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Issues : : Gravel Transport
    Spring Run Chinook Salmon

Gravel Transport

  Gravel Transport  

Many landowners, homeowners and stakeholders in the Butte Creek Watershed are either unaware or apathetic towards the current gravel and tree encroachment situation.  This problem stretches from the confines to the flood levee system in the Durham area to the upper canyon.  These are areas that pose very serious flooding issues to all property owners in relative proximity to Butte Creek.

The origin of this problem is the hydraulic gold mining that took place in the upper reaches of Butte Creek in the early 1900's.  This mining operation left behind tremendous quantities of gravel or mine tailings.  These deposits were most recently brought into motion by the extremely high flows associated with the 100+ year 1997 storm event.  Volumes of gravel are now being dislodged every winter causing bank erosion, sediment problems and down stream tree encroachment.

Access to much of Butte Creek is difficult, but one only needs to look up stream from the Durham Dayton Road bridge to see an example of the pending problem.  The trees that are growing on the gravel bar at this location are extending into the creek's main channel and will have serious effects on the flood conveyance capacity and the integrity of the flood control levees.  This situation, and many others like it, are occurring at numerous locations throughout the watershed.  The gravel bars, and subsequent tree encroachment, are growing larger each year.

Since the Spring Run Chinook Salmon were identified as an threatened species, the Department of Water Resources, Army Corps of Engineers and the California Department of Fish and Game have thwarted any attempts to remove these deposits and restore the natural channel.

The butte Creek Watershed Conservancy has been very active in bringing political recognition to this problem.  In May, the BCWC hosted a tour attended by representatives from State Senator Wally Herger, Assemblyman Rick Keen and Assemblyman Doug La Malfa.

In later reports at our office all three vowed support for our efforts to alleviate these issues.

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