Caltrans goes above and beyond bypass mitigation requirements in the Little Lake Valley

A logjam along Outlet Creek mixed with accumulated trash.

A logjam along Outlet Creek mixed with accumulated trash.

Last fall (2013), Caltrans Maintenance crews and Environmental staff, working with California Department of Fish and Wildlife staff, removed log jams in two areas along Outlet Creek to the north of the Willits Bypass Project area. The logjams totaled about 400’ in length, and the cleanup required hundreds of cubic yards of logs, brush, and trash to be removed from the streambed. The logs and other woody debris were then ground up into mulch by a large grinder brought onsite to be used for the bypass project. It is likely these logjams had prevented fish from reaching spawning grounds within the Little Lake Valley for years.

A logjam forming a dam along Outlet Creek.

A logjam forming a dam along Outlet Creek.

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Willits Bypass trees helping fish and local groups

Trees to be placed in streams to improve fish habitat.

Trees to be placed in streams to improve fish habitat.

Many of the trees removed to construct the Willits Bypass Project have been or will be used to help the local community. Trees will be placed in local streams and creeks to improve fish habitat, reduce erosion, and promote the formation of gravel bars. Caltrans Senior Resource Biologist Chris Collison said, “When the root-wads of these trees are properly placed in creeks they will help to enhance fish habitat and reduce future steambank erosion.” Continue reading

The bypass will improve fisheries

The creeks in the Little Lake Valley are part of the headwaters of the Eel River.  They will not only be preserved by a detailed plan to minimize impacts during construction; the mitigation being funded due to this project will greatly increase the overall quality of fisheries habitat in this area.willits_valley

Culverts on Haehl and Upp Creeks are being removed and two culverts on Ryan Creek will be replaced with natural bottom culverts.  Removal of the culverts at Haehl and Upp Creeks will open the headwater sections of those creeks to spawning fish.  Installing natural bottom culverts on Ryan Creek will allow summering juvenile Southern Oregon-Northern California Coasts Coho salmon, a species designated as threatened, to seek summer rearing habitat and greatly increase the species long-term survival outlook.

Along all creeks within the mitigation properties, invasive non-native plants will be removed and replaced with native plants.  Fencing will also be installed along all of the creeks within the mitigation properties keeping cattle out of the creeks and riparian zones, increasing water quality and fisheries habitat.