Sheep Creek Project an Awesome Success
Rocky Mountain Fly Casters News Letter
by Dave Piske
Saturday, September 26 was the perfect day to be high in the alpine forests adjacent to the Comanche Wilderness Mountains. That's where a crew of 25 energized volunteers from Rocky Mountain Flycasters (RMF) and Wildlands Restoration Volunteers (WRV) tackled two reconnect projects on cutthroat trout streams. The projects had been on RMF's project list for three years. But in each prior year it was postponed by Mother Nature's supreme control of weather and her other natural powers, including ignition of the nearby High Park wildfire by lightning. On September 26, 2015 all systems and people were "GO", and the key tasks were attacked and accomplished on that one day.
The project sites were on the East Fork and West Fork of Sheep Creek where each fork flows under Crown Point Road near its western terminus at an elevation of 10,500 feet. This is U. S. Forest Service land. The streams and the fish are managed by Matt Fairchild, the lead fisheries biologist for Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forest.
Before September, a contractor had replaced the old, small-diameter culverts that supported Crown Point Road over the forks of Sheep Creek. During earlier years, flows through those old culverts had eroded the stream channel beds, creating barriers to the spawning migration of the cutthroats. The goal of the project was to restore easy fish passage between the upper and lower reaches in each of the two Forks. The new culverts are custom-designed, 14-feet wide, 7-feet high semi-circle culverts with cast-in-place concrete floors.
Until August this year, tasks for the volunteers were expected to be simple re-vegetation of the stream banks upstream and downstream of the new culverts. But a mid-August inspection of the newly completed culverts revealed that much more needed to be done. The full set of volunteers' tasks also included: (1) redirecting the creek inflow route to the culverts, (2) creating rock benches to stabilize the creeks' banks leading into the culverts, (3) building rock check dams in the roadside ditches that convey road surface and cut-banks' runoff into the culverts, and (4) constructing a10-feet diameter catch-basin to capture sediment that otherwise would be deposited in the creek. A mid-August site inspection revealed that the work would be more than an all-RMF crew could accomplish in one day.
Having in mind earlier successful cooperative projects involving WRV and RMF, such as the Skin Gulch project in May of this year, we jointly investigated the possibility of cooperating at the Sheep Creek culverts project. Fortuitously, September 26 turned out to be an excellent day for another collaboration of RMF and WRV volunteers. And the RMF volunteers who made the Sheep Creek project such a success are: Bob Cogswell, Dennis Cook, David Cunningham, Tim Gaines, Mickey McGuire, Tim Meyer, Roger Slocomb and Liz Slocomb. Many thanks to all of them, and to the WRV volunteers for the success of the project.
by: jibber on 10/7/2015 7:30:00 AM
Way to go RMFC! Another success story for a TU chapter! This story gives me hope that our, the Cutthroat Chapter's, Forest Service, AOP project at the Pine Creek Culvert on the South Platte River will someday be completed.