General Meeting Oct. 14, 2011

Bolton Creek Riparian Restoration Initiative

Al Conder, Regional Fisheries Supervisor with the Wyoming Game and Fish Casper office, will be our guest speaker at our next monthly program where he will tell us about the ongoing Bolton Creek Riparian Restoration project.

This project will restore the riparian (cottonwood, willow and riparian grass) communities within the Bolton Creek watershed, southwest of Casper. There are remnant cottonwoods and willows, but head cuts within the stream have drained the adjacent floodplains, which have left several reaches of these communities high and dry. The Bureau of Land Management has excluded from grazing a stretch of Bolton Creek to determine cottonwood and willow response, which has been extremely favorable, but these communities are still at risk due to the lowering of the water table. Game & Fish currently assists the beaver with dam building materials and food sources in order to increase their activity in the watershed.  Beaver dams will gradually raise the water table and prevent further head cut events. Over time beaver dams will raise the stream bed to a point where the disconnected floodplain will once again become reconnected and serve as a fully functional floodplain that will dissipate energy during flood events. Later evaluation will be made to determine if the cottonwoods and willows will naturally propagate the riparian area, or if it will be necessary to augment the cottonwood and willow restoration with some plantings.

Restoring a riparian corridor back to cottonwood, willow and riparian grass will provide food, shelter, and water for wildlife, especially during drought years. Furthermore, this project will improve the hydrologic functions of Bolton Creek, which will reduce sediment loads into the North Platte River, thus improving trout habitat. Moreover, the cottonwood-willow community will provide improved habitat conditions for neo-tropical migrants (songbirds), cavity nesting birds, non-game mammals, non-game fish, amphibians, and potentially trout. In addition, sage grouse late brood-rearing habitat will improve due to the raising of the water table, which will increase native riparian herbaceous plant species, such as Nebraska sedge and basin wildrye.

Please join us on Friday, October 14, 2011 at 7 pm at the Oil & Gas Conservation Commission Building at 2211 King Blvd. for this very interesting presentation.  As always, the program is free and open to the public!  Al Conder and Bruce Walgren