Thursday, September 27, 2012

Creek Obstruction Removal

A tangle of debris was left in this section of the creek channel following a flood in early 2011.  More material has collected since that time and the resulting dam has almost completely blocked the channel.

If left in place, this blockage will result in a major rerouting of the stream channel.  That option didn’t seem right for this particular area, so I decided to remove the debris and reopen the old channel.

Cutting a couple of key logs freed everything else, so it was just a matter of pulling pieces free and moving them out of the channel.  Most were just set out on the bank.  I’ll move everything to one of the brush piles later in the fall. 

Leaves and other organic material trapped by the obstruction were mostly well composted.  That compost will make its way downstream during the next big rain event.  Decomposing leaves are a primary source of nutrients for headwater stream systems.  Ideally, small pockets of leaves are left along the entire stream length instead of all piling up in one location.

The flood water will now make its way around to the left instead of jumping out of bank and running overland to the right.  The floodplain affected by out of bank flood water contains an assortment of wildflowers.  Loss of topsoil during flood times and direct damage to plants by the flood water threatened to destroy most of those plants.  High water may still makes its way across the flood plain, but that will happen much less frequently now that the blockage has been removed.

Creek blockages are natural occurrences that shape the development of a stream.  I normally leave these obstructions to run their natural course.  In this case, I considered the blockage to be somewhat unnatural because of the source of most of the original material.  The biggest part of the trees and branches creating the original tangle were from logging debris thrown into the channel somewhere upstream of Blue Jay Barrens.  A flash flood event dislodged the mess from its upstream resting place and relocated it here.  Without the addition of this artificially created debris, the obstruction would probably never have formed.  I accept changes created by natural events, but I do my best to correct man-made disasters.

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