Murphy Creek spawning channel maintenance and monitoring
Murphy Creek spawning channel has been an important Rainbow Trout enhancement project on the Lower Columbia River for many years. Initially developed and run by volunteers of the Trail Wildlife Association, this group is now looking for expertise and human resources from the Okanagan Nation Alliance to be able to continue the project into the future.
Update: Murphy Creek side channel helps Rainbow Trout
Members of the Trail Wildlife Association (TWA)worked with biologists from the Okanagan Nation Alliance and other volunteers to give Murphy Creek Spawning Channel a makeover in 2018.
Murphy Creek, north of Trail, flows into the Columbia River and is important for Rainbow Trout spawning and juvenile rearing. In the early 1990s, a side channel was added to the mainstem to provide better spawning and rearing habitat. In recent years, under the management of TWA’s Rob Frew and Al Mallette, with numerous partners, there have been many changes at the channel. Results are positive, with as many as 74 spawning Rainbow Trout recorded along the 200-metre channel of cascading pools, at one count.
In 2018, the channel intake was given temporary armour to withstand the next freshet. The settling pond at the top of the channel was dredged of accumulated sediment, and the border of the pond was re-contoured to improve safety and access. The spawning channel was raked to remove silt and small woody debris, and a load of river-run gravel is being placed in spring 2019. In addition, 84 native trees — including Trembling Aspen, Douglas Fir, Western Redcedar, and Dogwood — were planted to suppress the further invasion of Black Locust.
More work is planned, including permanent improvements to the channel’s intake and the development of a long-term management plan.
Final report: executive summary
Murphy Creek is a primary tributary to the Columbia River located 7 km north of the City of Trail, British Columbia. Murphy Creek is a fish-bearing stream that was fragmented with the installation of a highway culvert considered a barrier to fish passage. As such, a resident Rainbow Trout population now exists above the highway culvert, and approximately 500 m of habitat is available below the highway culvert for migrating Rainbow Trout spawning and rearing.
In an attempt to increase spawning and rearing habitat below the highway culvert on Murphy Creek, the Trail Wildlife Association (TWA) built a spawning channel adjacent to Murphy Creek in 1992. The spawning channel inlet has been upgraded since the initial installation and is now comprised of 2 intakes embedded in a composite barrier wall adjacent to a plunge pool below the highway culvert. Water levels into the spawning channel can be manipulated through the intakes. The spawning channel begins at the outlet of a small reservoir used by the Birchbank Golf Course for irrigation. The reservoir acts as a sediment settling pond for inflowing water above the spawning channel. The spawning channel is 225 m long and consists of 23 pools in a step-pool morphology.
Activities at the spawning channel in 2018 included monitoring of the spawning channel during freshet, Rainbow Trout spawner and redd monitoring, dredging of the sediment settling pond, armoring of the barrier wall around the intakes, riparian planting, routine maintenance within the spawning channel (raking of gravels and removal of large woody debris), and community involvement. This project was funded by the Fish and Wildlife Compensation Program in alignment with their streams Action Plan Habitat-based Priorities.
Click the provincial database link below to read the full final report for this project.