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February 29, 2012     Indian Valley Record
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February 29, 2012
 

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6A Wednesday, Feb. 29, 2012 Indian Valley Record Yellow Creek to get restoration treatment Alicia Knadler Indian Valley Editor aknadler@plumasnews.com Yellow Creek and the Hum- bug Valley are to be the newest recipients of the pond-and-plug restoration treatment, possibly as soon as this fall. Plumas County Planning Di- rector Randy Wilson signed a negative declaration after re- viewing project plans and pub- lic comments in January. Comments did not change the design, he wrote, though they did result in some clarifi- cations and a re-circulated document. Five more comments were received after that, but he said they raised no significant new effects. No appeals of his decision were made to the Plumas County supervisors, so the work to get permits and bids in place continues via Plumas Corporation and the Feather River Coordinated Resource Management group. While officials in the man- agement group claim public comments were taken into consideration during the final plan preparations, local ex- perts are not so sure. Michael Kossow, owner of Meadowbrook Conservation Services, said project planners basically blew off their con- cerns. Kossow concluded the Red Clover Creek fish migration corridor had altered and be- come disconnected due to the pond-and-plug treatments. "I believe pond reaches im- pair fish migration," he wrote. "This is especially true for young-of-the-year rainbow trout that rely on free flowing water to disperse their popula- tions. "Competition from other fish that do well in ponds may also be a problem young-of- the-year rainbow trout en- counter while trying to occu- py the altered habitat." Kossow first began his "fishy" relationship with the Yellow Creek area in 1964, when newly constructed For- est Service and logging roads made fishing access easy.. -:'Over thenext 15 years he w'itnessed meadow and stream degradation due to hundreds of miles of roads and skid roads being added. Wilson requested a response be made to Kossow before he would sign the declaration. Resource management group project manager Leslie Mink replied that while most of the pond-and-plug project areas are not trout fisheries, there are some exceptions, like Red Clover and parts of Last Chance Creek. "Studying the response of fish populations to these pro- jects is an ongoing effort," she wro'te. "It has proven to be more difficult than one might think because of the difficulty of sampling ponds in the post- project condition.;' Red Clover Creek has shown a dramatic increase in trout productivity, though, she added. Fish migration shouldn't be an issue, since grade control structures are built specifical- ly to allow fish passage. Fish migration and the Whirling disease affecting the Wild trout fishery concerns "Little is known about how all of the native fish that in- habit the Yellow Creek water- shed use the free-flowing stream system during their entire lifecycle a.nd how the project may impact them," Kossow wrote. Kossow, who has been studying rainbow trout migra- tion in the greater Feather River watershed for 30 years, first became concerned about this issue after walking lower . Red Clover Creek this past summer. .,, : Red Clover Creek isiike:the flagship project for the man- agement group and was one of the only creeks that didn't blow out in the flood of 1997. New, anger hours to serve you better! PORTOLA MEDICAL CLINIC IS NOW OPEN: Man. & Wed. 8:00 am - 7:00pro Tues., Thurs. & Fri. 8:00 am- 5:00 prn Saturdays 9:00 am - 1:00 pm N Please call 832.6600 to schedule your appointment. wild rainbow trout population in Yellow Creek were con- cerns of California Fish and Game Environmental Pro- gram Manager Jeff Dron- gensen, who offered the de- partment's support of the pro- ject. The department is one of several agencies and organiza- tions that are members of the resource management group. Kossow still believes that the project will be a huge waste of time and money, un- less other issues in the water- shed are addressed, such as the roads arid grazing. "All this tinkering is very expensive," he wrote. "What happens when beaver move in and change the original de- sign? "Where will the mainte- nance and monitoring money come from as more and more projects are constructed? "The Plumas Corporation has created their own bureau- cracy." Flood concerns Ken Roby, retired Forest Service fisheries biologist, raised concerns as well. He focused some of his ex- pertise on the flood-control claims made in the plan, though most of his concerns were washed over. "As I stated in my initial comments, portions of Yellow Creek downstream of the pro- ject area maintain floodplain connectivity at present," he wrote. "How then, is flood- plain inundation upstream at the project area going to im- prove protection of People and i Hopes are that the restoration project along 6,396 feet of Yellow Creek and an unnamed stream channel in Humbug Valley will restore full hydrologic function and improve water quality and habitat for wildlife and coldwater fish, like the wild rainbow trout. The pond-and-plug method will be used, as shown on the design map,. even though some local experts still have reservations about its effects. Graphics courtesy Plumas Corporation Cultural and Development Group and the Native Ameri- can Heritage Commission. McCombs, with review by Pacific Gas and Electric Co. archaeologist James Nelson and Army Corps of Engineers archaeologist Erin Hess, deemed the project would not impact any native sites; rather, it would actually re- duce artifact loss from creek .erosion. "Lab analysis of sample toolstone was particularly m- teresting, with the obsidian geochemically sourced to Kel- ly Mountain in Plumas Coun- ty and to Buffalo Hills in Wash0e County, Nev.," Mc- Combs wrote. "The results added .to a growing database on the very active obsidian and basalt procurement net- work in effect prehistorically in Plumas County." Although scientifically un- clear, the Mountain Maidu creation story begins in Plumas and Lassen counties, and there is no oral history of migration as there is in many other Native American tribes. property?" The overall performance of the pond-and-plug projects continues to increase their confidence, replied Mink. "We also continue to learn lessons that translate back in- to design modifications," she added. In other words, the benefits of restoration were deemed worth the risk. Their designs at the bottom of the restoration project are made to withstand maximum stress, she added, though "most project decisions are made without exact certainty of the impacts." Damage-resistant design modifications built into this plan include not planting wil- lows on plug surfaces and us- ing sedge mats instead. The willows seem to concen- trate flows, she wrote, while the mat configurations retard flows. She also found a mistake in the flood protection data and said they might have overstat- ed flood protection claims, Cultural heritage concerns The. restoration project gen- erated a 269-acre heritage sur- vey in Humbug Valley in 2008, according to Diane McCombs, of McCombs Archaeology, Native American consulta- tion was provided by author and Maidu Summit Consor- tium member Beverly Ogle, the Greenville Rancheria of Maidu Indians, the Maidu Read more about it For more information about the Humbug Valley-Yellow Creek Meadow Restoration Project, visit feather-river- crm.org, and click on Docu- ments for Public Comment, then scroll down and click on the pertinent document links. Interested people may als0 call Mink at 283-3739. FIRE DAMAGE? WATER DAMAGE? .... i We've got the experience to handle your job from start to finish. We work with all insurance companies. 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