2020 - Birch Creek


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).

Lecture Slides

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:

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.

Go on the Virtual
LTPBR Birch Creek Field Trip

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.

Eager

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.

Lecture Slides


Resources for 2020 Students

Conservation Planning Resources for Birch Creek

Student Outputs

At the end of the semester, we’ll put your design reports up here.

Project Reports