Thursday, July 24, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Mother Nature gets some help on Putah Creek channel

Putah Creek streamkeeper Rich Marovich points toward the narrower, colder, swiftly flowing creek that is the result of a $400,000 reconstruction project to enhance access and improve fish habitat. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo

By
From page A1 | December 22, 2011 |

WINTERS — Choked by brambles and filled with silt, Putah Creek was more dead than alive as it eased its way past the Winters pedestrian bridge.

The creek — more the size of a river — carried more water than it was meant to carry, due to man-made dams and gravel mining. At the end of summer, it was more than 60 feet wide and 8 to 12 feet deep. The slow-moving vast waterway held in heat, which was not conductive to native fish, which thrive in faster-moving cool water.

Now, less than three months later, Putah Creek is not only the right size but it is also a healthy, cool and fast-moving body of water.

“I’m really excited,” said Libby Earthman, the executive director of the nonprofit Putah Creek Council. “Now, it can act like a creek. Before, it acted like a really big pool.”

Rich Marovich, the streamkeeper for the Lower Putah Creek Coordinating Committee, added: “It’s really what we hoped for, but it’s another thing to see it after it settles in for a couple of winters.

“Right now, it’s a bit too uniform. Creeks are self-forming, we’ve reinforced some areas of the creek, but we’ve minimized where so it can scour its own path.”

For the past three months, Marovich and Earthman have overseen professionals operating heavy machinery and local volunteers wielding small hand tools as they transformed the once overgrown banks into an inviting greenbelt area.

Gone are the invasive non-native plants, gone is the Perc Dam and gone are the dangerous routes to the water’s edge. Instead, there is an easy-access path next to the pedestrian bridge on the Yolo County side; the Solano County side has a “rabbit” trail. There also are 630 freshly planted native saplings and new swimming holes to be discovered.

Under the bridges, Putah Creek looks like a shadow of its former self. Running now at about 15 feet wide, the creek meanders through the freshly graded river bottom. A proper flood-plain area has been added, for those years when winter storms and runoffs are bigger than normal.

“Putah Creek flows don’t vary a lot,” Marovich said. “But there is also the potential for high flows when the Glory Hole at (Lake) Berryessa spills. This flood plain gives the creek the capacity to handle high flows.”

The area near and around the Perc Dam shows a great deal of change. Just how much has the water level dropped? A rope swing, which before the channel corrections probably would have been inches from the water, is about 20 yards from Putah Creek.

“All this before was just straight,” said Marovich, who wrote much of the grant that gave $400,000 to the project. “I didn’t have a flow. That’s important because of the native fish.”

There were three goals for the realignment project, and Earthman said they met them.

“We wanted to increase dissolved oxygen (which is how fish breathe), reduce the temperature and increase the riparian area,” she said. “It’s important to know that this project was never intended to roll back the clock.

“The creek had been manipulated for a long time. Now, with conditions and the way the land is used and the water flows, we can maximize the benefits to humans and wildlife.”

While the channel was being diverted, Earthman and Marovich helped with a project to rescue fish. They were excited to find trout, which are typically found upstream but rarely in the Winters area because of the warmer waters.

They also found lamprey, which were rumored to be in the river but hadn’t been seen. During the rescue, Earthman said they spotted hundreds.

“It was very exciting,” she said.

She has also seen more people in the area, including a couple who were picking up trash.

“We’ve engaged the community a lot,” Earthman said. “It’s a big deal to have this in your back yard.”

— Reach Kim Orendor at korendor@davisenterprise.net

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

     
    Ag officials predict bumper almond crop

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Teens lead the way in fight against cancer

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Victim of fatal crash identified

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

     
    Official: Air Algerie flight ‘probably crashed’

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    New-home sales plummet in June

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    CSU pumps brakes on enrollment growth

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Diplomas all around for professor and sons

    By Dave Jones | From Page: A3 | Gallery

     
    Consumption guidelines for Cache Creek fish updated

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A3

     
    Local singer/songwriter will perform Friday on KDRT

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Davis Flea hosts night market Sunday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Free technology help offered to seniors

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Contestants sought for Yolo County Fair Queen contest

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Parents can learn all about IEPs

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Museum sells market bags as fundraiser

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    City of Davis recruits for its advisory commissions

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Colleges woo Native Americans with new programs

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    Zip Book: Request it, read it, return it

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

    .

    Forum

    Battle lines are drawn

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Don’t tell me I can’t help him

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

    Water trains through Davis

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 2 Comments

     
    Water storage must be a priority

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

    Act now to support middle school students

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    .

    Sports

    UCD coach has navigated a Maze of experiences

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Lethargic and roster-thin, Post 77 loses Area 1 opener

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

    Pence outscores Phillies

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Quincy Amarikwa: years in the making

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Area sports briefs: Nelson earns All-Academic honors

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

     
    Youth roundup: Aftershock finishes second in tournament

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

    Majka makes winning look easy

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B10 | Gallery

     
    .

    Features

    Name Droppers: Transportation fellowship goes to Aggie

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8

     
    .

    Arts

     
    ‘South Pacific’ storyline still making waves

    By Bev Sykes | From Page: A7 | Gallery

    ‘The Miracle Worker’ auditions set for WOH

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    Death notice: James Thomas Feather

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A2

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Thursday, July 24, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B8