The Dry Spotted Tail Creek restoration is the first project in a stream-restoration program initiated in 2015 by the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. The existing creek channel was moved to its current location to improve agricultural drainage and reduce flooding potential on adjacent lands. The project reach includes the creek’s confluence with the North Platte River. Current irrigation practices now provide part of the base flow via irrigation return flows that support a cold-water recreational trout fishery.
The project’s primary objective was to reestablish a geomorphology within the channel that would support a naturally reproducing coldwater-fish community and an associated recreational fishery on lands held by Platte River Basin Environments, a nonprofit group that works to improve wildlife habitat and natural areas in western Nebraska.
After a series of listening sessions, Barr and our teaming partner, Five Smooth Stones Restoration, worked with stakeholders to develop preliminary alternatives for use in a multiple-component decision analysis. This process gave stakeholders a chance to help define project objectives that would inform design alternatives and, ultimately, help select a final design. The site and reference-reach data collected allowed for a Rosgen Level III evaluation and development of final construction plans.
The chosen alternative included a natural-channel design process matched with catchment hydrology and sediment supply. Additionally, the project included an upstream channel-diversion structure and a downstream channel-grade control to achieve project objectives. The team developed cost estimates to aid in soliciting grant funding. Construction of the meandering stream channel was done in 2019, and the diversion structure was constructed in late 2020 to complete the approximately 3,900 lineal feet of new stream channel.