The Jumpingpound Creek is an old friend of mine, and it all started when my first forays into the wilderness, as a young boy with a fishing rod and big ambitions. Most of the time those ambitions paided off big time, so later on in life, I figured it was time for some payback! Meaning that the stream was in need of some help and so where its resident rainbow trout.
Fortunately, the landowners of the big ranch on the lower reach of the JP Creek were friends of our family, so working with them was very easy and the ranch owners were keen on taking care of the creek as well. The first projects were completed back in the 1980's and they involved creation of pool habitat and spawning enhancement thru an area of the stream where it opened up from a tight valley to an opening pasture land with native grasses and some cottonwood and willow cover on the riparian zone.
Riparian Zone is the key work here, because after attendomg an international fish habitat workshop and completing a tour of some project streams, of which one of them I was involved in, I came across a great publication titled "Caring For The Green Zone". Before departing from the conference, I managed to grab a handful of this publication, which came in a magazine style format. The idea was that I would distribute copies to the owners of some of the local ranches and see what there impressions were.
As it turns out, there was already some real interest in this approach to pasture management and stream protective measures. The protection of native grasses is already important in our area, so learning about how modern pasture rotation can enhance native grasses growth and yeild for cattle or horses. It was a great time for change and this seem to help spark some interest.
Edith Wearmouth was the driving force behind getting the ball rolling in setting up a meeting with the local JP ranchers, so we could discuss this new movement. Thanks to Al Locke of Cochrane, for arranging the meeting with Cows and Fish contact, Greg Hale. Al was at that time, a in-stream flow needs biologist with Alberta Environment and he had a keen interest in this appraoch to stream flow protection as well. The meeting took place at the Wine Glass in 1997.
Once the process of setting up a plan for the WineGlass Ranch was in place, the program was off to a great start, with the first fencing in 1999. Despite the major floods and loss of new fencing along the stream, the WineGlass perservered and the program of new management along the stream was in place. It is just recently that we are now seeing or witnessing the transition of riparian growth taking root along the stream banks.
Sheldon Lowe of the then river engineering branch of Alberta Environment had completed designs on the JP Resting Pool Project in 1987, which BVHD had completed the same year. While Sheldon, Bill Griffiths a fish habitat research biologist and I were touring the creek on the Wine Glass Ranch prior to that project, we also had a good look at the erosion site just downstream of the ranch. At that time, Sheldon promised to do a design to stop the erosion at the toe of the eroding and very steep slope, on the outside bend in an oxbow in the stream's course. This was a great opportunity to completed another whorthwhile project, but this would have to wait until a later date, when the time was right for me to complete the project.
The creek flows downstream to the Bow River, with plenty of key spawning habitats along the way. The reduction of silt, soil and clay loading that occurs annually at the erosion site was a real detrement to the reproduction of rainbow trout. Every year, during the spring freshets, the erosion sites contribute tons of silt, soil and clay into the stream channel. The sediments from erosion sites settle down onto spawning beds, smoothering trout eggs. Spawned eggs need clean gravel, water and well oxygenated water, free from smoothering silt, to survive incubation.
The opportunity to get something done at this erosion site came in 1996, when as fish habitat chairman of the Jumpingpound Creek Chapter of Trout Unlimited Canada. I decided to end my final year as chairman with two projects for the chapter, a boulder enhancement project and the stream bank stabilization project, both on the JP Creek. A year earlier was when I contacted Sheldon to come up with a design for the site. The following photograph of the design that he completed is shown below.
This is a design of the deflectors, then described as Groynes, a river engineering word that was later replaced with rock deflectors, positioned in a repelling angle of 30 degrees upstream.
The rational behind the use of limestone tips on the deflectors is due to its ability to stand up to long term water erosion. Sandstone is a much softer rock, so it is uses mainly in the anchoring.
This is the bank erosion site one year after the project was completed, and just after a recent flood.
This is the flood that occurred just before the photo above was taken. You can see the water running down the clay slopes, but the toe erosion has been stopped.
This photo was taken from the same point on the high bank as the old photos that are shown above. The rock deflectors have been buried as the slope adjusted over the years. This site will continue to mend over time, and new growth will hide any further evidence of a man made result.
This photo shows how the new stream channel is positioned to the right of the photo to the left. The new riparian growth is also showing transformation. You could glue these two photos together to see the big picture!
The recent explosion of new riparian growth is the highlight of this stream's long term recovery and a perfect showcase for a Cows and Fish Program partnership. This is what our area streams need, some special attention and hard work to get them back on track with the natural setting that the stream historically had.
The Jumpingpound Creek once nurturd a wild appearance, your imagination can conjure up that takes you back to the a time before settlement, when the native tribes rode thru the vallyes and set up their winter or summer buffalo hunting camps. The buffalo was part of the Jumpingpound's attraction back then, but we presently can't have buffalo roaming the valleys unless the landowners have that inclanation, so we will just have to settle for the large historic cattle ranches that have protected the land for over a century.
Can you imagine the dense settlement of this beautiful land, without the open spaces of the cattle ranches?