Natural Resources

Nason Creek Watershed

Nason Creek Watershed

Nason Creek Watershed

The Nason Creek Watershed originates near Stevens Pass with upper elevations at 8,040 feet.  It drains 69,000 acres and flows into the Wenatchee River near Lake Wenatchee at an elevation of 1,900 feet.  Spring Chinook, summer steelhead and Bull Trout all spawn in Nason Creek and are all listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Nason Creek has been identified by the Upper Columbia Salmon Recovery Board Regional Technical Team as the highest priority restoration area within the Wenatchee Basin for restoration work to improve habitat of these ESA listed species. Additionally, Washington Department of Natural Resources recently completed a Landscape Evaluation for the watershed, helping to identify priority treatment areas for forest health and fuels reduction work across ownership boundaries. 

The Chelan County Natural Resources Department (CCNRD) is working with multiple funding partners including the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology), US Bureau of Reclamation, Washington Department of Natural Resources, Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, Western Rivers Conservancy, and Chelan Douglas Land Trust to restore salmon habitat, improve water quality, and regain forest resiliency and upland ecosystem function.  Read on to learn more about these completed and ongoing efforts.


Salmon Habitat Restoration

The goals of stream habitat restoration projects is to create more spawning, resting, and rearing habitat for ESA-listed salmonids to increase survival and productivity rates and improve water quality for fish, wildlife and people. Historically, Nason creek meandered across a wide floodplain area to create high quality salmon and wildlife habitat, reduce high flow velocity, and filter pollutants. In many areas, infrastructure development has disconnected the mainstem Nason creek from adjacent floodplains, wetlands, oxbows and side-channels.  For more information about recently completed stream restoration projects in Nason creek, please visit our Habitat Project page, and scroll down to Nason Creek Habitat Projects.


Water Quality

Elevated stream temperatures in Nason Creek are detrimental to salmon and other aquatic life. The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) has developed stream temperature standards for the Wenatchee watershed and recommended actions for water quality improvement. These standards recommend a three-tiered approach to address stream temperatures in Nason Creek. For more information, visit this link.

CCNRD has developed three strategies to improve stream temperature in Nason Creek. The first strategy is to re-establish shrubs and trees next to the stream to provide shade for aquatic life and help maintain cooler water temperatures.  The second strategy is to evaluate the channel morphology or shape of the bed and banks.  Deposition of fine-grained soils into the stream bed makes the stream wider and shallower, resulting in warmer stream temperatures.  Sources of fine-grained soils include stream bank erosion and deposition from forest roads.  The third strategy is to address the amount of water in the stream, which influences stream temperature. Human consumptive use of water in Nason Creek is low.  Summer low water levels are a natural seasonal process in this watershed.

CCNRD and Ecology have partnered to monitor stream temperature and improve stream temperatures in Nason Creek by planting vegetation on stream banks measuring stream temperature and fine sediment levels, and implementing actions to reduce fine sediment inputs.  In 2019, CCNRD will measure stream temperatures to identify areas that maintain cool temperaures, called cold spots.  Then, CCNRD and other entities will design habitat improvement projects to improve fish use in these existing cold spots.  In 2016, CCNRD and Washington Conservation Science Institute conducted an inventory of forest roads to identify areas where the road network is eroding and increasing fine sediment levels in the stream. The final Nason Creek Roads Assessment Report was completed in 2017 and highlights priority focus areas where there is either erosion occuring or high potential for erosion to occur. The report provides recommended solutions to these issues, including road decommissioning and stormproofing/maintenance in areas where there is high potential for fine sediment delivery to fish-bearing aquatic ecosystems. The full report, maps, and table of recommended actions is available to view on the Nason Creek Watershed Forest Health Strategy page.

  • You can also be a part of improving water quality by taking action in the following ways:
  • If you live on a stream, do not remove the trees and shrubs that are growing on the stream bank.These protect the bank from erosion and cool the water for fish and aquatic life.If your stream bank does not have trees and shrubs, here is a list of plants  that you can plant and that grow well on stream banks in the Wenatchee watershed. Alternatively, contact CCNRD for more information on how we can provide labor and plants to plant the stream banks on your property.
  • Report mass wasting or erosion areas that you observe on Nason Creek to Chelan County.
  • When exploring, stick to trails and established river access sites to limit erosion on stream banks.
  • Attend Community Watershed Meetings  in your area to be part of the conversation! CCNRD hosts meetings every other spring to inform residents about stream restoration and water quality improvement in your watershed.
  • Limit the use of herbicides, fertilizers, and pesticides near streams and seasonally wet areas.
  • Do not drive or re-fuel vehicles or equipment in or near streams or seasonally wet areas.
  • Learn about how to protect water quality while washing your car, caring for your landscaping, and through management of your on-site septic system.
  • Spread the word!!!

 

Forest Health/Fire Resiliency

See the Nason Watershed Forest Health Strategy page. 

Nason Ridge

In 2018, the Western Waters River Conservancy purchased six square miles of land previously owned by the Weyerhauser logging company. To learn more about this effort coordinated by members of the local community and the Chelan Douglas Land Trust, and for information regarding the efforts to establish a community forest, click here.

 

Posted: 06/04/2019 07:33 AM
Last Updated: 12/29/2020 09:59 AM

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