"We don't need no stinkin' Beavers!" Beaver Habitat (OUT), Tenmile Creek Restoration (IN) - UPDATE
Updated: Apr 26, 2019
The last week in March was an eventful week for the Beaver Restoration Project. On Thursday, March 28th, a meeting was held at the proposed Beaver Restoration Habitat site on Tenmile Creek. The meeting included representatives from many of the state and federal agencies that will be responding to our 404 permit request once submitted. Cutting right to the point, the meeting was very informative and upon hearing inputs and recommendations from those gathered, we have decided that the best course of action is to change our project from a Beaver Restoration Habitat project to a Large Wood Creek Restoration project. While this is a big change from the original plan, it is important to note that this is not a step backward yet rather a step in the right direction. Let me briefly explain.
While history shows that beavers have historically thrived in Tenmile Creek and still do throughout the entire watershed, they have not created dams in the Creek recently. While trapping has occurred regularly in recent years, it is the great level and flow rate variance between summer lows and winter highs that make it very difficult for a beaver to build a dam. Quite frankly the beaver looks at the flows in winter and chooses not to even try. Therefore, if we were to build the beaver habitat, the analog would likely blow out and require near complete reconstruction annually as the piles wash out with the strong winter flows levels. Annual maintenance is a reasonable expectation for a project like this, however, rebuilding the project every year would be problematic in the long term.
Removal of sunken logs from Tenmile Creek –The experts that reviewed our creek and its faults at our meeting see this as the biggest impact on the creek. If logs were removed, this would directly increase the flow of the creek at its lowest levels. The low lake/creek levels appear to be correlated to this activity, but there is no way to know for sure.
Dune grass – A nod to the Tenmile Grassroots folks, the impacts of dune grass along the creek could absolutely be causing a problem with scouring. Since dune grass is very hardy, any grass along the banks of the creeks will slow the dunes from falling into the creek, thus creating a deeper channel in the creek.
Normal scouring based on the soil composition of the area – The sand and the mouth of the creek are ever-changing.
Climate Change – those in attendance at our meeting see this as a factor but compared to the other issues is the least impactful issue at this time.
Next Steps - So our 404 Permit will need to be rewritten to reflect a Large Wood Creek Restoration Project. Fortunately, Mike Mader from the Tenmile Lakes Basin Partnership has experience with these projects so he does not foresee any problems with a rewrite. The good news is, I do not anticipate the rewrite to change any of what has progressed thus far with the city. The city has some requirements that we will talk about in further detail next. We are excited to announce that it is now time to begin fundraising for the project and we need your help!
In late January, we submitted the 404 Permit to the City of Lakeside to request their approval. The City of Lakeside is the municipality and project landowner for the proposed location of the Beaver Habitat. The Mayor (James Edwards), the City Manager (Andrew Carlstrom), and the City Council have been very supportive of the project overall. The City called in their engineer team and their legal team to evaluate the proposal. Currently, they have two primary concerns that need to be addressed and mitigated for the project to proceed.
No Rise Flood Study – The first concern is flooding. The Large Wood Project would involve the installation of several large logs (24 inches in diameter or larger) in Tenmile Creek to help rebuild the floor of the creek and slow the flow of water. The City has requested a No Rise Flood Study to be done on the creek to understand the estimated impacts the Large Wood Project would have on the creek during the winter season. Ideally, the water flows over the wood in the winter (by upwards of 10 feet or more). The estimated cost of this study is $20,000.
Mixing Study - The second concern the City of Lakeside has is the effect on the Lakeside Sewer Treatment Plant. The DEQ allows the plant to release treated water into the creek during certain times when the creek is flowing enough to mix into the creek overflow. The Large Wood Project would slow water during low levels (in the creek and on the lake). Sand will also build up against the logs, causing the water to slow further. This study would evaluate the proposed creek flow rates and determine a new schedule for the Lakeside Sewer Plant to release treated water into the creek. It is important to note that this study - completed periodically as the creek changes naturally - already limits when the plant can release water. It is projected that our Large Wood Project will affect the flow rates at the beginning and end of the seasonal cycle of the creek. This would shorten the window of time that the plant can release water in the Spring and would delay the window of time when the plant can begin to release water in the Fall. The estimated cost for this study is $30,000.
Additional Expenses - We were approached recently by the Lakeside City Manager (Andrew Carlstrom), who let us know that the city has already incurred some expenses related to this project. When the project was presented to the City Council, I stated that the City would not incur costs related to this project. TLA has agreed to cover these costs that have been billed to the City. Going forward, I believe we should plan for these costs ahead of time. We need to raise funds to help with these costs as they are incurred. The estimated cost that the City will incur throughout this project is $10,000.
What does this mean for you and for us? We need these studies completed with satisfactory assessments to receive approval for the 404 Permit from the City of Lakeside so that it may be submitted next to the proper State and Federal agencies.
Now is the time to move forward as a community to proceed with this project and truly fix our lake. We need to raise a total of $60,000 at the outset of this project to perform these studies and cover City expenses related to the project. It is critical to note that raising and spending these funds does not guarantee the approval of the project. This is the first step to provide the City with the data they need to make a decision to support the project moving forward. If we gain their approval, we would be ready to submit the 404 Permit to the State and Federal agencies for official approval.
A final note on the timing of this project - Once initiated, these studies could take up to 6 months for completion. At this point, we are looking at late summer 2020 to begin to install the Large Wood Project. After the completion and hopefully approval, the 404 Permit process allows 90 days for all agencies involved to respond. Factoring in the seasons and timing of the approval process and studies, this is the earliest date we believe we can complete the project. Of course, this is all assuming we’re able to raise the initial $60,000 for the studies and costs associated with the project incurred by the City. Since the change in direction of the project, this is not the total cost of the project. Alan is working on obtaining a grant for this project and is in the process of updating the total project cost. Any funds donated will be considered matching funds for any grant we are given.
Here’s where we need your help! It’s time to donate. Every dollar counts. If you love Tenmile Lake and would love to see the water level improve, please head over to our website and donate today! If you would like to speak to me directly regarding this project or any funding concerns, please do not hesitate to call me or come down to the marina to chat in person. The marina phone number is 541-759-3312.
You can donate now at www.tenmilelakes.com/support