Reecer Creek Floodplain Restoration

Reecer Creek is a tributary to the Yakima River in Ellensburg, WA.  Until October of 2010, nearly 4,000 feet of the stream’s lowest reach was confined by a levee.  The Reecer Creek Floodplain Restoration project is a collaborative effort to restore floodplain function, enhance salmon habitat, and provide educational and recreational opportunities in this reach of the stream.

Project Area

Project Overview

The Reecer Creek Floodplain Restoration project enhanced nearly a mile of trout, steelhead and salmon rearing habitat in Ellensburg’s Reecer Creek, a tributary to the Yakima River at river mile 153.7. Rearing habitat has been identified as a limiting factor to steelhead and salmon production in the Upper Yakima watershed and this project aligns with actions identified in the Yakima Steelhead Recovery Plan (Conley et al., 2008, p.192 & 195)

In order to enhance salmonid habitat in the creek, the project:

  1. Relocated 3,700 ft of diked creek onto its recontoured floodplain;
  2. Revegetated the riparian and upland areas with native trees, shrubs and grasses;
  3. Added in-stream wood to improve passage and provide fish cover;
  4. Added wood to the floodplain to increase surface roughness to reduce flood water velocity and encourage infiltration and sediment deposition;
  5. Created initial conditions of dynamic equilibrium by approximating natural stream morphology; and
  6. Opened up 58 acres of floodplain
  7. Increased the quantity and quality of aquatic habitat by increasing channel length to approximately 6,000 ft, increasing channel complexity and improving width, depth, and velocity characteristics to provide high quality salmonid rearing and spawning habitat.

Restoration outcomes include:

  • Creation of 3,300 feet of high-quality rearing habitat;
  • Enhancement of 1495 feet of spawning habitat;
  • Restoration of 35 acres of functional floodplain and riparian habitat;
  • Restoration of 28 acres of native upland vegetation; and
  • Removal of the Suver levee, which represents 22,000 cubic yards of fill in the active floodplains of Reecer Creek and the Yakima River.

Forterra recognized the Reecer Creek Floodplain Restoration project, and South Central Washington RC&D, with its 2012 Innovation in Conservation Award.  A video detailing all the awardees can be found here.  Reeccer Creek is highlighted at minute 5.

Project Partners

The Reecer Creek Floodplain Restoration project benefits from the monetary and non-monetary contributions of multiple agencies and organizations.

The project was originated under the Yakima Tributary Access & Habitat Program in 2003 through communications with the City of Ellensburg (landowner, funding), project exploration and the seeking of grant funding. The project partners now include the Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group (Mid-Columbia Fisheries, implementation), South Central Washington Resource Conservation & Development Council (RC&D, funding, coordination), Yakama Nation (YN, funding, expertise, revegetation tools), Kittitas County Conservation District (KCCD, revegetation expertise), Kittitas County Water Purveyors (through the Kittitas Reclamation District (KCWP/KRD), funding), and US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS, funding).

The project design team includes Gina McCoy, an engineer with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Bob Montgomery, an engineer with Anchor QEA and Barry Baker, an engineer with Gray & Osborne. Funding has been secured from the WA State Salmon Recovery Funding Board, WA Department of Ecology, YN, the City of Ellensburg, USFWS, and KCWP/KRD.