Stream Habitats

Fish Creek

Fish Creek is a small tributary to the Cedar River.

The Cedar River defines the geographic center of the Cedar River Municipal Watershed. The river’s many tributaries transport water and sediment from the surrounding hillslopes and provide important habitat to fish, amphibians, and invertebrates. The watershed's streams are, of course, highly variable as a result of variation in stream size within the stream network and the wide range of elevations and slope gradients over which they occur.

The Cedar River is a relatively small, narrow stream at its headwaters toward the crest of the Cascade Mountains. As it develops greater flow and stream power downstream, the effects of past land use activities become more apparent. Much of the upper Cedar River channel above Chester Morse Lake is recovering from the effects of increased sediment loads, loss of riparian vegetation, and reduced amounts of large woody debris.

In the lower watershed from Cedar Falls to Landsburg, the river is less altered because it is confined within a glacial outwash terrace, the surrounding landscape is less steep, and the riparian forest has been recovering longer than in the upper watershed. However, LWD levels in the lower Cedar River are very likely lower than they were prior to Euro-American settlement.

Other streams in the upper watershed, such as the Rex River and Boulder, Rack, Seattle, and Goat creeks, have also been impacted by past timber harvest and road building. Input of coarse sediment from mass wasting events triggered by these land-use activities have resulted in scoured channels and destabilized stream banks. Reduced levels of LWD have further altered stream processes.

Lower watershed streams, such as Taylor, Rock, Williams, and Webster creeks, have also been altered by past land-use in the watershed, although the effects of mass wasting are less prominent. Most significantly, reduced LWD has led to loss of channel complexity and lower habitat quality for salmonid fish.

Goals for stream habitats

The overarching goal of aquatic restoration under the HCP is to protect or improve the quality of the surface water in CRMW, to provide a net benefit for species of concern that are dependent on riparian or aquatic habitats, and to contribute to the recovery of these species while preserving and protecting the municipal water supply. Specific objectives to achieve this goal have been defined for riparian habitat and for aquatic habitat, which includes addressing problems related to roads. Stream habitat objectives include:

  1. Protect soils in floodplains, riparian areas, and steep slopes from degradation and erosion to minimize the amount of sediment input caused by management activity
  2. Restore natural aquatic and riparian ecological processes and habitat complexity
  3. Through engineered road improvements, decommissioning, and improved maintenance, reduce the higher rate of fine and coarse sediment loading to aquatic systems stemming from past land-use activities
  4. Improve fish access to significant upstream habitat where connections are interrupted by roads

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What are we doing for stream habitats?

Aquatic and Riparian Habitat Restoration
Aquatic and riparian habitat restoration actions include LWD replacement, bank stabilization, streamside revegetation, and improving passage of fish and peak flows where roads cross streams. Restoration thinning in riparian stands younger than 30 years and ecological thinning in older stands is implemented to increase the rate of future recruitment of functional LWD.

View more information on our aquatic and riparian habitat restoration program.

Strategic Planning
Aquatic restoration is emphasized where benefits will complement those of riparian and upland restoration. Restoration of streams and decommissioning and improving roads are generally focused upstream before problems downstream are addressed.

View more about our strategic planning.

Road Improvements and Decommissioning
Many road improvements are directed at achieving natural flow patterns of water where water flow interacts with roads. This reduces the risk of increased find sediment and road failures that lead to mass wasting events. Road decommissioning is focused on unneeded roads that pose elevated risks for fine and coarse sediment to streams.

See more information on road improvements and decommissioning.

Protect All Watershed Habitats
No commercial timber harvest under the HCP has reduced vehicle traffic on watershed roads, thereby decreasing the amount of fine sediment input to streams, and allowed the City to decommission many roads that are no longer needed. By eliminating clear cut timber harvest, mass wasting events induced by removal of trees on steep slopes will no longer occur.

View more information on habitat protection.

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