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Instream Restoration Riparian Restoration Fish Passage
Fubar Creek   Prince of Wales-Outer Ketchikan, Alaska
Primary Project Type: Instream Restoration
     Secondary Type: Fish Passage
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  With the restoration of the stream’s historic channel, migrating fish have been ...  

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Primary Problem: Channel Avulsion, Loss of Fish Habitat, Sedimentation
     Secondary Problem: Natural Fish Passage Barriers
Main Restoration Action(s): Channel reconstruction, Culvert removal, Floodplain reconnection, Grade control structures, Habitat enhancement, Large woody debris structures, Sediment control
Native Fish Focus: Coho Salmon, Cutthroat, Dolly Varden, Pink salmon, Steelhead
Is this project part of a watershed scale restoration? No
Project Dates: 2002 to ongoing
  Initial Monitoring: 1990
Restoration Implementation: Road storage and material acquisition began in 2004, instream work was implemented in 2006
Follow-up Monitoring: Annually through 2011 with recommendations for a longer period
Lead Agency:
     USDA Forest Service, Craig Ranger District, Tongass National Forest, Prince of Wales Island
     USDA Forest Service Teams Enterprise
Project Partners:
  Alaska State Department of Transportation
Alaska Department of Natural Resource
Alaska Fish and Game
Project Location: Fubar Creek, located in the Craig Ranger District, Prince of Wales Island, Southeast Alaska, is federally owned and managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The watershed area covers approximately four square miles from the headwaters to the junction with Harris River. For a map of the project area, click here.
Project Description: Historically, Fubar Creek provided high-quality spawning and rearing habitat for coho, pink, and chum salmon, steelhead and cutthroat trout, and Dolly Varden char. Timber harvest and associated road construction into the 1950s resulted in approximately 520 acres, or 20 percent of the watershed, harvested. There was also about 4.2 miles of road. Much of the timber harvest occurred along the valley bottom and included over half of the existing riparian area. A bridge along the Hydaburg Highway was constructed to cross Fubar Creek at a location where the creek had historically migrated across its floodplain.

In 1993, more than ten landslides occurred in the headwaters of Fubar Creek as a result of heavy rainfall. Several of the large landslides dumped debris piles across Fubar Creek, while other debris slides flushed sediments down tributaries, which made their way into Fubar Creek. The rate at which the sediment and woody debris entered the stream channel exceeded rates prior to timber harvest and overwhelmed the stream’s capacity and power to transport the sediment. These concentrations of sediment and debris significantly aggraded the stream channel, reduced the channel slope by approximately 60 percent, and created a topographic “bulge” upstream of the Fubar Creek Bridge. Downstream of the bridge, the channel was incised and actively eroding due to the lack of sediment in that reach. The increased sediment loads from the active erosion made Fubar Creek a candidate for 303d listing under the Clean Water Act. The channel aggradation caused the majority of Fubar Creek flow to abandon its historic channel and traverse the toe of the Hydaburg Highway south of the bridge. To prevent erosion of road fill, the road ditch was rip-rapped and a series of relief culverts were installed to accommodate the majority of Fubar Creek’s flow. Only periodic high flows accessed the original channel under the bridge. This shift in flow affected not only the highway crossing, but also fish passage. As higher flows receded from the historic channel, fish would be stranded in pools and eventually killed by either animal/bird predation or by drying up as the water table receded. Fish that remained in the new channel had limited access over 1000 feet of prime anadromous spawning and rearing habitat, because the culverts were partial barriers to passage.
Project Goals: The goals of the project were to restore flow in the historic channel by rehabilitating slope, morphology, and sediment transport of the historic channel and by utilizing the floodplain and culverts under bankfull (or greater) flow conditions. These actions would improve fish spawning and rearing habitat, and improve adult fish passage in the area of the Hydaburg Highway road crossing.
Project Methods: The Fubar Creek restoration project involved rehabilitation of 2500 linear feet of stream corridor and adjoining floodplain. It was designed primarily to restore the hydrologic function of the creek, which involved construction of six large log jams, 2200 feet of pool-and-riffle channel, and 300 feet of wood-forced, step-pool channel. In addition, over a mile of old logging road was stored including removal of culverts, and over 200 logs and other natural materials were placed in and near the channel to create the structural complexity required for high quality salmon and steelhead habitat. For more information on restoration methods, click here.
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  Restoration involved construction of six large log jams, 2200 feet of pool-and-r...  
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  Heavy equipment was used to remove greater than four feet of accumulated stream ...  
Monitoring Data and Collection Methods: The monitoring plan for the Fubar Creek restoration project provides for evaluating the effectiveness of Fubar Creek restoration actions through the collection of monitoring data over a short time period (five years). The monitoring plan also provides recommendations for monitoring over a longer period of time. Monitoring efforts focus on channel location, channel morphology, sediment regime, fish passage, and channel-floodplain connectivity. Photo points, morphology surveys, and log and pool counts are used to document the response of the new channel to normal flow and floods. For more information on monitoring efforts in the Fubar Creek project area, click here.
Was this project effective and how was this determined? The Fubar Creek restoration project was completed in the summer of 2006. Just one week after the project was completed, over 400 adult pink salmon were observed using the pools and habitat created during construction. With the restoration of the stream’s historic channel, migrating fish now have access to over 1000 feet of new spawning and rearing areas, and they also no longer run the risk of being stranded in a dry stream channel when flood flow recedes. Effectiveness monitoring of the restoration project will document the response of the new channel to normal flow and flood flows, and the restoration project’s impact on native fish populations.

This project is a beginning to the vision of the U. S. Forest Service Tongass National Forest supporting a “restoration economy” in Southeast Alaska. Nearly $500,000 was spent to accomplish the channel construction and road decommissioning work. A veteran heavy equipment operator in Alaska said that this job was more satisfying than anything he has ever done. Many other opportunities exist in the Tongass to improve watershed structure and function, and to improve fish and wildlife habitat that is in less-than-optimal condition.
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  Looking upstream from the bridge during restoration....  
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  Looking upstream from the bridge after restoration....  
Confounding Effects/Additional Information: No
Project Specs (all specs are estimates):
  Man Hours: Approximately 3,000 hours to contract
Overall Estimated Cost: $500,000
For more information on this project contact:
  K.K. Prussian, U. S. Forest Service Tongass National Forest, Email:
Bob Gubernick, Engineer, Forest Service Tongass National Forest, Email:
This information was collected by: Kristin Keith
Project last updated on: 4/3/2007

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Updated: February 16, 2007
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