Canyon Creek Trout: doing great thanks to stream habitat enhancements.
The Canyon Creek Habitat Enhancement Project was sponsored by the Arizona Game and Fish Department and implemented by various contractors with the goal of improving habitat quality for aquatic life in the reach of Canyon Creek below OW Ranch Bridge, downstream of Canyon Creek Fish Hatchery. This heavily utilized reach of stream has been severely impacted by flooding and high sedimentation rates following the Rodeo – Chediski Fire. The original habitat assessment and design plan were accomplished in June 2008 by Natural Channel Design, Inc. The intent of the plan was to provide improved fish habitat and stream stability, while recognizing that the stream will continue to slowly recover from post fire flooding.
The project was completed in two phases. The first phase (completed in 2015) enhanced and improved aquatic habitat within a six kilometer section of Canyon Creek from the OW Bridge downstream to the White Mountain Apache Reservation boundary. This action was necessary due to the negative instream habitat changes resulting from the Rodeo-Chediski fire (2002). Severe flooding has contributed to unstable stream banks, continued erosion, poor spawning substrate and decreased pooling habitat within the creek. The first stage took place in the upstream, 7,500 foot portion of the project area and consisted of 42 sites and 87 individual structures. The use of local, naturally occurring materials was utilized to reduce the cost of enhancements. Enhancements that are integral to the bank are held in place by traditional cable and anchor systems to minimize movement and maximize bank protection. In areas without machine access, structures were installed by hand crews, which limited the size and types of materials used. Areas disturbed during construction were reseeded by hand with a mixture of native grass seeds common to the local area.
In Phase 2 (completed in 2016), over 4,000 feet of creek was enhanced including fifty-one (51) site specific treatments. These were implemented within a 6 kilometer section of the creek from the OW Bridge down
stream to the White Mountain Apache Reservation boundary. These site specific structures were
all within the active channel of the creek. The trout and native species in the creek have responded very well.