Cabin Creek Habitat Rehabilitation
By: Kaleo Gertridge
Cabin Creek (WBID: 108898) is a tributary of Fallentimber Creek within the Red Deer River watershed.
Background: Trout Unlimited Canada (TUC) became aware of a habitat rehabilitation opportunity along Cabin Creek in early 2022. The overall project will eventually involve the installation of a new off-highway vehicle (OHV) bridge, trail realignment, and closure and reclamation of redundant trail segments to reduce sedimentation of streams. Large amounts of erosion have occurred and is occurring on trails resulting in large gullies and sedimentation of watercourses. The project has been developed in collaboration with Alberta Environment and Parks (AEP) and Calgary ATV Riders Association (CARA). Project goals include improving habitat for federal Species At-Risk Act listed Bull Trout (Salvelinus confluentus) by utilizing bioengineering on upslope erosion gullies to revegetate bare soil while also using boulders and woody debris to preclude vehicle access to a large stream ford of Cabin Creek.
In 2022, TUC’s reclamation efforts centred on OHV access control to prevent continued motorized use of a stream crossing of Cabin Creek along an orphaned resource road. This is the first phase of the project and sets the stage for the remaining works in 2023 and 2024. TUC hired CCI Solutions to supervise and carry out the 2022 works. Riprap was sourced from Downer Contracting and delivered to the site on September 12, 2022. CCI personnel, along with their subcontractor (excavator and operator) were also on site on September 12. Although the intent was for riprap to be delivered in the morning and for the rock to be delivered adjacent to the stream crossing, several complicating factors limited the ability of contractors to carry out the full extent of TUC’s goals. The contractor delivering riprap got a flat tire leaving the supplier resulting in a delay of several hours while waiting to repair the tire. Secondly, neither the truck delivering the riprap nor the flatbed that delivered the excavator was able to travel the 2 km resource road to the stream crossing. As a result, riprap was unloaded near the intersection with Hunter Valley Road and the Forestry Trunk Road and pieces were transported to the stream crossing by the excavator. However, once at the crossing, the excavator was able to align riprap in such a way to preclude OHV crossings.
Project Activities: In 2023, TUC’s efforts have been met with exceptional standards. The rip rap was a success with the construction. Following the construction, on May 30, 2023, TUC had volunteers come out to Cabin Creek to participate in bio-engineering to address the trail erosion. An initial reach of 126m was planned with 34 volunteers, throughout the day the reach was expanded to around 200m. By the end of the day, approximately 1,550 willow stakes were plated, and approximately 150 poplar trees. A total of 40 structures were built and results could be seen immediately as the flow in the rut by the trail was completely stopped along with the sedimentation.
Funding Acknowledgement: Funding for this work was provided by the Canada Nature Fund for Aquatic Species at Risk, through a grant agreement between Alberta Environment and Parks and Trout Unlimited Canada.