Friday, January 30, 2015
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 [email protected]

Comments

comments

  • Recent Posts

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

  • .

    News

    Town hall focuses on Coordinated Care Initiative

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1

     
    Parents will get tools to help their children thrive in school

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Great Chefs Program will feature Mulvaney

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

    Free tax preparation service begins Monday

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Walkers head out three times weekly

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3Comments are off for this post

    No bare bottoms, thanks to CommuniCare’s Diaper Drive

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

     
    Vote for your favorites in Readers’ Choice poll

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Still time to purchase tickets for DHS Cabaret

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Storyteller relies on nature as his subject on Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    All voices welcome at sing-along Wednesday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    February science fun set at Explorit

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A6 | Gallery

    Take a photo tour of Cuba at Flyway Nights talk

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6 | Gallery

     
    .

    Forum

    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

     
    A ‘new deal’ for the WPA building

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

     
    Protect root zone to save trees

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Weigh quality of life, density

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    Olive expert joins St. James event

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    We’re grateful for bingo proceeds

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    .

    Sports

    UCD has another tough football schedule in 2015

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

     
    Gould’s influence felt mightily in recent Super Bowls

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

    Mustangs hold off UCD women

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    UCD men set new school D-I era win record

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Sharks double up Ducks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

     
    Sports briefs: Watney, Woods start slow at TPC Scottsdale

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

    Recall that first Aggie TV game, national title?

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B8 | Gallery

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    ‘Artist’s Connection’ launches on DCTV

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

     
    ‘Song of the Sea’ is an enchanting fable

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery

     
    Gross’ paintings highlight a slice of Northern California

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A12 | Gallery

    February show at YoloArts’ Gallery 625 is ‘Food for Thought’

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A12 | Gallery

     
    .

    Business

    .

    Obituaries

    .

    Comics

    Comics: Friday, January 30, 2015

    By Creator | From Page: A9