Intro to Birch Creek
The WATS 5350 Spring 2020 class focused on Birch Creek, Idaho in southeast Idaho. Birch Creek is a left-bank tributary to Mink Creek, which is tributary to the Bear River just downstream of Oneida Narrows. The project is on landowner and rancher Jay Wilde’s deeded ground.
Jay is excited to see if the success of beaver reintroduction facilitated by low-tech BDAs on Birch Creek on USFS land upstream of his ranch can be extended downstream on to his own property. The goals of this project are to improve riverscape health and restore perennial flow.
For more information on Birch Creek
Part 1 - Why we can even work in Birch Creek
For WATS 5350, this video sets the stage for Birch Creek, the previous project with Jay Wilde upstream on USFS land, the motivation for that project, the results of that project and why there is trust to move down off the Forest and on to Jay’s private, deeded property and continue with the project you will be planning, designing (and should be building if not for COVID-19, but can come and build in the summer if you want).
Jay Wilde’s Story: Reintroducing beaver to bring back perennial flow
We have had the privilege of working with Idaho Rancher Jay Wilde since 2014. For a more elaborate version of what I explain in the 45 minute above, its best to hear directly from Jay what happened and why he’s willing to let you go “mess up” and improve the health of his creek. Jay tells his story about bringing beaver back to the creek he grew up on to restore flow. Jay went on the road in the summer of 2018 with us and helped spread this message to workshop participants in five SGI Low-Tech Process Based Restoration of Mesic & Riparian Workshops. This video below is from the Logan Workshop:
- A Rancher’s Story: Reintroducing beaver to bring back perennial flow (Wilde et al. 2019)
If you’d like to hear part of the story on the ground (in a virtual field trip), check out this virtual field trip with Jay Wilde.
Story Told by Others
This story has appeared in multiple media outlets. Here are a few of the recent ones:
Beef Magazine: Beaver power provides year-long water to Idaho ranch
That’s right, Beef Magazine! This article by Briana Randall titled “Beaver power provides year-long water to Idaho ranch: Beavers? You read that right. Here’s how four-legged engineers helped restore an Idaho ranch.” explains to other cattlemen why Jay wants what many view as a nuisance on his ranch.
National Wildlife Federation Magazine
In this article titled ““Nature’s Ecosystem Engineers Beaver dams create climate-smart wetlands that benefit wildlife and people”, Catherine Arnold highlights Jay’s story on Birch Creek.
This talk is elaborated in Ben Goldfarb’s new award winning book: Eager - The Surprising Secret Life of Beaver and Why they Matter.
View excerpts for free here
USU Today - The Aftermath of Us
The main focus of this article is on research Brendan Murphy and Patrick Belmont are doing on fire in the American west, but Jay’s story is featured in the end of the article.
Part 2 - Birch Creek Project Objectives & Conservation Planning Process
This outlines the project reach, walks you through a fly through of the reach, lays out the restoration goals and objectives, and reminds you of the low-tech PBR conservation planning process you will follow to get the project done.
The video is about 35 minutes. Please post any questions you have to the planning discussion board in Canvas.
Resources for 2020 Students
At the end of the semester, we’ll put your design reports up here.