Process-Based Stream Restoration in Smith Draw
This project will restore a section of Smith Draw in northern Douglas County, Washington to improve system function, water table level, and capacity for the system to support and wet meadow habitat. Wet meadow habitat is a very important component of sage grouse habitat requirements, especially during brood rearing. Restoring hydrology and system function will also allow for the system to hold water in the soil for longer periods of time into the hot, dry summer months building resiliency to drought within the system as well as wildfire refugia. The Washington population estimate for sage grouse is 699, putting it near the threshold for the state to uplist it to endangered status.
The project area is within the Priority Conservation Area for the Douglas County population of sage grouse, which represents the majority of the state’s population with just a few birds still occurring in Lincoln County and the Yakima Training Center. Additionally, the project area is in an area of medium-high priority and very high linkage centrality for shrub-steppe species habitat as identified by the Arid Lands Initiative (ALI). Sage grouse habitat in Washington has been negatively and significantly impacted by increased fire frequency and severity. From 2016 through 2020, 1,259,938 acres of greater sage grouse habitat burned in Washington.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), Foster Creek Conservation District (FCCD), and Trout Unlimited (TU) propose to install 20-30 beaver dam analogs (BDAs) in Smith Draw on the WDFW West Foster Creek Wildlife Area to create pools/ponds, induce channel meandering, reduce channel incision and head cutting, increase water storage, and expand floodplain and wet meadow habitat. The project team also proposes a continued effort to conduct outreach to private landowners in Douglas County for future restoration projects. Subsequent phases will include noxious weed management, native plant restoration and future BDA sites both upstream on Smith Draw and downstream along West Foster Creek.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Foster Creek Conservation District, and Trout Unlimited