Rebuilding a natural environment at Newsome Creek
Historic dredge mining in Newsome Creek, near Elk City, Idaho, left tailings piles across the floodplain and stream channel, resulting in poor habitat quality for plants and fish. These tailings piles also isolated the creek from the floodplain and limited the riparian area. Last summer marked a new era for the site when S&K Environmental began remediation work on 2.75 miles of the creek area. The project was commissioned by the Nez Perce Tribe and administered by the U.S. Forest Service.
S&K Environmental first removed 38,500 cubic yards of floodplain dredge piles over 9.5 acres and placed them in adjacent repositories. Revegetation efforts involved planting over two acres of upland and floodplain areas with 3,499 single-hole plants. 3,052 feet of stream bank were trench planted with 3,246 riparian plants.
“Wherever feasible we used existing mature woody vegetation at the new floodplain elevation,” said Lorna McIntyre, Vegetation Management Specialist. “We placed large trees and slash on the floodplain to increase roughness and create what we call ‘microhabitats.’” Top soil was salvaged and placed over the cobbly soils and a native seed mix was broadcast over the area. To minimize in-stream water quality impacts, temporary wooden bridges were installed at all of the stream crossings.
Months of hard work went into healing the floodplain and returning it to a more natural environment. The benefit to fish and native vegetation will be immediate.