Research Plan September 2016-June 2017

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During the last 9 months, we have heard from many agricultural landowners, farmers, and growers in the area through one-on-one discussions, Technical Advisory Group meetings, and informal conversations. This research resulted in the Existing Conditions Report, and informed the research and work plan for the next 12 months, ending in June 2017.

This work plan was the result of many discussions with farmers and growers in the Clear Creek area. Issues important to the agricultural community, including some expressed by the Clear Creek Farmer’s Collective, were critical in identifying and prioritizing how to proceed with research and on-the-ground work in the coming year. We are immensely grateful to farmers for their time spent in reviewing both the Existing Conditions Report and several previous versions of the work plan- this helps us ensure that work completed under this Floodplains by Design grant directly supports the long-term agricultural viability of the Clear Creek area.

The Farming in the Floodplain Project works hard to be flexible and responsive to the needs of the agricultural community, and respond to new challenges and opportunities as they arise. With that in mind the Research Plan and accompanying Timeline are subject to change. As always, contact us if you have any comments or questions.

Research Plan Phase 2

Timeline

WCC Crew Drainage Work Complete

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In late August, Washington Conservation Corps crew members and the community volunteers, led by Loren Paschich, completed work clearing out reed canarygrass from Canyon Creek (upstream of Clear Creek) from 52nd about 1600 feet northwest. Loren’s team spent most of the summer clearing blackberry and thick grass along the drainage easement, which allowed the WCC crews to efficiently work within the creek. While the crew worked on the creek, Loren and his team also performed maintenance on Nancy’s Ditch, parts of South Ditch, and on the northwest portion of the creek.

Before
Cleared out Clear Creek, after WCC work. Picture taken from the culvert above 52nd, looking northwest on August 29th, 2016.
Cleared out Canyon Creek, after WCC work. Picture taken from the culvert above 52nd, looking northwest on August 29th, 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cleared out Clear Creek, after WCC work, looking towards 52nd. Picture taken August 29th, 2016.
Cleared out Canyon Creek, after WCC work, looking towards 52nd. Picture taken August 29th, 2016.
Cleared out Clear Creek, after WCC work, looking towards 52nd. Visible water movement. Picture taken August 29th, 2016.
Cleared out Canyon Creek, after WCC work, looking towards 52nd. Visible water movement. Picture taken August 29th, 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The culvert underneath 52nd connecting to Canyon Creek, after WCC work. Picture taken August 29, 2016.
The culvert underneath 52nd connecting to Clear Creek, after WCC work. Picture taken August 29, 2016.
Cleared out Clear Creek, after WCC work, looking towards 52nd. Picture taken August 29th, 2016.
Cleared out Canyon Creek, after WCC work, looking towards 52nd. Picture taken August 29th, 2016.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drainage District 10 is working on a maintenance plan for the coming year to build on these efforts. This month, the Farming in the Floodplain Project technical contractors, ESA, has a field crew performing a drainage inventory on Clear Creek, Canyon Creek, and the drainage ditches. Thank you to the many landowners who have assisted with access to the ditches!

ESA's team preparing for the drainage inventory. September 20th, 2016.
ESA’s team preparing for the drainage inventory. September 20th, 2016.

 

Drainage Inventory starts September 20th

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On September 20th, the technical contractor, ESA, will have a field team in the area working on a drainage inventory. Work will continue through September 28th. This work is expected to help the agricultural community and Drainage District 10 in a number of ways, including:

  • Providing a more comprehensive understanding of how the drainage system (not just the parts owned by the drainage district) works;
  • Providing information that can help with planning of future maintenance activities and that could help fill out permits (though we will not provide permit-level survey data);
  • Will make recommendations for needed maintenance activities; and
  • Will provide a baseline for existing conditions so that the County’s proposed project and other future planning and project efforts can be appropriately evaluated for their impacts or improvements to drainage.

We will be reaching out to landowners in advance of this work to discuss any questions you might have and in some cases, request your permission to access the drainage ditches adjacent to your property.

A preliminary report will be made available in late Fall.

For more information, see: Drainage Inventory Information Sheet

Some of the information collected includes:

  • Channel locations (tracked with GPS)
  • Locations of road crossings, culverts, junctions of ditches, etc (tracked with GPS)
  • Channel size (width, depth, depth of water, depth of sediment)
  • Channel condition
  • Channel substrate
  • Type and density of vegetation (both in the channel and adjacent to the channel)
  • Culvert size and condition
  • Photographs of channels at each measuring point

Drainage work begins on Clear Creek

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August 11 visit 2

This week, the Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) crew members and local volunteers have begun work on Clear Creek along Pioneer Way, starting at 52nd street near Chief Leschi school. They will be working for approximately 12 days (Mondays-Thursdays) in August, including the weeks of August 8th and 15th. Their work is focusing on reed canarygrass removal to improve the flow and capacity of the creek/drainage ditch. Drainage District 10 Commissioners are coordinating with the crew to plan for longer term maintenance of the creek and are considering multiple options for long term solutions for invasive reed canarygrass.

The Farming in the Floodplain Project is able to provide funding for the WCC work through the Puyallup Floodplain Reconnections grant through the Department of Ecology’s Floodplains by Design program. We are excited to be able to support on-the-ground work towards the ongoing agricultural viability of this area. We continue to seek ways to work collaboratively with other stakeholders and interests to ensure that the importance of the agricultural community is recognized and supported, and welcome input on our work.

Loren Paschich standing near one pile of removed reed canarygrass
Loren Paschich, community volunteer, standing on the trail he cleared. The pile behind him is reed canarygrass the WCC crew cleared from about a 3 x 5 foot section of ditch.

Loren Paschich has been an incredibly valuable leader in these efforts- he has assembled a team of volunteers and cleared an access path through blackberries and thick reed canarygcass along the ditch from Chief Leschi school northwest for over 1/4 mile. The volunteer team has been removing reed canary grass from the ditch from the northwest while the WCC crews work from 52nd street towards Loren’s team. Without Loren’s efforts, this work would take weeks longer and would not be nearly as effective. Please get in touch with him if you would like to help out for a day or two! 

Below are some pictures showing the ongoing work.

Comparison of conditions for Before
This picture was taken looking southwest down the creek and is a visual comparison of the work before clearing reed canarygrass began.
Looking northwest from 52nd two days work
This was taken at the culvert at 52nd, looking northwest. The cleared area took two full days of work.
The perpendicular cleared swath was their test site and represents one days work
The perpendicular cleared swath was the initial WCC test site and represents one day of work- it is approximately 30′ x 5 ‘.
before
Before clearing began.
two WCC crew members removing RCG
Two WCC crew members removing RCG. They estimate the channel is 3-5 feet deep.
Looking southeast
Looking southeast towards the culvert at 52nd. Two crew members removing RCG.
August 11 visit showing how thick the RCG root mass is
Indicates how thick and dense the RCG root mass is. This will be an access point for RCG removal when the crews get to this section.
Cleared by Loren and the volunteer team
Loren and his volunteer team removed reed canarygrass northwest of this section. It is less dense in this section due to shading from the trees along the creek.
Jacob Pedersen from the Executives Office removing RCG
Jacob Pedersen from the Pierce County Executive’s Office tries his hand at reed canarygrass removal.
Jordan Jobe from PCC Farmland Trust tries out the RCG rake
Jordan Jobe from PCC Farmland Trust tries out the reed canarygrass rake.

Existing Conditions Report

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We are pleased to share the first milestone in the Farming in the Floodplain Project- the Existing Conditions Report.

This report examines the current conditions that affect agriculture in the Clear Creek area and uses the context of “risk” to discuss what future actions might increase or decrease the risks that impact long-term agricultural viability.

This report is the result of many months of technical research, three Technical Advisory Group meetings (including local farmers and growers), and conversations with farmers and residents in the area. The report informs the workplan for Phase 2 (August 2016-June 2017) of the Farming in the Floodplain Project, which will explore specific risk factors in depth in order to inform recommendations on addressing risk and benefit to agriculture for projects in the area.

Download the report: Existing Conditions Report

A cover letter providing context for the ECR in relationship to the grant that funded it: Cover Letter

New web map of Clear Creek area

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Interactive web map of the Clear Creek area showing currently and recently farmed properties as well as water levels from 2009 flooding.
Interactive web map of the Clear Creek area showing currently and recently farmed properties as well as water levels from 2009 flooding.

ESA (our technical contractor) has been hard at work on a lot of research related to agricultural viability in the Clear Creek area. As we all dig into understanding what information is available, and what information we need, we’ve unearthed a ton of data.  ESA has compiled an interactive web map of relevant data from the Existing Conditions Report, allowing the user to view different layers and easily compare where current agricultural land is in relation to elevation, for example. This map will continue to be updated, and we hope it is a helpful resource for comparing the many maps that exist for the area.

Let us know if you have any ideas for additional data to add, or ways to make this map more helpful for you.

Drainage work in Clear Creek

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Invasive Species remediation and channel improvements

 Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) Crew members will be performing drainage ditch maintenance in the Clear Creek area during the month of August. They will be focusing their efforts on reed canarygrass removal in the ditch along Clear Creek on the north side of Pioneer Way.

WCC crew after their first day of work on July 28th, 2016.
WCC crew after their first day of work on July 28th, 2016.

The WCC Crew (pictured above) will be working with Drainage District 10 and community members on these efforts. This work is being funded in part by the Farming in the Floodplain Project under the Puyallup River Floodplain Reconnection grant funded by Department of Ecology’s Floodplains by Design program. This work is the result of ongoing collaborative efforts between the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, Pierce County’s Surface Water Management, Pierce County’s Executive Office, PCC Farmland Trust, Drainage District 10, and the Clear Creek Farmer’s Collective.

Based on a trial on Thursday July 28, the crew estimates that this effort will take several weeks, and hopes to start work the week of August 8. Drainage District 10 will host a public meeting regarding this work later in the month, and may be seeking volunteer labor to support the WCC efforts.

For more information contact: drainage.district.10@gmail.com

Third TAG meeting report

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The third meeting of the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for the Farming in the Floodplain Project (FFP) was held on July 12th, 2016 at the Puyallup Library. Attendees discussed the public draft of the Existing Conditions Report and the plan for Phase 2 Scope of Work and heard an update on the Floodplains by Design 3 Grant Application. A full report of the meeting can be found here: TAG 3 Report

ESA staff presented key findings from the public draft of the Existing Conditions Report (ECR), and discussed plans for the work plan for August 2016-June 2017. Additionally, they briefly presented a fantastic web map showing much of the data relevant to agriculture in Clear Creek.

Our next TAG meeting will be in late fall/early winter and will focus on sediment issues in the Clear Creek basin.

More information about the Existing Conditions Report.

More information about the Farming in the Floodplain Project work plan for August 2016-June 2017.

More information about the web map.

 

Second TAG meeting Report

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The second meeting of the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) for the Farming in the Floodplain Project (FFP) was held on June 6, 2016 at the Puyallup Library.  About 25 people participated, including Clear Creek area farmers and residents, a Drainage District 10 commissioner, Pierce County staff, Farming in the Floodplain Project staff, and regional technical experts.

Topics discussed at the meeting included flood modeling done for the proposed Clear Creek Floodplain Reconnection Project; the definition of agricultural viability; and potential work plan elements for future phases of technical work on the FFP.

Northwest Hydraulics Consultants (NHC) presented information on the Clear Creek floodplain reconnection modeling NHC performed for Pierce County Surface Water Management in 2014.  NHC’s role was to investigate the flooding impacts of the proposed Clear Creek Floodplain Reconnection Project at a feasibility level, focusing on large flood events.  Following NHC’s presentation, TAG members discussed and asked questions about the model. See our Meeting Report for a description of the presentation, model, and discussion.

Video of NHC’s presentation is available here, with the Q&A available here.

ESA staff presented a draft definition of agricultural viability.  Agricultural viability can be defined as the ability of a farmer or group of farmers to:

  • productively farm on a given piece of land or in a specific area,
  • maintain an economically viable farm business,
  • keep the land in agriculture long-term, and
  • steward the land so it will remain productive into the future.

TAG members commented that regulations, access to farmland, and affordability of farmland are important factors of agricultural viability.

ESA staff presented a list of potential future work plan elements for the FFP.  This work could be done in Phase 2 of the FFP or in the future.  The potential future work plan elements can be found in the Second TAG Meeting Report. For several meeting participants, technical work that would help Drainage District 10 was the highest priority.

Full notes from the meeting are available here: Second TAG Meeting Report