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10ft Steep creek bed to rainfall dependent creek

 
Posts: 4
Location: Modesto California
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Hello all,

I have a creek that runs along the edge of my property and during a good snowfall season, it will run all year. A dry year, and it will dry up (California central valley). Trees line both sides of the creek bed, and the understory is wild blackberry bushes.

It's also 10ft or more down a steep decline, which leads to small beaches of mud and gravel.

I'm curious how I can best nurture this area? I was thinking introducing some cat tail and other vegetation that might start to create a habitat for beneficial small critters.

Should I mess with the ecology of that section of the river by manipulating it? I see no fish or life in the river, which is brown but clearish.  Would digging a pool to one side for filling during the wet months benefit or degrade the system?

Also, I am not asking what can I do to legally change the river bed / course, I understand that all info given is just opinion...

Thanks for any suggestions!
 
pollinator
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Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
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My gut reaction is to leave it as it is.

Personally I would extract water from it to water my food forest, fish pond, natural swimming pool and provide water for the animals. I would put a pump in there are take some water out.

For erosion control: https://www.fema.gov/pdf/about/regions/regionx/Engineering_With_Nature_Web.pdf



 
pollinator
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Ditto.  I wouldn't mess with it.  Maybe a photo might change my view.
 
pollinator
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Kiboko Jones wrote: I was thinking introducing some cat tail



Beware of introducing cattail to any small or slow-moving body of water, as it will colonize and eventually fill the pond completely.  Cattail serves to create land from bodies of water, so unless you want the creek to stop being a creek and become a marsh, don't add cattail.
 
Kiboko Jones
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Location: Modesto California
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S Bengi wrote:My gut reaction is to leave it as it is.

Personally I would extract water from it to water my food forest, fish pond, natural swimming pool and provide water for the animals. I would put a pump in there are take some water out.

For erosion control: https://www.fema.gov/pdf/about/regions/regionx/Engineering_With_Nature_Web.pdf



I wouldn't mind seizing water from it, but this creek is in my zone 5, a little under a 1/4 mile away. I work in pumps and am intimately familiar with what I would need to pump it anywhere useful, and i am not prepared to spend that kind of money for a semi-constant running creek.

Thanks for the input Bengi.
 
Tyler Ludens
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Zone 5 in Mollisonian Permaculture is the "don't mess with it" zone, so that pretty much takes it out of the running as a resource for human use anyway.

 
gardener
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Beavers!

At one time, that little creek was inhabited by the critters, as was every other waterway, large or small, on North America.  As a keystone, engineering species, beavers did more to build this continent than any other animal (bison included).  I hope you see a family of beavers move into your watershed and make their way to your stretch of creek.  May their tribe increase.
 
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Kibok0 wrote: ...10ft or more down a steep decline,



I'm in the process of propagating Goji starts to use in erosion control. They roll and I expect they'll root as the new growth assumes it's rolling habit down the grade. I had birds in them last autumn. I put maybe twenty starts off a one year plant in a tub of water to root and from those I must have sixty or more.
 
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I would second beavers, or at least the idea of them.   What I would suggest is mimicking them by making lots of small dams (which is fun!).  This can be done best (as there will be easier access to do the work) during those dry years, at or near the end of your dry period, when the willows I am going to mention will take hold without drying out.  The permacultural approach with water is to slow it's speed over the ground, spread it out across the ground, and sink it into the ground.  In this case, by slowing it with dams of brush and rocks, and maybe planting willows or other fast-growing cut piece plants, you will raise the water in small pools, this will spread it into the banks (and outward into your landscape), as well as collect sediments which will increase the depth of saturation of bottom materials.  This raised water level will saturate more material higher up your banks as well as under your stream bed, and the pools and all of this will increase your bio-diversity.  The more you do this, the more water will stay on your land, and the more water will be in your creek on drier years.  
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Beavers!

At one time, that little creek was inhabited by the critters, as was every other waterway, large or small, on North America.  As a keystone, engineering species, beavers did more to build this continent than any other animal (bison included).  I hope you see a family of beavers move into your watershed and make their way to your stretch of creek.  May their tribe increase.



One reason that your creek gully is so deep is likely because the beavers have been removed, that their dams have been removed over time from lack of beavers maintaining them, and as such when the water levels are high the rushing water of the spring snow melt (or rain-storm water, flashing run-off) has been eroding the little valley bottom for a very long time, cutting it deeper and deeper.  This has dropped your surface water table.  The brown water is an indication of erosion.  Beaver dams (or any small dams) create pools of water but they also dramatically increase siltation and sedimentation of valleys.  They are also leaky dams so they never hold back all the water.  If you were to mimic them by making brush and rock dams, you will raise the creek valley bottom, and, eventually the dams will silt up the ponds.  You have the opportunity for more fun, by increasing the height of the dams in the future to renew the process, and as the dams progress upwards on the banks of the valley, the steep long drop will decrease over time, particularly if this is carried on by others after you are gone.  Beaver simplfy the process by making bigger dams than you would be able to easily do.

I don't know if they like to eat blackberries (which I think are introduced species that has gone feral, and are not wild local species), and I don't know if beaver's native food sources are even available in that valley anymore, as the Central Valley has dried out significantly and had it's plant ecology altered greatly since the beavers were removed.  Beavers need food, and they need stuff to make their dams and lodges out of (though some will den up holes in the creek bank without the need for much materials).  Beavers will not show up out of nowhere, they have to have a local growing population to want to risk exploring a new vallley from.  In some cases, beavers will return to an area after rehab work has been done to a creek.  The increased ecological community as well as increased depth are likely the reasons.  

Be the beavers you want to see in the world.        
 
Kiboko Jones
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Roberto pokachinni wrote:

Beavers!

At one time, that little creek was inhabited by the critters, as was every other waterway, large or small, on North America.  As a keystone, engineering species, beavers did more to build this continent than any other animal (bison included).  I hope you see a family of beavers move into your watershed and make their way to your stretch of creek.  May their tribe increase.



One reason that your creek gully is so deep is likely because the beavers have been removed, that their dams have been removed over time from lack of beavers maintaining them, and as such when the water levels are high the rushing water of the spring snow melt (or rain-storm water, flashing run-off) has been eroding the little valley bottom for a very long time, cutting it deeper and deeper.  This has dropped your surface water table.  The brown water is an indication of erosion.  Beaver dams (or any small dams) create pools of water but they also dramatically increase siltation and sedimentation of valleys.  They are also leaky dams so they never hold back all the water.  If you were to mimic them by making brush and rock dams, you will raise the creek valley bottom, and, eventually the dams will silt up the ponds.  You have the opportunity for more fun, by increasing the height of the dams in the future to renew the process, and as the dams progress upwards on the banks of the valley, the steep long drop will decrease over time, particularly if this is carried on by others after you are gone.  Beaver simplfy the process by making bigger dams than you would be able to easily do.

I don't know if they like to eat blackberries (which I think are introduced species that has gone feral, and are not wild local species), and I don't know if beaver's native food sources are even available in that valley anymore, as the Central Valley has dried out significantly and had it's plant ecology altered greatly since the beavers were removed.  Beavers need food, and they need stuff to make their dams and lodges out of (though some will den up holes in the creek bank without the need for much materials).  Beavers will not show up out of nowhere, they have to have a local growing population to want to risk exploring a new vallley from.  In some cases, beavers will return to an area after rehab work has been done to a creek.  The increased ecological community as well as increased depth are likely the reasons.  

Be the beavers you want to see in the world.        



This was more along the lines of what I was thinking when I originally posted the question. The creek bed is deep for a while in both directions and I thought it would be an awesome entryway to welcome critters back into a place where they can hopefully thrive once again.

Thank you for this reply Roberto.
 
Marco Banks
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We tend to think of beavers inhabiting forested areas with lots of deciduous trees like birch or maple.  But they can colonize just about any environment, including dry, desert-like places.  They have a tremendous capacity to engineer systems that capture and hold whatever water may flow in an area make them the original permaculturalists.  They are systems designers—highly adaptive and sensitive to their context.

Here's a great video of beavers in Arizona --- desert beavers.


 
Roberto pokachinni
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Here are some other beaver and dam building threads for you to check out.  There is a lot of good info in them.in oklahoma  brush dams  new beaver dam
 
pollinator
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I have gotten a lot out of Bill Zeedyk’s work on high meadow and wetland restoration:

 
Kiboko Jones
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Ben Zumeta wrote:I have gotten a lot out of Bill Zeedyk’s work on high meadow and wetland restoration:



Ben,

The internet has been down at work, and that coupled with the virus has just slowed my day down to next to nothing. Luckily you passed this video info on to me. WOW! this guy has so much knowledge it is just absolutely incredible. The amount of change he brought to the wetlands he worked on must be very satisfying for him to observe.

Thank you for passing this on Ben, truly just an interesting hour of info from Bill.
 
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