Erosion Control Project Receives National Award

Nov. 1, 1999

IECA Member and Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control John McCullah coordinated a two-year watershed restoration and erosion control project in Whiskeytown National Recreation Area (NRA) in northern California. The focus of the watershed restoration was to demonstrate how road-induced gullies and landslides can be treated to reduce sedimentation of anadromous fishery streams. Road-erosion inventory techniques, geomorphic analysis, and logging road-removal technologies were successfully transferred from Redwood National Park in Humboldt County, CA, and from lessons learned in Grass Valley Creek watershed in Trinity County, CA. McCullah, who is the Shasta College watershed restoration class instructor, led the project into successful completion in the fall of 1998, with over a mile of abandoned and eroding logging road decommissioned. An outsloped, multiuse recreational trail was created on the recontoured slopes. In 1999, this cooperative watershed demonstration project between Whiskeytown NRA and Shasta College received the Environmental Conservation Park Partnership Award from the National Park Foundation

Recently, McCullah, along with the president of Shasta College and two Whiskeytown officials, were honored with this environmental partnership award at the White House Visitor Center in Washington, DC. The corporate sponsor of this award, Canon USA Inc.,presented a check for $5,000 in recognition of the best in public/private partnerships. McCullah, in his quest to spread the word on innovative erosion control, uses any opportunity to explain how these technologies will promote healthy watersheds, provide jobs to unemployed loggers and fishermen, reduce the erosional impacts to salmonid fisheries, and allow watersheds to “produce” more water. He got such an opportunity when he personally met with Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt during the awards reception. McCullah had met Secretary Babbitt before, in 1993, while working on the Grass Valley Creek restoration project, but this meeting was the highlight of his Washington, DC, trip. He reports that Mr. Babbitt seemed very open to the idea of logging-road removal and indicated an interest in a field trip to view the work.

The Watershed Restoration Conference in Redding, CA, in the fall of 1998 had over 100 attendees and was sponsored by the Western Chapter of IECA, Sacramento Watersheds Action Group, Shasta College, and the Institute forSustainable Communities. The conference included a field trip to the Paige Bar Demonstration Watershed in Whiskeytown, and the tour drew over 30 participants. Besides logging-road removal, other restoration techniques were demonstrated, including the use of native grasses and mulch for erosion control and bioengineering techniques, such as brush layering, live-pole planting, live-pole drains, and willow wattles. This work is particularly important in California as a result of recent CALFED (the federal-state task force responsible for developing a water-supply plan for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Bay-Delta) efforts and salmonid habitat restoration activities. Professional papers and findings on this work will hopefully be presented at the 31st Annual IECA Conference and Trade Exposition in Palm Springs in February 2000.