Last spring in between jobs, I had a little bit of time for an adventure.
In a spur of the moment attempt to enjoy an early spring, my wife and I decided to drive to southern Utah.
It was a great trip…
I’d like to share this old report I’ve had for a long time.
It was one of the ones that I first read in my distaste for all the stream channelization that was occurring in southern Alberta after the 1995 flood. There are quite a few articles about the topic now, many of them excellent with brilliant conclusions and great citations; this one provides a great summary and explanation.
In reading the work, one feels that it was written by an old scholarly Englishman. Take it home and read it while sitting in a heavy leather chair, in a room with dark wood bookshelves and a crackling fireplace. You should pause your reading to punctuate a point with a puff on your pipe or a sip of the 15yr old Scotch at your side. It is rare to find a “literary” feeling in a short scientific piece of work.
He clearly identifies concerns that plague stream managers today.
“In streams with self-formed alluvial channels, the channel width and depth are naturally adjusted to a wide range of frequently occurring discharges. Deepening or widening the channel through dredging to satisfy only one set of discharges upsets the equilibrium and may cause the channel alternately to widen itself through bank erosion during frequent high discharges and to deposit in the channel during low flow. Furthermore, unless maintained by constant channel work, uniform trapezoidal channels seldom persist for long. This conclusion is borne out both empirically and experimentally.
Clearly, there is reason to be concerned about the hydraulic effects of channelization. Streams are more than just hydraulic systems, however. They are biological systems as well, with aquatic and terrestrial components. Because of complexity (born partly of diversity), and because of the lack of research, fluvial ecosystems are not especially well understood. Nevertheless, enough is known about bank and stream habitats and the habitat requirements of game, fish, birds, and small mammals to document the major biological effects of channelization.
The major hydraulic changes brought about in channelized streams vary with discharge. During low flow channelized streams tend to be wider and shallower and have decreased velocity than before channelization. During high flow these same streams are usually deeper and faster than for the same prechannelization discharge. The biological impact of these and other hydraulic changes varies. Maximum velocities may exceed those that can be tolerated by fish, and with the absence of protective cover they may be eliminated. Many fish require both pool and riffle habitat, and such variety is seldom found in wide, shallow channelized streams. Even water temperature may be affected significantly by the removal of vegetation that formerly provided shade as well as cover. Other biological impacts may include changes in nutrient levels, food chain relationships, and reproductive cycles.”
He also came up with a few guidelines that still haven’t been adopted- despite the “obviousness” of them being noted nearly 40 years ago.
- “Thus the first guideline for alluvial channel improvements ought to be:
- Straighten the channel and increase the slope as little as possible.”
- “The second design principle might be stated as follows:
- Promote bank stability by leaving as many trees as possible, minimizing channel reshaping, early seeding of grass in disturbed areas, and judicious placement of riprap.”
- “The third guideline for channel renovation can bestated simply:
- Emulate nature in designing channel form.”
And finally, his concluding sentence should resonate with those involved in this past years flood works:
“By combining stream restoration with floodplain management and sediment control, we hope to be able to allevaite flooding problems while protecting and enhancing stream environments.”
If only they had applied these guidelines when “protecting” Blairmore from floods in the 1920s…
The saying “Live and learn” doesn’t seem to apply when it comes to mitigating flooding in Alberta.
I’ve added a quick update to the Archive of my ramblings on Sexyloops.com.
The list is now only two and a half years behind…
You can find it here: Sexyloops Archive
A list of my Pic of Day archive in Sexyloops is here.
Once, during a beautiful, end-of-season fishing trip, I made a last cast tight to the bank and snagged my fly. As I was done anyways, I waded across the river to get my fly back, and lo and behold, I had snagged the horn.
Beautiful day, beautiful river, and a connection to a past long forgotten!
Once I shut down a rail line to take a walk around a lake to a spring with a former employee of Smithsonian. It snowed and it was great!
There was nice weather to start! Can you see the Bighorn Sheep Ram?
The dark clouds billowing over the mountains were an impressive sight!
As we rounded the corner the wind picked up. The blinding ice pellets made walking the uneven path dangerous.
Our destination, a massive spring that feeds the lake, the river, and society downstream. This water will eventually flow to the Hudson’s Bay, over dam, through feedlot, and under bridge.
I bet the flows here rival the flows coming from the Roe River, making this the shortest river in the world… if not, it’s gotta be close!
Centuries of flows through this glacial valley have resulted in a massive deposit of alluvial material, creating an interesting delta. This formation is ancient and ever changing- a local wonder!
Just something I did seven and a half years ago…
I hate to bitch about something without offering a solution.
But I really do like to bitch.
Here are some things I think this government should be doing!
- Know what is where.
- If there is only one creek that has spawning areas and that creek gets damaged or blocked, then the fish that spawn there are fucked.
- Following a precautionary principle here means that the goal of the resource managers should be to maintain / repair / reconnect as much access to habitat as possible. A brilliant idea would be to look at streams that used to be habitat (now cut off by bad culverts) and look at habitat in other similar streams and assess why there aren’t fish.
- Resource information should be collected and digitized and made available to the public. Knowledge is power. There is tons of “lost” past info (habitat quality surveys for stocking from the 30’s-70’s and other gov’t research), tons from fish and habitat work for industrial applications, and tons of current unrecorded work.
- Fix the current crossings.
- They could start by looking for poor crossings (culverts are the bane of my existence) and low water/temporary barriers (cascades, falls, chutes, jams, beaver dams, etc.). Then remove said barriers or look for other suitability issues (gradient, substrates, flow, etc).
- Really quite simple and should be common sense- Remember the saying- don’t put all you eggs in one basket – It applies to trout too!
- This brings up pure westslope cutthroat concerns- if you isolate a stream with their population, you run a high risk of extirpation due to environmental disaster. Do you block upstream migrations of rainbows at the expense of bull trout populations?
- And beaver dams are GOOD. They provide overwintering and rearing areas, provide stream gradient controls, allow stream veg to access the water, raise the water table, and increase sunlight penetration into food producing aquatic areas. Don’t blow them!
- Fix the existing roads and ditches.
- The current dirt roads and bad ditches are collecting runoff and dumping it and sediment into watercourses at concentrated areas- causing bank erosion and sediment deposition instream.
- Some roads need to be moved away from watercourses or closed, others need some serious ditch work, and most need some erosion controls designed into slope areas and at crossings.
- Limit motorized traffic to designated trails- and Maintain those trails.
- There is space for all uses, but not at the expense of the environment or other users.
- Trails should be away from watercourses and should have proper crossings- clean rock fords with erosion controls in ditch lines or proper bridges- there are no other suitable types of crossings.
- There should be “quiet” zones- areas where access is only allowed by foot. This quiet space is critical for society- some people go bat-shit crazy without it
- If tearing shit up and mudbogging is a goal- there are old gravel pits and muddy feedlots on private land that are more than suitable. Little dicked kids with big tires wreak it for the rest of us that enjoy a challenging drive with a clean river full of fish at the end. Plus if you have some smoky mud-flinging rust bucket heep, you don’t need the scenery, you are just as fine mudding in downtown Calgary as the mountains.
- Regulate random camping- no camping within 50m of a watercourse and 100m from a main road. And only in designated areas. And no skeet shooting over the rivers (lead shot). And no, and no, and no…
- Crown land is for all Canadians, but there need to be rules because there are way too many damn people.
- Anglers and hunters pay, so should campers (even a $100 a year registration fee would encourage folks to use the under-utilized provincial campgrounds). Plus if they can afford a $90,000 second home with wheels, generator, microwave and damn satellite dish, they can afford to pay for a camping spot.
- The campers leave way too much garbage that ends up in the rivers and they do dump their waste tanks in the bush and into the rivers (I have seen this on a number of occasions).
- Money from random camping could go back to rehabilitating damaged sites and restoring streams- tasks that should fall more on the users than all taxpayers.
- All the camping spots and assess roads should be fixed to prevent rutting and erosion which leads to sedimentation.
- Regulate the angling guiding industry.
- Guides are on the rivers all the time (from Alberta, BC, and the US). They should know the rules and regulations, know the fish (they don’t), and be able to report issues to resource managers- open the lines of communication!
- Guides contribute to folks catching fish- and there are fish mortalities from angling. Mortalities can be reduced by having educated guides that know the proper way to handle the fish we have on our East Slopes.
- Guides make money (not much) off the public resource and run businesses on crown land. They should be registered and the gov’t should ensure they have proper insurance.
- By knowing that guides work on crown land, and by allowing them to work without permits, is the Alberta Government is assuming the liability for injuries, environmental damage, or anything else that could go wrong?
- Educate anglers.
- I’m tired of being told that suckers are bad and that we need to kill more bull trout because they are eating the rainbows… suckers are a critical part of an ecosystem and if they have high populations it is either right or WE have fucked it up. Plus, stocked trout don’t spawn in lakes, so suckers aren’t eating their eggs- in fact, trout are eating sucker eggs and young suckers! Bull trout will eat the proper amount of suckers, whitefish, and other trout and will balance the ecosystem- that is what top level predators do.
- Current anglers are miss identifying fish. Fact. I hate how often I talk to somebody and they have no clue what species they just bonked or released.
- Change the angling license structure.
- Ignorance sucks. This government is ignorant about how many anglers actually fish- how can we know if we don’t require many anglers to even have licenses. there are many anglers over 65 in this province. Many fish a lot. Many keep a lot of fish. How do I know this? Well, my guess is as good as the uninformed government’s, but I’d imagine if I was retired (more time) I’d fish more. And if finances were tighter, I’d keep more fish to eat.
- We don’t have to charge a lot, but seniors should have to have licenses for information sake.
- Add a fee for anglers wanting to keep fish from naturally reproducing populations. Rivers can’t handle harvest as much as stocked lakes, so why shouldn’t folks pay more to keep fish. Currently all licenses subsidize all stocking.
Wow… I did just wanna bitch about Hidden creek, but it looks like I’m starting a grocery list of items that need to go up to an ESRD minister…
Maybe I should be running the department… or better yet, the world!