The Mystery of the Gun Creek Crop Circles

Okay, well they aren’t exactly crop circles but if you have been out in the Goldbridge area this summer you might have found yourself thinking ‘What the heck has been happening out around the Gun Creek Fan area of Carpenter Reservoir?’ It looks like the remnant site of a giant sand castle building party or some alien craft landing sites. Well to answer your justifiable curiosity, what you are witnessing are in fact experimental riparian enhancement trials. What the heck are those you will probably ask? Well the massive landscaping work is the result of efforts by Splitrock Environmental and X’wisten band’s excavator and heavy machinery operator to implement large scale experimental plots. The plots are intended to encourage natural re-vegetation down into the plant unfriendly drawdown zone of Carpenter Reservoir.
The trials were designed to create micro topography (mounds and depressions) on sites that are otherwise completely flat and compact due to years of repeated flooding. The effects of the newly created pitted and mounded areas include;
• creating varied roughened and loosened soil conditions that provide microsites with cooler facing slopes and moisture collecting depressions.
• Dramatically increasing overall surface area heightening infiltration of precipitation and slowing runoff.
• The pits will act like pockets and capture both wind and water born seeds trapping them in greater numbers than flat ground.
• The depressions will funnel moisture and diversify moisture retention,
• The north facing slopes protect from drying effects of the sun and wind.
Splitrock crews planted our nursery grown native sedges and grasses into sections of the treatment areas to determine if planting speeds up re-vegetation. In addition, seeds of the vegetation superstar lakeshore sedge (Carex lenticularis) (applause!) (a native species able to survive the extremes of annual drought and flooding inherent in a reservoir’s operation) were sown into test plots. A ton of work went in to these trials and a litany of monitoring was and will be carried out. We will be watching closely over the next few years in an attempt to answer the question of whether anything can be done to support natural colonization of vegetation into the Carpenter Reservoir drawdown zone.
If you are up in the area be sure to check out some of the sites, they can not be missed! Please resist the urge to clamber, drive, dig, climb, and comb through the sites as every bit of disturbance can be a setback to re-vegetation in this extremely harsh growing environment. Be sure to let us know if you have any further questions. And as for the alien conspiracy theorists out there sorry to burst your bubble.

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by Splitrock Environmental