Honolulu Bar Floodplain Restoration Project
By Trevor Meadows, Restoration Biologist and Julie Rentner, Central Valley Regional Director
River Partners planted the Honolulu Bar Floodplain Restoration Project along the lower Stanislaus River following grading activities in fall 2012 and the site is already showing wildlife response and resilience to fluctuating river flows!
In March 2013, the newly graded floodplain at Honolulu Bar supported spawning salmon – several redds (spawning nests) were identified by project biologists in gravels that had been placed there just months earlier. River Partners planted and is maintaining hundreds of native trees and shrubs around the edges of the gravelly floodplain to provide shade, allocthanous inputs, and to minimize weed dominance in the riparian zone. Project partners for this exciting restoration include the US Army Corps of Engineers, Stanislaus River Parks, US Fish and Wildlife Service Anadromous Fish Restoration Program, Oakdale Irrigation District, FishBio, and the San Joaquin Regional Conservation Corps.
In April and May of 2013, flows in the Stanislaus River were increased to 3,000cfs for a period of several weeks to investigate the effect of high flows on the river ecosystem and to encourage salmonid outmigration. The water was released by Oakdale Irrigation District and South San Joaquin Irrigation District as part of ongoing work to ensure the river’s flow regime is beneficial for salmon and steelhead fisheries. The Stanislaus is a snowmelt watershed that, prior to the development of storage reservoirs in the foothills, would reach peak flows in the springtime due to warming springtime temperatures. Today, dam releases are largely related to irrigation demands and flood control, which means that large (3,000-cfs) springtime pulse flows are rare.
During the large flows of April and May 2013, some plants were completely inundated for ten days. River Partners biologists have monitored performance following this high flow event, and found that the species inundated during the large flow event are thriving.
You can check out the project website at: http://fishbio.com/projects/conservation-projects/honolulu-bar-restoration-and-floodplain-enhancement.
The above article originally appeared in the June 2013 issue of the River Partners Journal.