blackwood-creek-restoration-creek-photo

Lower Blackwood Creek Restoration

  • Sediment-Plume-Blackwood-Creek
    Sediment plume at Blackwood Creek entering the Lake
  • Blackwood-Restoration-Detail-Photo
    Blackwood Creek following bank improvement and restoration (May 2013)
  • blackwood-creek-construction-detail-photo
    Blackwood Creek channel bank prior to restoration improvements (Aug 2012)

Project Details

Lower Blackwood Creek Restoration

The Blackwood Watershed contributed over 1900 tons of sediment per year, and more than 21.5 tons of fine sediment per square kilometer per year: more fine sediment per unit of area than any other watershed in the Tahoe Basin. The Lower Blackwood Creek Restoration was the final piece of a comprehensive interagency restoration of the watershed.

Blackwood Creek is also an important fishery; historically it supported Lahontan Cutthroat Trout and other native species and was second only to the Upper Truckee River in its importance as a fishery to the Washoe. Today Blackwood supports a higher proportion of Rainbow Trout than other streams in the Basin, making it a critical spawning area for Rainbow Trout living in Lake Tahoe.

Restoration Opportunities

Blackwood Creek has been severely degraded by over a century of disturbance. The area was heavily grazed and logged into the 1970s. The associated loss of vegetation and network of logging roads caused heavy erosion throughout the watershed. The creek which would have migrated north to south over time was confined to the edge of the floodplain and much of the floodplain was developed. An in-channel gravel mining operation significantly altered the channel and increased sediment delivery to the Lake.

Approach

The Lower Blackwood Creek Restoration built upon restoration projects that the U.S. Forest Service completed along the creek. The project re-established a stable channel and created small floodplain areas to provide riparian habitat and allow sediment deposition. Installation of a variety of structures made of natural materials will both stabilize eroding banks and provide habitat for fish and wildlife. Other project elements included enhancing aspen stands and re-routing eroding trails to the adjacent Eagle Rock.

Next Steps

Creek channel improvements were completed in 2012 with monitoring and adaptive management ongoing.