Mike Brunfelt, RG
Secondary channels provide critical off-channel habitat for key life stages of aquatic species. In many systems, interruption of natural processes via anthropogenic influences have reduced the quantity of secondary channel habitat and have impaired the processes that help form and maintain them. Creation and enhancement of secondary channels is therefore a key component of stream rehabilitation, particularly in the Pacific Northwest where the focus has been on enhancement of habitat for ESA-listed salmonids. Secondary channel enhancement varies widely in scope, scale, and approach depending on species requirements, hydrology/hydraulics, geomorphologic setting, sediment dynamics, and human constraints. This presentation will review case studies from numerous secondary channel projects constructed over the last 20 years. Lessons learned will be discussed that help to understand project performance and inform future project design.
A variety of secondary channel project types will be reviewed, including mainstem flow splits, year-round flow through, seasonally activated, backwater alcove, natural groundwater-fed, and engineered groundwater-fed (i.e. groundwater collection galleries). Projects will be discussed that span a range of project construction intensities, such as full excavation of side channels, select excavation to increase flow, or utilizing mainstem structures to activate channels. Different configurations for connecting to the main channel, and their relative performance, will also be presented. A variety of connection types will be discussed including stabilized channel entrance, free-formed entrance, using bar apex jams to split flows, using ‘bleeder’ jams to limit secondary channel flow, and obstructing the main channel to divert flows into secondary channels. The performance and longevity of projects will be discussed, particularly with respect to the response to sediment mobilizing events. Lessons learned from design, construction, and monitoring will be synthesized to share what worked and what didn’t, and what key elements a practitioner should think about as part of enhancement project design.
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