Radiant Creek 2022

by | Jan 11, 2023 | News | 0 comments

Radiant Creek 2022
By Angela Ten

Radiant Creek is a tributary of central Alberta’s Clearwater River, which is considered critical habitat for Threatened Bull Trout. In the recent past, a flood caused a portion of Radiant Creek below the Forestry Trunk Road to deviate from its natural alignment, and become very wide, shallow, and straight.

TUC has been working with the local grazing allotment holder to rehabilitate this reach of Radiant Creek since 2020. We installed a fence to exclude grazing over 200m of the riparian area, cleared 20 acres of shrubs to increase grass cover in an adjacent area, planted over 1000 willows within the grazing exclusion area, and in 2021, installed a number of Post-Assisted Log Structures, or PALS.

The work doesn’t end there, though! In April 2022, TUC installed three trail cameras within the rehabilitation area to monitor how the PALS affected the stream during the spring snowmelt season. A 1-in-20 year flood event took place at Radiant Creek in June, and caused significant changes to the shape and direction (morphology) of the stream. The cameras allowed us to see exactly when and how the changes happened, which was a great asset for the project.



Believe it or not, this is exactly what we wanted! Although the flooding caused us to lose some PALS, as well as parts of the fencing, the remaining PALS all helped affect positive changes to the stream’s morphology. Several large pools had formed in association to some PALS, and sediment deposition had caused the formation of new meanders and gravel bars. Overall, the stream was also deeper and narrower than it was in 2021.


Radiant Creek

PALS in 2021

Radiant Creek

PALS in 2022











But did the fish respond to these changes? To investigate this, TUC held a volunteer workday in August with the Rocky Mountain House Junior Forest Rangers, staff from Cows and Fish, and members of the Tsuut’ina and members of the Sunchild First Nation. Staff and volunteers assisted with electrofishing surveys to assess the fish population within the reclamation area, as well as at a control reach upstream of the Forestry Trunk Road.

In 2021, only two Brook Trout were captured within the reclamation area. To our delight, we captured ten fish within the same reach in 2022, including one Bull Trout! We also captured another eight fish in the upstream control reach.



Radiant CreekRadiant Creek



Volunteers also helped rebuild a bank-attached PALS that had washed away during the flood, add woody debris to other PALS, and repair the collapsed fence sections.

Overall, TUC saw great success with the Radiant Creek restoration project in 2022. Despite the larger than expected flood, the PALS performed as expected, and helped encourage stream complexity.

We would like to thank Cows and Fish staff, members from the Tsuut’ina and Sunchild First Nations, and the Rocky Mountain House Junior Forest Rangers for volunteering with the PALS repair and electrofishing surveys, despite the rainy conditions! Thank you to Sundre Forest Products for providing woody debris to use in the PALS, and finally, thanks to the allotment holder for helping to unearth and repair sections of the collapsed fence in the spring. 2022 activities in Radiant Creek were funded by Alberta Conservation Association’s Conservation, Community, and Education Grant, and Alberta Environment and Parks through the Native Trout Collaborative, which is coordinated provincially with financial support from the Canada Nature Fund for Aquatic Species at Risk.

Trout Unlimited Canada is a nonprofit, charitable organization. Donations are tax deductible as allowed by law.