Sucker Springs Creek Restoration
Sucker Springs Creek, a spring-fed tributary to the Pit River downstream of the Pit 1 Powerhouse, is home to the endangered Shasta crayfish, as well as other special status endemic species. Historically, Sucker Springs Creek was also an important spawning tributary for native Pit River rainbow trout and Sacramento sucker. The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) constructed five ponds within the channel of Sucker Springs Creek for use as a hatchery, which was in operation from 1965 through 1996. In August of 1996, the removal of flashboards from the weirs separating the hatchery ponds allowed signal crayfish to invade the upper ponds (i.e., ponds 2 and 3) where Shasta crayfish were found. DFG initiated the first stage of a restoration of Sucker Springs Creek, which included: the removal of hatchery structures and hatchery-related features and considerable efforts to eradicate signal crayfish in the lowermost ponds (i.e., ponds 3, 4, and 5). The weirs at the downstream ends of the five ponds were left in place to provide barriers to the upstream migration of signal crayfish.
In order to complete the first phase of the project, signal crayfish must be totally eradicated from ponds 2 through 4. This requires repeated snorkel surveys in order to both eradicate signal crayfish and recover and relocate as many Shasta crayfish as possible to the uppermost pond (i.e., pond 1). The second phase of the project is to restore the 0.25-mile reach of Sucker Springs Creek that was used as a fish hatchery to pre-hatchery conditions. Although a specific restoration design has yet to be developed, the general plan is to restore the natural morphology and function of Sucker Springs Creek, which was highly modified to accommodate the hatchery operation. In its current configuration, the hatchery section of the Sucker Springs Creek channel is 1.5 to 2 times wider than it was originally; cobbles and boulders have been removed from the channel and riparian vegetation is sparse. According to design specifications, an excavator with a thumb attachment will be utilized to place the boulders along the banks and within the channel in a configuration designed to mimic prior stable stream morphology and proportions. Stream banks will be re-vegetated with native transplants, sod mats, and/or propagated plant plugs. The monitoring phase of the project will continue for five years after the completion of the construction phase and will be based on monumented channel cross-sections that will be established and surveyed prior to the start of construction.