Friday, November 24, 2017
Information
 

Lapwai Creek Steelhead Habitat

Purpose: To enhance steelhead trout natural production by improving salmonid spawning and rearing habitat in the Lapwai Creek Watershed.

Objectives:

  1. Reduce Stream Temperatures
  2. Improve Aquatic Habitat Diversity & Complexity
  3. Reduce Instream Sedimentation

Deliverables:

  1. Improve Riparian Condition
  2. Reduce Streambank Erosion
  3. Reduce Road Related Sediment Delivery to the Stream
  4. Reduce Sediment Delivery to Streams from Uplands
  5. Remove or Retrofit Fish Barriers
  6. Restore Floodplain Access and Reconnect Channel
  7. Improve Watershed Hydrology

Project funded through Bonneville Power Administration’s Fish and Wildlife Program.
Supplemental funding through Idaho Governor’s Office of Species Conservation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Pacific Coast Salmon Recover Fund, and Idaho Department of Environmental Quality’s EPA Clean Water Act Section 319 grant program.

 

Restoring Anadromous Fish Habitat - Lapwai Creek
 

Steelhead Spawning Video
 

Lapwai Creek

Lapwai Creek is located in North Central Idaho and is within Nez Perce and Lewis counties, Idaho. The National Marine Fisheries Service in their 2011 draft Idaho Snake River spring/summer Chinook and steelhead Recovery Plan identifies Lapwai Creek as critical steelhead habitat within the lower Clearwater River.

Steelhead habitat restoration efforts have been on-going since 2003. The majority of the funding for restoration efforts is provided by the Bonneville Power Administration, with supplemental funding from Idaho Governor’s Office of Species Conservation’s Snake River Basin Adjudication Program and Pacific Coast Salmon Recovery Fund and the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality’s EPA Clean Water Act Section 319 grant program.

Lapwai Creek Steelhead Habitat Restoration Plan

This planning effort was a joint project between the Nez Perce Soil and Water Conservation District (NPSWCD) and the Nez Perce Tribe Department of Fisheries Resources Management Watershed Division (NPT-DFRM-Watershed). The document’s purpose is to guide steelhead habitat restoration activities within the Lapwai Creek watershed for the period of 2009-2019.
View Plan

Restoration Projects

Restoration project activities are planned annually with most individual activities taking three to five years to complete. Project activities are categorized as outreach/education, monitoring/data collection, demonstration projects, and land improvement projects. Land improvement projects consist of three phases. First is to complete a land inventory which helps identifies improvements. Second is design completion which details the construction needs and third is implementation of the design where we work with landowners to fund project installation. Not all projects make it through the three phases as costs, feasibility or landowner management goals are not met.

 

Land Improvement Activities

South Tom Beall Creek Riparian Buffer Project

This site is located within the geographical priority unit defined as LC1 in the Lapwai Creek Ecological Restoration Strategy (2009). This site is a component of the South Tom Beall Buffer Implementation Plan which was developed in 2011. The site is a 1.25 mile long stream segment that did not have a vegetative buffer. Prior to implementation of this plan, the site was impacted by agricultural tillage practices adjacent to and within the stream channel. Due to the size of the stream segment, habitat restoration has been completed in phases. Phases I – V plantings occurred in years 2012 – 2016, respectively. The vegetative plantings included grass, forbs, shrubs and trees in order to address fish habitat limiting factors such as high stream temperatures, sedimentation, nutrients, and lack of in-stream habitat complexity and diversity. Plantings are installed within the riparian zone or the transition zone between aquatic and upland habitat within the Tom Beall Creek floodplain. These plantings will assist in restoring the floodplain to properly function conditions, provide wildlife cover and forage enhancement, erosion control and soil stabilization through a reduction in run-off. Approximately 5.29 acres of riparian area planting, 1.17 acres of wetland revegetation, and 6 acres of grass seeding have been installed in order to provide a buffer to filter nutrients and sediment, provide stream shade and stabilize the streambank. The implementation included the following types of vegetation planted at the restoration site: dormant hardwood cuttings, rooted trees, shrubs, and forb stock, and/or grass and forb seed. The plants were installed in a pattern and spacing that mimics the natural vegetation in the vicinity.

Figure 1. South Tom Beall Creek Riparian Buffer Project - 2011
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South Tom Beall Creek Riparian Buffer Project - 2011

Figure 2. South Tom Beall Creek Riparian Buffer Project - 2017
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South Tom Beall Creek Riparian Buffer Project - 2017

North Reubens Riparian Planting

This site is located within the geographical priority unit identified as LC2 in the Lapwai Creek Ecological Restoration Strategy (2009). The North Reubens Riparian Project covers 1.25 miles, the 1.25 mile reach will be installed in phases due to budget constraints. The site identified in Phase I is currently impacted by agricultural tillage practices adjacent to and within the stream channel. Phase I plantings included 500 LF of stream vegetative plantings which included grass, forbs. shrubs and trees in order to address fish habitat limiting factors such as high stream temperatures, sedimentation, nutrients, and lack of in-stream habitat complexity and diversity. In 2015, the District planted a total of 1.00 acre of native trees/shrubs and grass. The plantings were installed within the riparian zone or the transition zone between aquatic and upland habitat within the Rock Creek floodplain. These plantings were installed above the average high watermark, or bank full height. The riparian vegetation will assist in restoring the floodplain to properly functioning conditions, provide wildlife cover and forage enhancement, erosion control and soil stabilization through a reduction in run-off. Implementation of these plantings will assist in meeting the Lapwai Creek Steelhead Habitat Restoration Plan objectives which include reducing stream temperatures, improving aquatic habitat complexity and diversity, and reduction of instream sedimentation.

Figure 3. North Reubens Riparian 2015
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North Reubens Riparian 2015

Figure 4. North Reubens Riparian 2016
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North Reubens Riparian 2017

Tom Beall Floodplain Reconnection

This site is located within the Tom Beall Creek watershed, a tributary of Lapwai Creek in Nez Perce County, Idaho. This project will relocate 0.23 miles of South Tom Beall Creek to its original channel. The stream channel was moved in the late 1970s to a location on the south side of South Tom Beall Road. The relocated channel is unstable, causing annual erosion into the road bank and downcutting. The landowner used the original channel area as a feedlot until 2003, when the feedlot was relocated. The area was surveyed and determined that the original channel profile was not filled or modified. Construction for this project is estimated to occur in 2017/2018.

Mission Creek Bridge Replacement

This project is phase two of a five phase project to restore the floodplain in the Mission and Rock Creek watersheds. Phase two replaced an existing bridge on Mission Creek that caused seasonal fish barriers due to flow restriction. The existing 40 LF bridge was replaced with a prefabricated 80 LF bridge. The existing bridge was considered a partial and/or ephemeral barrier. The bridge restricted flow causing bedload to be deposited upstream of the structure. The bedload created a lack of connectivity between the upstream and downstream segments of Mission Creek. The barrier was flow dependent, meaning that the barrier did not exist when flows rose above the bedload. Based on photo point monitoring and a review of historic bridge monitoring reports, it appeared that the barrier occurred on an annual basis with the majority of blockage occurring in the months of June through September. This seasonal barrier prevented juvenile fish from migrating upstream and downstream during the highest stream temperature months. The replacement bridge is wider than the 47 LF bankfull width and the 71 LF flood prone width allowing unrestricted flow.

Mission Creek Bridge Replacement Proposal Information

Figure 5. Mission Creek Bridge 2014
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Mission Creek Bridge 2014

Figure 6. Mission Creek Bridge 2017
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Mission Creek Bridge 2017

Rock Creek Floodplain Restoration

This project is phase three of a five phase project to restore the floodplain in the Mission and Rock Creek watersheds. Phase three will install fencing to restrict livestock access to the stream, install large woody debris to increase floodplain roughness, and install streambank protection measures.

Figure 7. Rock Creek Floodplain 2017
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Rock Creek 2017

Mission Creek Streambank Erosion and Stream Crossing

This site was identified as a high priority in 2013 as a segment of stream with unstable channel, excessive bank erosion, inadequate riparian area, and inadequate landowner access. This project was selected for analysis and preliminary concept plan development in order to address the identified issues and meet objectives identified in the Lapwai Creek Ecological Restoration Strategy (2009).

The project begins below the limestone quarry on Mission Creek and continues downstream to the private landowner bridge located on Goechner Lane. Currently, the project focuses on the private land portions of the stream. The Nez Perce Tribe has been contacted to determine their interest in inventory and analysis work being performed on the segments identified as trust lands.

Figure 8. Mission Creek Streambank Erosion and Stream Crossing
(Click on image to view a larger version)

Mission Creek Streambank

Sweetwater Creek Streambank Erosion and Stream Crossing

This site was identified as a high priority in 2013 as a segment of stream with unstable channel, excessive bank erosion, inadequate riparian area, and inadequate landowner access. This project was selected for analysis and preliminary concept plan development in order to address the identified issues and meet objectives identified in the Lapwai Creek Ecological Restoration Strategy (2009).

The project begins at the confluence of East and West Fork Sweetwater Creek and continues downstream to the confluence of Packers Gulch with Sweetwater Creek. Currently, the project focuses on the private land portions of the stream. The Nez Perce Tribe has been contacted to determine their interest in inventory and analysis work being performed on the segments identified as trust lands. A detailed streambank erosion inventory was completed in 2014 along the private land holdings of the project reach.

Figure 9. Sweetwater Creek Streambank Erosion and Stream Crossing
(Click on image to view a larger version)

Sweetwater Creek Streambank

Riparian Zone Noxious Weed Control Treatments

In the summer the District treats up to 100 riparian acres for weeds in Nez Perce County. Sites are visited and treated by scalping, weed eating, and spraying. The target species are poison hemlock and the target areas included those most visited by people to prevent spread. The sites treated are part of an on-going effort to improve fish habitat in the Lapwai Creek Watershed. By working to control the poison hemlock and other invasive weeds at these sites, it is the District’s goal to reduce the instream temperature and improve the riparian corridor. This project was funded by the Bonneville Power Administration Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Program and the Idaho State Department of Agriculture Noxious Weed Program.

2017 End of Year Report
2016 End of Year Report
2015 End of Year Report
2014 End of Year Report
2013 End of Year Report

Figure 10. Riparian Zone Noxious Weed Control – Scalping
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Riparian Zone Scalping

Figure 11. Riparian Zone Noxious Weed Control Mowing
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Riparian Zone Mowing

No Till & Conservation Tillage Systems

No till and conservation tillage systems work includes the evaluation of four sites for erosion reduction and water infiltration improvements. Landowners implemented a direct seeding system designed to achieve specified soil bulk density, soil slake, soil electroconductivity (EC), and water infiltration rates. Landowners provided the cost of implementing the system. Lapwai Creek Steelhead Habitat project funds were used for District staff time in providing recommendations and for soil quality evaluations to determine progress in meeting the identified standards. Direct seeding systems reduce erosion by 30 to 80% depending upon the field slope and soil type. Approximately 1,647.3 acres of cropland within the Sweetwater and Tom Beall Creek drainages were seeded with direct seeding systems. Using the District Soil Quality Evaluation Protocol (modified from the USDA's Soil Quality Test Kit Guide Protocol in 2005), District staff evaluated cropland fields that pose a significant erosion and sedimentation risk due to steep slopes, proximity to stream, buffer width, soil texture, and past agricultural tillage and management practices.

 

Monitoring and Data Collection Activities

Stream Temperature Monitoring

Stream temperature monitoring is a component of a watershed-wide monitoring effort within the Lapwai Creek watershed which lists steelhead (O. mykiss) as an endangered species. Stream temperature impacts the rates of biological and chemical processes in aquatic organisms by affecting: 1) the oxygen content of the water (oxygen levels become lower as temperature increases); 2) the rate of photosynthesis by aquatic plants; 3) the metabolic rates of aquatic organisms; 4) the sensitivity of organisms to toxic wastes, parasites and diseases.

Lapwai Creek Ecological Restoration Strategy (2009) identifies stream temperature as a limiting factor in achieving steelhead restoration objectives. One of the watershed’s objectives is to reduce in-stream temperatures to the benchmark conditions of zero days of water temperature exceeding 16°C. Stream temperatures above 16°C inhibit steelhead spawning. The maximum temperature at which cold water biota prefer to exist is 22°C. The loss of vegetative shading, channel widening, and reduced baseflows in Lapwai Creek are the predominant causes of elevated stream temperatures and make these criteria applicable to the watershed (NOAA, 1996).

Thirty-nine stream temperature sites within the Lapwai Creek watershed are monitored using continuous data recording devices. Monitoring frequency is outlined in the NPSWCD's Stream TemperatureMonitoring Plan.

Lapwai Creek 2015 Monitoring Results
Lapwai Creek 2006-2012 Monitoring Results
Mission Creek 2003-2012 Monitoring Results

 

Demonstration Activities

Hemlock Rehabilitation Demonstration Project

The demonstration project began in 2012 as part of an effort to identify the best techniques for the restoration of heavily infested poison hemlock vegetation sites. Restoration projects adjacent to streams and springs in the Lapwai Creek watershed are necessary to improve steelhead habitat along the streams. Springs within the lower Lapwai system contribute significantly to lower stream temperatures and have been documented to be areas of high juvenile steelhead densities. The majority of the springs are heavily infested with invasive species. In order to restore native vegetation to these ecosystems the noxious and invasive plants need to be suppressed. The field trial and demonstration will focus on poison hemlock control and revegetation. The NPSWCD identified poison hemlock as one of the top three weeds (along with reeds canarygrass and knotweed) to control prior to restoration.

Figure 12. Poison Hemlock Demonstration Project Treatment Map

Poison Hemlock Map

In 2012, areas were designated for spraying, mowing, mowing and spraying, and no treatment. These areas are roughly illustrated in the image below. The mowing was performed with weed eaters, while the spraying was completed using backback sprayers with metsulfuron methyl (1 gram / gallon) and glyphosate. The first treatment was on May 30, 2012 and the second on August 20, 2012, the third on June 10, 2013 and the fourth on June 4, 2014. Part of the site was cultivated in November 2014, then harrowed using an ATV and drag harrow in February 2, 2015 and broadcast seeded using hand seeders on February 4, 2015. The grass species used included Idaho Fescue, Secar Bluebunch Wheatgrass, Sherman Big Bluegrass, and Magnar Basin Wildrye.

A variety of trees and shrubs were planted in December 2014 and February 2015. These shrubs are planted in rows with either weed barrier or no barrier. The rows are numbered with signs attached to fence posts. The species planted include sage (3 types), winterfat, four wing salt bush, syringe, ponderosa pine, basin wildrye, rose, sumac (2 types), and mountain mahogany (2 types). The plants will be monitored for survival over time.

See a photo gallery a photo gallery of this project below.

 

Hemlock Rehabilitation Photo Gallery

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Outreach and Education Activities

Newsletters

The District’s Forever Soil & Water newsletter is published four times a year and has been produced since 1979. The newsletter highlights District projects, local landowners, partners, and provides local landowners with natural resource information. The newsletter is mailed to 2,000 local landowners and is also available on the website.

Self-Guided Tours

Lapwai Creek Self-Guided Tours 2017

South Tom Beall Self-Guided Tour

 

Contact Us

Nez Perce
Soil and Water
Conservation District

Office Location:
27880 Chambers Road
Culdesac, ID 83524
(Map of Office Location)

Phone: 208-843-2931
Fax: 208-843-2234

E-mail NPSWCD

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 131
Culdesac, ID 83524

Office Hours:
10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Monday-Thursday
or by appointment


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