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Symposium Report Can we restore/

Ecological Opportunities for


Gravel Pit Reclamation
create/ rehabilitate
On the Russian River ecosystem function
Exploring ideas and research for
reclaiming Old Gravel Pits of RIVER WETLANDS’
adjacent to the off channel habitat for
-
Russian River.
Assessing ecological orphan salmonid
opportunities for wetlands and
fisheries. fry and parr?
Sponsored by PHASE I POND TEMPERATURES

NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries 35

Service 30

and

DEGREES CELSIUS
25

SURFACE
Syar Industries 20 10 FT DEPTH
20 FT DEPTH
15
30 FT DEPTH
40 FT DEPTH
BOTTOM
10

7/9/2008

8/6/2008

9/3/2008
5/28/2008
6/11/2008
6/25/2008

7/23/2008

8/20/2008

9/17/2008
10/1/2008
10/15/2008
10/29/2008
11/12/2008
11/26/2008
12/10/2008
PHASE I POND
DATE WATER QUALITY

50
45
40

CELSIUS/ MG/L
35
30
25
20
15
10
5
0
1 2 3 4 5 6
depth ft 0 10 20 30 40 50
degreesC 20.6 19.8 18.6 15.6 11.6 11
DO mg/l 10.91 9.8 8.69 0.09 0.05 0.18

Symposium Conclusions and


Recommendations
1) 170 years of Euro-American settlement and development
of the Russian River Watershed has resulted in the
wholesale loss and elimination of river wetlands/ off-
channel habitat.
2) Loss of this orphan fry/ parr salmonid life history stage
habitat will limit the recovery-survival potential for ESA
Physical Attributes of listed salmonids, critically for coho salmon.

Russian River ponds: 3) The gravel pits could to be modified to re-create


ecologically productive river wetlands/ off-channel
Over 800 acres; habitats;
Steep banks to depth;
4) Seasonally and longterm evolving river wetlands of
30 to 50 foot depths into the aquifer;
shallow emergent marsh and open water habitats
Significant cold groundwater inflow rates; surrounded by flooded woodlands and mature seral-
Documented River Wetlands/ Off-Channel Habitat Frequent – to infrequent main-channel river flood connections, i.e. 3 to stage redwood, fir mixed deciduous north coast forest
25 year events; are the analogous natural design templates.
attributes contributing to salmonid ecosystem High nutrient input of waste treatment facility releases;
productivity: Seasonal spring-summer temperature stratification;
5) With the configuration of the Russian River channel and
the adjacent terrace pit mines, pit capture of the river
Anoxic lower / bottom strata 10-30 ft thick; channel is not likely to occur.
• Extensive shoals and shallows (less than 4 meters deep; Seasonal ~ 10 foot surrounding groundwater level fluctuation;
Potential methane gas release events stripping 6) Predation risks to salmonid populations using river
• Complexity of morphologic features of coves, peninsulas, all strata of oxygen. wetlands/ off-channel habitat are outweighed by the
sloughs…bottom topography; i.e., complex and extensive “edge” benefit of accelerated growth rates enabling large
habitat; numbers of parr/smolt to reach threshold size for marine
Biotic Attributes of survival. Differential temperature peak activity levels of
• Areas of emergent vegetation along complex littoral edge; species and habitat preferences limit predation risks.
submerged (native) aquatic vegetation (SAV) to 4m depths; Russian River ponds:
Low to no benthic productivity; 7) Hydraulic connections between the river and pits need
to accommodate and evolve for seasonal fish entry and
• Broad multi-story riparian zone with inundation-tolerant fringe of Algal blooms, hyperoxic and hypoxic conditions / high CO2 levels likely
causing seasonal hypercapnia in fish –
egress, to be geomorphically stable, yet account for
overhanging and/or trailing vegetation, pro-grading to gallery forest; scenarios of river channel migration due to sediment
reduced ability to respire CO2 , with build up of blood transport and flood dynamics of lateral erosion/
CO2 levels resulting in lethargy, surface swimming…;
• Submerged large and small woody structure; (with all of the above meandering processes.
contributing to the “heterogeneity” of habitat) Minimal to no submerged, emergent , overhanging and/or trailing
vegetation along the littoral edge and shorelines; 8) Water temperature and dissolved oxygen (DO)
requirements are key considerations in developing
• Seasonal flooding; Minimal submerged large and small woody structure; reclamation strategies, as cold groundwater and surface
Potential for seasonal methylation of mercury under anaerobic mixing with pit waters will increase and can be enhanced
• Access to adjacent floodplain; conditions. with design of hydraulic connections, depth, bank slope ,
bottom topography; submerged and emergent vegetation,
• Return access to perennial water as floodwaters recede; Symposium Presentations and Panel Discussion by: & complex littoral edge.
Peter B. Bayley Ph.D.,
• Perennial and stable temperature inflows provided by Department of Fisheries & Wildlife, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331. 9) To avoid anoxic conditions, pits may need to be filled to a
groundwater;
depth and with a topography such that wind mixing,
Brian Cluer Ph.D., groundwater current upwelling, and mechanically driven
Fluvial Geomorphlogist, NMFS Habitat Conservation Division, Santa Rosa, CA. mixing (windmills?) or other means limit thermal
• Seasonally appropriate extended-period, or perennial connections stratification and seasonal anoxia in lower strata of the
to main channels of rivers and streams. Guillermo Giannico Ph.D.,
Department of Fisheries & Wildlife, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331.
water column.
Sean A. Hayes Ph.D., 10) Filling pits to achieve desirable topography and depth
Research Fishery Biologist, NMFS Southwest Science Center, Santa Cruz, CA. could be accomplished by pulling the isolation levees into
the pits, and by natural overbank sedimentation and filling
Matt Kondolf Ph.D., during floods, as has occurred between the 1980s and
Professor of Environmental Planning and Geography, University of California, Berkeley. 1990s in the Passalaqua Pit of the Russian River
John P. McKeon, ..downstream.
Natural Resource Management Specialist, NMFS Protected Resources Division, Santa
Rosa, CA.
Mitchell Swanson P.E., President,
Swanson Hydrology & Geomorphology, Santa Cruz, CA.