"maintenance" on remote creeks - Mountain Buzz

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Old 07-28-2005   #1
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 49
"maintenance" on remote creeks

I recognize a lot of the little creeks etc. that have been discussed and photo'd here from geology work in western San Juans. Really surprised to see some of them being paddled--i.e. Iron Creek (near Summitville) -I think it's being called Treasure Canyon or something like that.

This is question and I have no idea what the answer is or if it's significant--so don't get any ruffled feathers: It would be interesting to see if there is any downside to the so-called maintenance of these more remote and higher order, high elevation streams. If it's 1 tree I really can't imagine a any impact. But over time, it it adds up to more--just something to consider.

I really have no idea what you folk are up to in that regard, so this may be a complete non-issue. Lots of earth-scientists in the area, sure you could get all kinds of feedback.

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Old 07-28-2005   #2
Mad Scientist/Creeker
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 805
Downed woody debris in rivers, creeks and even "higher order, high elevation streams," is constantly in flux. At least every few years in all non-controlled (i.e. non damned) river systems, a natural disturbance called high water, shakes things up, rearranges the wood and generally changes the riparian habitat. This is a good thing in terms of wildlife habitat. It affords new oppurtunities for different animals and closes off others so that certain areas can repopulate. For instance sometimes a log can create a nice deep pool in an otherwise shallow creek and the fish habitat is generally thought to be enhanced by this, but when that wood moves it does not destroy the entire fish habitat for that section of river. The fish easily adapt to life in a differnet pool, fertilize their eggs elsewhere on the same stretch and the insects and micro-invertabrates that they were feeding on have a chance to repopulate.
In my opinion we (creek boaters) need to consider a few simple things when cleaning wood from runs and our impact cxan easily be minimized (at least in terms of wood removal - disturbing wildlife, eroding banks, etc. are seperate issues).
1. Only remove wood that does not allow room for safe passage. If the wood is not blocking the entire runnable channel than leave it be.
2. Only remove the section of log that is blocking the channel if possible. Just cut a slot a couple of boat widths wide and that should do the trick. This is usually easier anyway.
3. Be discreet. Using a chainsaw in the wilderness is illegal (at least in big "W," nationally designated wilderness), and it truly does disturb the wildlife. Remember all of the animals of the forest use the river for hydration and the noise created by chainsaws tends to scare them away (but like roads and other human impacts - not for long - they need the water and they will come back). Chainsaws cause by far the biggest impact in relationship to wood removal. Use hand saws and rope advantages where possible. When using a chainsaw concentrate its use. Do all of the cutting that you can in one day and then give the area some time before you come back to cut more.
These are my opinions and although I work as an ecologist I am not writing this as a doctoral thesis. I do however have a strong understanding of riparian ecology and the effects that human impacts have in riparian areas. I also own a creek boat and have removed a few logs from my favorite creeks.
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Old 07-28-2005   #3
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Join Date: Oct 2003
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Well said! Thanks for the informative post.
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Old 07-28-2005   #4
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Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 39
This is a great thread! Thanks for the info. I've always been a fan of the " 1 log at a time" policy. If you're cutting legally, that should be plenty of work for a run anyway! Off the subject some, I've always liked the old-fashioned hand chain saws- safe and easy to transport and very durable.
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