Big Flood For Bighill Creek!

Flash Flood Hits The BH Creek and Other Area Streams

I was awaken by the thurderous sound of rain reverberating on my roof, many times during the night. In the morning, I saw the water in the rain pail on my deck and estimated it to contain approximately 4 inches and it was still pouring down outside. Even after I finished my morning coffee and was ready to walk down into the valley to check the Bighill Creek out.

Layering up with two sets of rain coats and one pair of rain pants, I set out down the street to the valley pathway. It was still pouring hard, but I felt very warm and snug in my outfit. I could hear the thundering sound of fast flowing flood water, before I made it to a spot where I could see the dirty flows traveling thru the trees and willows far back from the stream’s normal channel.

The kind of flooding happened many years ago on the Bighill Creek, but I can’t put an exact year on it. During the Bow River Flood in 2013, the BH Creek was not flowing this high, but the nearby Jumpingpound Creek was. Later I would discover that the JP Creek was not impacted as much as the Bighill Creek was, this time around.

How Will This Impact Our Plantings From This Spring?

Amazingly, this flood event didn’t hurt as many of our willow and tree plants as other high flow events have. When the surface of a high flow event is level with the plants that we planted, for a prolonged period of time, the floating debris can strip the tops right off of the plants. However, during this flash flood event, the water came up so fast that the plants were covered by deep water for most of it, so there wasn’t as much floating material to cover the plants, as there has been during previous high flow events.

When the water levels came down, I was please to see some of the willows that Glenbow Elementary students planted on BH Creek, were still looking pretty healthy, despite the torrent of water they had been submerged under. The photo above was taken as soon as the sun started to shine, a day after the big flood event.

All of the beaverdams along the BH Creek were breached during the flood event of June 21st, 2019. This will allow trout migration upstream as the water levels receed. The high volumes of water that past thru the Bighill Valley will scour out new pool habitats, create log jams and cover habitats for trout and deepen runs, undercuts and other pocket pools on the stream. This will all benefit the trout habitat on the stream.

The new scoured gravelbeds will provide great spawning habitat this next fall, so this will also be a side benefit to the flood of 2019. I am hoping that all of the moisture this June will also recharge the acquifers and ground water table to help maintain good flows in the BH Creek for the rest of the open water season. Floods do benefit trout streams, after they are over.

This willow may be covered in grass from the big flood, however, the leaves are in great shape and the plant will survive this first season. The grass around the cutting will help deter voles and mice from chewing the bark of the plant. The flattened canary grass around the willow will eventually spring back to a standing position, but in the meantime, the willow will get plenty of sunlight.

About Guy Woods

I am Director of Bow Valley Habitat Development, based in the Town of Cochrane, Alberta, Canada. I love to fly fish and it is this past time that prompted me to get involved in the field of riparian and fish habitat enhancement. I have been working in this pursuit for over 40 years!
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