sites. All concrete weirs were removed using a small excavator with a hydraulic breaking arm attachment. A larger hoe excavator was used to remove silt, create the correct channel invert, excavate and then place the log- drop structures and to place all riprap and gravel. In addition, filter fabric was placed by hand under all riprap and gravel to minimize subsurface erosion. On site decisions included adding habitat complexity where possible and construction of a large deep rest pool near the most downstream section of the stream. Work was completed in 5 weeks during the summer fisheries work window, at a total cost of $116,000. Community Involvement The restoration project also provided a unique opportunity to involve the local community, which proved to be a positive experience. The area around McLellan Creek is used extensively for walking, cycling and observing nature. B.C. Hydro rights-of-way provide access to the area and connect a series of volunteer-maintained trails 50 Proceedings of the 20th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium  in Kamloops, BC, 1996. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation to the Nikomekl River, a protected nature lagoon, and a regional park. This trail system was extended through decommissioning of the construction access roads into additional walking paths. Community involvement was focused through Langley Environmental Partners (LEPS), a municipal group designed as a clearing center for technical and financial assistance for volunteer groups wishing to conduct environmental work in Langley. Besides coordinating the technical aspects of revegetation, LEPS coordinated student volunteers in the Environmental Restoration Technology program at Kwantlan College and high school student "Streamkeepers" from School District #35. Additional volunteer support was provided by The Langley Field Naturalists and the Nikomekl Enhancement Society. The involvement of these groups substantially reduced costs, thereby facilitating a more ambitious native revegetation program. Two benefits of involving local school groups and residents were educating and encouraging community ownership of the area by the community. The Nikomekl Elementary school and several Surrey/Langley Boy Scout troupes were actively involved in wildlife enhancements for the area including building and installing bird boxes, bat boxes and waterfowl loafing platforms. To reinforce ownership and celebrate successful completion of the restoration work, B.C. Hydro sponsored Nikomekl Community Environment Day. A walking circuit of activities focused on the restoration and revegetation of McLellan Creek and the wildlife enhancements completed by volunteers. The tour ended with participants being able to plant their own tree along the creek. This project raised awareness, complimented other community environmental initiatives, benefited from volunteer resources and significantly increased community ownership of the restored channel and surrounding area. CONCLUSION Since its completion, the McLellan Creek project continues to evolve as a successful example of site restoration. High rain fall during the winter of 1995 resulted in 1/50 year flood events which successfully passed through the channel with minimal damage to the restoration works. A spawner survey completed in the late fall of 1995, confirmed over a dozen chum salmon ( between 60 to 70 cm in length) and 6 coho salmon (between 30 and 40 cm in length) were using the restored habitat. These fish, generally regarded as strays, represent the first attempt by salmon to recolonize the upstream portion of McLellan Creek in the past 35 years. In addition the community groups and local residents continue to monitor the site and are very pleased with the results of their efforts to date. 51 Proceedings of the 20th Annual British Columbia Mine Reclamation Symposium  in Kamloops, BC, 1996. The Technical and Research Committee on Reclamation B.C. Hydro has embarked on a 5 year monitoring program of the channel. The initial phase of monitoring includes an engineering assessment of the channel . This will involve calculation of stage discharge curves, habitat parameters and weighted useable area. In addition, annual fish sampling and escapement counts will be conducted to monitor target species use of the stream. Lastly, local community groups continue to work with the City of Surrey and the MoELP to identify point pollution sources and improve the water quality of McLellan Creek. REFERENCES Bjorn T.C. and Reiser D.W. 1991. Habitat Requirements of Salmonids in Streams. Influences of Forest and Rangeland Management on Salmonid Fishes and their Habitat. William R. Mehan Editor. American Fisheries Society Special Publication 19. Bethesda, Maryland, pp. 83-138. Boyland A. and Hagemeyer E. 1994. Weirs Creek Upgrade for Habitat Enhancement. British Columbia Institute of Technology Technical Report prepared for Envirowest Consultants Ltd. March 1994. 14pp + appendices. Shirvell C.S.. 1990. Role of Instream Rootwads as Juvenile Coho Salmon (Oncorynchus kisutch) and Steelhead Trout (O. myldss) Cover Habitat Under Varying Streamflows. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, Vol. 47. pp 852-861. Whyte. I. 1995. McLellan Creek Rehabilitation Project Surrey B.C.. Submission to APEGBC Environmental Committee. 5pp + appendices. 52


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