RESTORATION

Dave Rosgen and Wildland Hydrology have assessed, designed, implemented, and/or monitored over 70 large-scale river restoration projects using assessment and natural channel design methods developed by Wildland Hydrology. Natural channel design was developed to restore our severely degraded rivers plagued by poor land use practices and traditional river works. The approach is premised in working with the central tendencies of river systems to restore their natural functioning, such as re-establishing the lateral connection between the channel and its floodplain. Dave and his projects have been featured in Time, Science, 5280, National Geographic, The Denver Post, and The New York Times.

Select Restoration Project to view:

 

Heartrock Ranch, Idaho, 2011

An ecological restoration compatible with livestock operations that increased wild trout and wildlife populations by eliminating flood irrigation by raising the water table in addition to constructing 13 miles of stream channels and 44 oxbow ponds and wetland/waterfowl areas. Ten years of monitoring was conducted, including groundwater, surface water, fish abundance, redd counts, and benthic surveys, to determine the project was effective at meeting project goals, including delivering more return flows to the downstream reaches.

Heartrock Ranch one year after restoration without flood irrigation
Heartrock Ranch before restoration with flood irrigation

BEFORE RESTORATION: Heartrock Ranch before restoration with flood irrigation

AFTER RESTORATION: Heartrock Ranch one year after restoration without flood irrigation

Crystal Creek after
Crystal Creek before

BEFORE RESTORATION: Crystal Creek before

AFTER RESTORATION: Crystal Creek after

Crystal Creek before

Oxbow pond with flood irrigation water routed through the oxbow and into wetlands, waterfowl habitat, and juvenile fish and food production areas

Crystal Creek before

Waterfowl habitat, emergent wetland, and food production area constructed out of previous entrenched channel, post-construction

Post-restoration condition that converted the previous entrenched Crystal Creek into a wetland (as shown) while remeandering Crystal Creek in a new location
Crystal Creek before restoration showing overwide, entrenched channel

BEFORE RESTORATION: Crystal Creek before restoration showing overwide, entrenched channel

AFTER RESTORATION: Post-restoration condition that converted the previous entrenched Crystal Creek into a wetland (as shown) while remeandering Crystal Creek in a new location

Crystal Creek two years post-restoration showing constructed channel with toe wood along streambank and the vegetation response
Crystal Creek before restoration

BEFORE RESTORATION: Crystal Creek before restoration

AFTER RESTORATION: Crystal Creek two years post-restoration showing constructed channel with toe wood along streambank and the vegetation response

Crystal Creek before

Cross-vane diversion structure delivering water to a series of oxbows

Blue River & Tributaries, Colorado, 1994 – 2013

Assessed, designed, and implemented over 7.0 mi of river restoration over 6 phases beginning in 1994 to improve in-channel stability and functioning, enhance aquatic habitat, and create wetlands and off-channel habitat for multiple species. Off-channel ponds were created and interconnected with small channels. Native willows were transplanted and reinforced throughout the project.

Blue River & Tributaries, Colorado, 1994 – 2013

J-Hook Vane on the Blue River

Blue River & Tributaries, Colorado, 1994 – 2013

Blue River main channel and oxbows

Blue River & Tributaries, Colorado, 1994 – 2013

Step-pool outlet from oxbow pond

Blue River & Tributaries, Colorado, 1994 – 2013

An oxbow created for habitat diversity

Blue River & Tributaries, Colorado, 1994 – 2013

Transition from a J-Hook Vane to Toe Wood designed to reduce streambank erosion and create fish habitat

Blue River & Tributaries, Colorado, 1994 – 2013

A small, interconnect channel constructed between oxbows to enhance aquatic habitat

East Fork of the San Juan River, Colorado, 1986 – 1987

The first known attempt that converted 1.0 mi of a braided channel system to a single-thread, meandering, riffle-pool channel to improve aquatic habitat and reduce the high sediment supply by increasing the sediment transport competence and capacity and reducing streambank erosion. Off-channel habitat was created by excavating a pond and the material was used to build floodplains and terraces. Extensive sediment measurements and stability assessments were conducted prior to the restoration. Featured in National Geographic (special edition of water, November, 1993).

BEFORE RESTORATION: Braided channel before construction in 1985

AFTER RESTORATION: Meandering channel and floodplain following construction in 1987

BEFORE RESTORATION: East Fork River during construction in 1986

AFTER RESTORATION: East Fork River in 2015 – 29 years after restoration

East Fork River in 2015 – 29 years after restoration

East Fork River in 2015 – 29 years after restoration

Trail Creek Watershed, Colorado, 2010 – 2013

Assessed, designed, and began implementation of a master watershed and river restoration plan to reduce the accelerated sediment yields following the Hayman Wildfire in 2002 for the entire 16 mi2 watershed. Coordinated with Federal agencies and the Coalition for the Upper South Platte. An individual 404 permit was issued for the entire watershed restoration plan to be implemented over 20 years with trained federal, state, and local municipalities to continue implementing the watershed master plan.

Watershed Assessment of River Stability and Sediment Supply (WARSSS)

Used WARSSS to quantify sediment loading by location and process to direct the master restoration plan.

BEFORE RESTORATION: Trail Creek before restoration showing an entrenched F4 stream type

AFTER RESTORATION: Trail Creek two years post-restoration showing a step-pool B4 stream type

BEFORE RESTORATION: Trail Creek before restoration showing an aggrading reach looking upstream from a sediment-buried box culvert (6.0 ft deep)

AFTER RESTORATION: Trail Creek two year post-restoration showing a step-pool stream

BEFORE RESTORATION: Trail Creek before restoration showing road and stream crossing

AFTER RESTORATION: Trail Creek two year post-restoration showing relocation

BEFORE RESTORATION: Trail Creek before restoration showing an aggrading reach looking upstream from a sediment-buried box culvert (6.0 ft deep)

AFTER RESTORATION: Trail Creek two year post-restoration showing a step-pool stream

Waldo Canyon Fire: Watershed Master Restoration Plan, Colorado, 2012 – 2014

Assessed the 52 mi2 watershed affected by Waldo Canyon Wildfire to determine high priority locations with accelerated sediment yields to provide restoration recommendations. Also developed a master plan for watershed restoration and sediment reduction based on the assessment and implemented portions of the plan; trained federal, state, and local municipalities to implement the master plan. Coordinated with the Coalition for the Upper South Platte, Colorado Springs Utilities, and the City of Colorado Springs.

Watershed Assessment of River Stability and Sediment Supply (WARSSS)

Used WARSSS to quantify sediment loading by location and process to direct the master restoration plan.

Constructed debris basin in enlarged gully on North Douglas Creek to reconnect fan and fill gully
North Douglas Creek prior to restoration showing active alluvial fan with gully.

BEFORE RESTORATION: North Douglas Creek prior to restoration showing active alluvial fan with gully.

AFTER RESTORATION: Constructed debris basin in enlarged gully on North Douglas Creek to reconnect fan and fill gully.

North Douglas Creek following the first flows that filled the debris basin with sediment and created the desired braided channel on the fan surface

North Douglas Creek following the first flows that filled the debris basin with sediment and created the desired braided channel on the fan surface.

Weminuche Creek, Colorado, 1986 – 2006

Assessed, designed, and implemented over 5.0 mi of restoration over five phases beginning in 1986 to improve channel functioning and aquatic habitat. Abandoned channel reaches were converted to oxbow lakes to raise the water table and to improve the aquatic and terrestrial habitat. Extensive measurements including sediment, fish habitat, benthics, and monitoring resurveys were collected from 1986–2008.

Weminuche Creek after restoration showing a single-thread channel with a J-Hook Vane structure and willow transplants
Weminuche Creek prior to restoration showing an overwide, braided channel

BEFORE RESTORATION: Weminuche Creek prior to restoration showing an overwide, braided channel .

AFTER RESTORATION: Weminuche Creek after restoration showing a single-thread channel with a J-Hook Vane structure and willow transplants.

Weminuche Creek after restoration that reconnected the 2,100 ft of abandoned channel and reconnected the channel to its floodplain by plugging the gully at the point of avulsion and creating a series of oxbow ponds within the previous gully
Weminuche Creek prior to restoration showing channel avulsion and gully that cutoff 2,100 ft of channel

BEFORE RESTORATION: Weminuche Creek prior to restoration showing channel avulsion and gully that cutoff 2,100 ft of channel.

AFTER RESTORATION: Weminuche Creek after restoration that reconnected the 2,100 ft of abandoned channel and reconnected the channel to its floodplain by plugging the gully at the point of avulsion and creating a series of oxbow ponds within the previous gully .

North Douglas Creek following the first flows that filled the debris basin with sediment and created the desired braided channel on the fan surface

Detailed sediment measurements were taken to validate a sediment transport capacity model (FlowSed/PowerSed) and for assessment and design purposes.

Weminuche Creek featured on the cover of Southwest Fly Fishing

Weminuche Creek featured on the cover of Southwest Fly Fishing.

Little Snake River and Tributaries, Colorado, 1999 – 2001

Assessed, designed, and implemented 21 miles of river restoration on the Little Snake River and tributaries to improve geomorphic and ecological functioning in addition to creating habitat diversity with in-channel and off-channel features. Monitored for five years by Colorado State University.

A multi-step Cross-Vane diversion implemented on the Middle Fork of Little Snake River

A multi-step Cross-Vane diversion implemented on the Middle Fork of Little Snake River.

Step-Pool outflow channel below oxbow

Step-Pool outflow channel below oxbow .

Water feature

Water feature.

Oxbow created to enhance habitat

Oxbow created to enhance habitat.

Roaring Fork of Little Snake River post-restoration showing constructed stream with transplanted vegetation
Roaring Fork of Little Snake River prior to restoration showing entrenched F4 stream type with eroding banks

BEFORE RESTORATION: Roaring Fork of Little Snake River prior to restoration showing entrenched F4 stream type with eroding banks.

AFTER RESTORATION: Roaring Fork of Little Snake River post-restoration showing constructed stream with transplanted vegetation.

Roaring Fork of Little Snake River post-restoration showing constructed B4 stream type with log and rock step-pool structures
Roaring Fork of Little Snake River prior to restoration showing entrenched F4 stream type with eroding banks

BEFORE RESTORATION: Roaring Fork of Little Snake River prior to restoration showing entrenched F4 stream type with eroding banks.

AFTER RESTORATION: Roaring Fork of Little Snake River post-restoration showing constructed B4 stream type with log and rock step-pool structures.

Middle Fork of Little Snake River post-restoration showing reconstructed floodplain and J-Hook Vane structure
Middle Fork of Little Snake River prior to restoration

BEFORE RESTORATION: Middle Fork of Little Snake River prior to restoration.

AFTER RESTORATION: Middle Fork of Little Snake River post-restoration showing reconstructed floodplain and J-Hook Vane structure.

Roaring Fork of Little Snake River post-restoration showing constructed log and rock step-pool structures
Roaring Fork of Little Snake River prior to restoration

BEFORE RESTORATION: Roaring Fork of Little Snake River prior to restoration.

AFTER RESTORATION: Roaring Fork of Little Snake River post-restoration showing constructed log and rock step-pool structures.

Blanco River, Colorado, 1987, 1993

Assessed, designed, and implemented 2.7 mi of stream restoration that converted a braided channel system to a single-thread, meandering stream to regain the physical and ecological functions of the river system. The floodplain was rebuilt to connect to the channel.

Aerial image from Google Earth in 2013 showing the retention of a single-thread, meandering C4 stream type restored in 1987 below a braided D4 stream type above the project reach

Aerial image from Google Earth in 2013 showing the retention of a single-thread, meandering C4 stream type restored in 1987 below a braided D4 stream type above the project reach.

A sediment vortex tube below placed at the start of the restoration and below the upstream, braided reach to extract the excess bedload sediment before it enters the restored reach

A sediment vortex tube below placed at the start of the restoration and below the upstream, braided reach to extract the excess bedload sediment before it enters the restored reach.

Blanco River following restoration showing meandering channel and constructed floodplain
Blanco River prior to restoration showing overwide, braided reach

BEFORE RESTORATION: Blanco River prior to restoration showing overwide, braided reach.

AFTER RESTORATION: Blanco River following restoration showing meandering channel and constructed floodplain.

Blanco River in 2017 showing retention of the restored meandering channel
Blanco River in 1986 prior to restoration showing overwide, braided reach

BEFORE RESTORATION: Blanco River in 1986 prior to restoration showing overwide, braided reach.

AFTER RESTORATION: Blanco River in 2017 showing retention of the restored meandering channel.

Blanco River in 2017 showing retention of the restored 60 ft wide, single-thread stream with a well-vegetation floodplain
Blanco River in 1986 prior to restoration showing 600 foot wide braided reach

BEFORE RESTORATION: Blanco River in 1986 prior to restoration showing 600 foot wide braided reach.

AFTER RESTORATION: Blanco River in 2017 showing retention of the restored 60 ft wide, single-thread stream with a well-vegetation floodplain.

Maggie Creek, Nevada, 1991

Implemented a five mile Priority 1 restoration, also known as “Plug and Pond”, that reconstructed a meandering C4 stream type back onto the abandoned floodplain surface after being incised 20–30 feet due to straightening with a flood levee berm by a government agency in 1987.

Maggie Creek in 2014, 23 years after construction depicting an E stream type, reconnection to the floodplain, and excellent reestablishment of the riparian community

Maggie Creek in 2014, 23 years after construction depicting an E stream type, reconnection to the floodplain, and excellent reestablishment of the riparian community.

Maggie Creek prior to restoration showing an entrenched gully from channel straightening

Maggie Creek prior to restoration showing an entrenched gully from channel straightening.

Maggie Creek prior to restoration showing channel enlargement of the entrenched channel created by river straightening

Maggie Creek prior to restoration showing channel enlargement of the entrenched channel created by river straightening.

Filling in the gully during restoration in 1991

Filling in the gully during restoration in 1991.

Maggie Creek in 2014, 23 years following restoration, showing wetlands and excellent riparian rebound (photo courtesy of Barry Southerland)

Maggie Creek in 2014, 23 years following restoration, showing wetlands and excellent riparian rebound (photo courtesy of Barry Southerland).

Maggie Creek in 2014, 23 years following restoration, showing wetlands and excellent riparian rebound (photo courtesy of Barry Southerland)

Maggie Creek in 2014, 23 years following restoration, showing wetlands and excellent riparian rebound (photo courtesy of Barry Southerland).

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