Simpson Creek Watershed Improvement Project

We are excited to share the progress for the Simpson Creek project on Rose’s Creek Rd (also referred to as Table Rock Rd). What was once a small, elevated culvert is now a large aquatic organism passage big enough to drive a car through! This project provides native species with a way to move up and down stream while maintaining the natural stream channel and accommodating large flow events. The project also restored the riparian area above the road, which included bank reconstruction and planting native vegetation.

Simpson Creek Aquatic Organism Passage

Simpson Creek Aquatic Organism Passage

Planning for the Simpson Creek Watershed Improvement Project started in 2013. This CFLR project is part of a larger effort to improve watershed health on the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests. In addition to the new passage and restored riparian area, road drainage in the area was improved with 7 new and 3 improved drainage relief pipes. Log vanes were installed in the stream channel to provide structure. The final phase of the project will improve a tributary to Simpson Creek by stabilizing the headcut, an erosion-caused feature where the bank drops off sharply causing sedimentation in high-flow events.

Detail of location and culvert before the project

Detail of location and culvert before the project

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Fiscal Year 2015 Accomplishments

Its hard to believe its almost 2016! For those of us in the federal government, it is already fiscal year 2016 – the new fiscal year (FY) began on October 1st. This time of year is when we work on reporting all the great work we have done over the past FY and plan for the new FY. FY2015 was a great year for the Grandfather Restoration Project! We were able to exceed our targets in almost every area. The accomplishments below are in addition to the great work our partners and volunteers completed across the district.

Habitat Restoration: 1 acre of lake habitat restored, 5,780 acres of terrestrial habitat enhanced

Boone Fork pond restorationLake habitat was restored at Boone Fork Pond, controlling erosion and adding fish habitat structures.

Terrestrial habitat was restored through a variety of management, including maintenance of wildlife openings, mechanical restoration of the Lost Cove orchard, prescribed fire, timber stand improvement, and shortleaf pine restoration harvest activities.

Invasive Species Treatments: 306 acres of nonnative invasive plant treatments, 45 acres of hemlock wooly adelgid treatments

IMG_5450Invasive species were treated with herbicide in the Catawba River Floodplain, along Wilson Creek, along Back Irish Creek Rd, and outside the Wilderness around Table Rock. Paulownia was hand pulled inside the Wilderness in partnership with WildSouth.

Hemlock wooly adelgid treatments were continued for Carolina and eastern hemlock across the district. 22 acres were treated for the first time along the Catawba Falls trail.

 

Watershed Restoration: 1 aquatic organism passage installed, 10.5 miles of non-system roads decommissioned

20150413_164819 (3)A large aquatic organism passage was installed along Simpson Creek, allowing for safe fish passage and maintenance of the natural stream channel.

Law enforcement identified 10.5 miles of non-system roads and multiple trails that were decommissioned by placing boulders at entry points, reducing erosion into sensitive watersheds.

Trail Restoration: 1.3 miles of trails improved, 60 miles of trails maintained

IMG_3443The China Creek trail near Blowing Rock was relocated to follow a historical route.

Through USFS labor and contracts 60 miles of trails were maintained. This work included 15+ miles of work completed by SAWS in Linville Gorge. This is in addition to the great work the volunteer trail community is doing across the Grandfather Ranger District.

Prescribed Fire: 7,497 acres of fuels treated

IMG_1489Prescribed burns were conducted at the Lake James unit, the Woodruff Ridge unit, the Wilson Creek unit, and the Rockhouse unit.

Site preparation burns were conducted as part of the Roses Creek timber sale.

The Blue Gravel Fire, the Bald Knob Fire, and the Wolf Creek Fire were managed through a “confine and contain” strategy.

Timber and Silviculture: 151 acres of forest vegetation established, 737 acres of forest vegetation improved, 1,205 CCF of timber harvested

Newly-planted 2yr shortleaf pine seedling at Miller Mountain

Through the Roses Creek project, over 150 acres of shortleaf pine forest was established following the harvest of the remaining stands of timber.

Timber harvest and vegetation improvement focused on removing white pine, tulip poplar and red maple and retaining oaks and yellow pines.

 

Monitoring: 2 new monitoring contracts

The Grandfather Ranger District entered into 2 multi-year contracts: one with Western Carolina University to monitor prescribed fire effects on vegetation, and one with MountainTrue to monitor invasive species occurrence and treatment