Cassalery Creek Streamwalk Report
July 12, 2001
- Team Leader: Stuart MacRobbie
- Members: Pat MacRobbie, Don Clark, Cecil Carson, Emilie Carson, Tina Harris
- Hours and Sites: 21 person-hours at 5 sites over a three-mile span of the creek.
It was decided to start at the origin of the creek and go to its exit and to sample representative areas in between, given that none but the MacRobbies were familiar with Cassalery Creek.
The stream started near Hendrickson Road in the past but has been filled in by home building and cattle raising to the point that flow was first observed in this program at a site at the end of Griffith Farm Road Currently, it starts at the confluence of many little tributaries just west of Davis Sand and Gravel. Maps of this area down to and crossing Woodcock are in error as to the path of the creek. This was corrected on the map.
To the south of Woodcock, it runs between two farms that currently raise hay but there are horsed in one tributary near Woodcock. North of Woodcock it runs through low-density residential and hay farm use to the Coon Property where seed crops are adjacent to one part of the stream and cattle are throughout although now fenced out. The last half mile is isolated by a fenced, heavy riparian corridor from cattle use on both sides.
Riparian Vegetation & Canopy
From the beginning there is a wide, natural vegetated corridor, except that on the Coon property which has been revised by the Conservation Department The trees planted there several years ago are doing well and some summer shade may be available by next year, but Reed Canary grass is inhibiting some of the conifers which are much less prevalent than deciduous trees. The understory in most areas is mostly grasses but in some areas Himalayan Blackberry is predominant.
Stream Bank Erosion and Artificial Bank Protection
In a slow-flowing, low-volume creek such as this, there is little undercutting or other erosion. Only one instance of mile cave-in was observed on reach Number 1.
Stream Channel Habitat
South of Woodcock there is an almost impenetrable thickness of trees and brush which provides little more than a series of pools, but on the first reach there are riffles and fast-moving water with fish observed. North of this reach, the creek goes through another lengthy wooded area to come out on the Nelson and Coon properties, where recent restoration has provided much gravel, riffles and large woody debris. Fish were observed in this area. There appears to be no obstruction to fish passage below reach Number 1 now that the Jamestown Road culvert has been replaced. Possible upstream limit for salmon is just to the west of Clary Lane where a large Alder straddles the stream at which spot there is a drop of 18 inches or more. There is minimal to no input to the stream but there are several points where cattle excrement is introduced into the stream.
The amount of water flowing into the bay is minimal; irrigation use on such a small stream is heavy. Cattle in several sites can still pollute tributaries and in some places the Creek itself. The exit to the bay is through an ancient flume of minimal dimensions which obstructs frequently at times of salmon passage, thus preventing smolt exit and spawning entrance.
The stream appeared healthy at lower accessible reaches as exemplified by the observation of more fish than ever before and the clear flowing water.
It is unfortunate that restoration cannot be done in an orderly top to bottom manner, but in reality, it has to be done when permission and money are available. Thus the last half mile, done years ago is badly in need of restoration again, especially because of all the upstream disturbance and because the creek never has enough force to rid itself of silt over the gravel base. Finally, the major problem of an inadequate exit to the bay makes all the costs of upstream restoration meaningless.