McDonald Creek Restoration Project

McDonald Creek projectMcDonald Creek Background: The Chehalis Basin Fisheries Task Force and the Grays Harbor Stream Team have selected McDonald Creek, a tributary of the Chehalis River, for fish passage improvement.

In the spring of 2010 the Figlar-Barnes family from Elma attended a Grays Harbor Stream Team meeting to ask their support in helping with a McDonald Creek Restoration project. Jarred Figlar-Barnes, then a freshman at Elma High School, is the mastermind behind the project and has done much of pre-planning and assessment work getting the project ready for grant applications.

McDonald Creek is located in Elma, Washington.  A watershed assessment for the area identifies failing culverts and aquatic habitat modifications as limiting salmonid species.  In order for salmonid population recovery the creek needs several improvements. The project has been divided into three phases. 
Jarred Figlar-Barnes
PowerPoint Presentation:  View the PowerPoint created by project manager, Jarred Figlar Barnes:
 PowerPoint Presentation - Jarred Figlar Barnes
Phase 1 is in a low gradient area dominated by farm fields and livestock grazing.  Three culverts and a small concrete blockage are associated with the restoration activities of this phase.
Phase 2 involves working with a hospital district and a local landowner who is building a large church.  Both of projects have funding set aside to restore McDonald creek as it runs through their property. 
Phase 3 is associated with the mid and upper watershed and consists of working with various landowner enhancing culverts and smaller riparian areas. 

Phase 1 Projects

Project 1 Project 1: Install a 40' riparian zone along the creek from the lower bridge to Marion Road box culvert using native trees, shrubs, and fencing.  Also put meanders in the stream and develop small ponds for drinking water for livestock.

This will improve water quality of McDonald Creek by preventing cow access and restore shade and gradient for salmonid migration and outmigrations.

Project 2 Project 2: Remove shotgun culvert beneath field access road and replace it with a 40' long bridge. This will greatly improve flood flow and improve fish passage.

Funding:  This project was funded by the Salmon Recovery Funding Board in 2011 and will be completed in 2012.

Project 3Project 3: Remove a small concrete dam below Marion roads concrete box culvert, which during low flows impedes adult and juvenile salmon passage to improve fish passage.

Completed:  Small concrete barrier has been removed; stream was re-graded with added gravels; and riparian barrier was planted.

Funding:  This project was funded by a $10,500 grant from Ecology.

Project 4
Project 4: WDOT crew’s will clear vegetation from HWY 12’s box culvert, to improve fish passage and flood flow. Project Outcome; improve passage.

Project 5Project 5: Put in a small 10' to 20' riparian zone at farm field above HWY 12 along a 660' section of the creek. Plant native trees and shrubs, to shade McDonald Creek and improve the water quality of stream by preventing cow access. Meander creek if needed. Small ponds will be dug for drinking water for livestock.  This will improve the water quality of McDonald Creek by preventing cow access and restore shade and gradient for salmonid migration and out-migrations.

Project 6: Remove old undersized steel culvert under East Waldrip Street. Replace with either a larger box culvert or a small bridge.
Undersized Steel CulvertBridge depiction by Jarred

Salmon have been observed in the system in the past but recently no adult salmon have been observed. McDonald Creek is a very important low gradient, off-channel refuge for fish during winter flooding and a location for fish to spawn during the spring and fall.

Spawning gravel is available from the McDonald watershed to replenish the historic spawning beds and should contribute to the recovery of the fish populations in the area.

Landowners adjacent to the culvert replacement site are collaborators on the project. In addition, Elma Middle and High School students will be involved in the project through riparian tree plantings, garbage clean-ups, water quality monitoring, and other hands-on activities.

The Grays Harbor Stream Team has sponsored two McDonald Creek site visits in fall 2010 to invite landowners and other interested community members to come out and learn about some of the potential projects. In December 2010, the Stream Team held a community meeting, where interested landowners gathered to express concern and learn more about the project.

This multi-partner project will demonstrate to other private landowners the benefits their stewardship can have for the restoration of salmonid resources.