Gold Creek Aquatic Habitat Restoration Project
Located just east of Snoqualmie Pass, Gold Creek is a head waters tributary to the upper Yakima River that originates in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness and then flows into Lake Keechelus near Snoqualmie Pass in northern Kittitas County. A small population of federally threatened bull trout became geographically isolated after completion of the Lake Keechelus Dam in 1917 and is designated as a high priority action population in the Yakima Bull Trout Action Plan. The Gold Creek watershed has experienced major human disturbances including logging, mining, water storage impoundments, and residential, road and railway development. These historic disturbances have altered natural processes and hydrologic conditions, resulting in degraded habitat and seasonal dewatering of the creek. The cumulative impacts have resulted in an over-widened creek channel that lacks the instream complexity of large wood, deep pools, and spawning gravels that bull trout need to survive and thrive.
KCT has completed a detailed assessment of aquatic conditions in Gold Creek and is designing restoration strategies to restore critical functions to the creek. Actions could include narrowing and stabilizing stream banks, restoring adjacent floodplains, increasing stream flow complexity and large wood structures, encouraging regeneration of riparian forests, increasing the number of deep pools with cover, and decreasing the duration and extent of seasonal dewatering.
Due to the proximity of Gold Creek to recreational cabins, KCT is partnering with local landowners to include their concerns, ideas, and thoughts into this restoration project. These landowners have first-hand observations and experiences to bring into the process, providing valuable insight that can help not only design a better restoration project, but actions that can simultaneously help address things like flooding concerns that these landowners have directly encountered.