Pit River Channel Erosion

Northeast Region

The Pit River is 303(d) listed as impaired from high temperature, high nutrient loading, and low dissolved oxygen. Though not part of the listing, the river is also known to have problems from active channel erosion that results in deposition of fine sediment and impacts on aquatic life. Both the Central Modoc RCD and the Pit RCD have implemented erosion control projects, using a variety of techniques, to test and demonstrate the feasibility of establishing a stable, well-vegetated riverbank and riparian corridor.

Bushy Ranch Project

  • Location: Pit River near Canby, Modoc County
  • Project Sponsor: Central Modoc RCD
  • Time Frame: 1999–2002
  • Funding: $210,000 (State Water Bond)
  • Project Objectives:
    • Reduce accelerated bank erosion and property loss
    • Establish a stable, vegetated riverbank
    • Demonstrate cost and feasibility of erosion control methods

The Bushy Ranch project was a cooperative effort on the part of the Central Modoc RCD and the Bushy family to address longstanding problems of riverbank erosion and loss of adjacent pasture land. The project offered an opportunity to demonstrate and compare several stabilization treatments. These included establishing a rock toe at the water’s edge with brush layering on the bank above, (2) full vegetated riprap from the bottom to top of the bank, and (3) placement of root wads and rock, interspaced with willow plantings. Livestock exclosure fencing was also part of the project. All construction materials (rock, willows, and tree root wads) were from local sources. Significant contributions of time and materials came from the Bushy Ranch, local heavy equipment contractors, and public agencies (USFS and BLM). Project construction took place in fall 2000, and subsequent years of monitoring and observation have shown that all treatments were satisfactory in achieving the objective of channel bank stabilization and vegetative enhancement.

Shaw Ranch Project

  • Location: Pit River near Lookout, Modoc County
  • Project Sponsor: Pit RCD
  • Time Frame: 2006–2008
  • Funding: $80,000 (Federal 319, State Water Bond, and NRCS)
  • Project Objectives:
    • Reduce accelerated bank erosion and property loss
    • Establish a stable, vegetated riverbank
    • Demonstrate cost and feasibility of erosion control methods

The Shaw Ranch Restoration Project was implemented to address problems with bank erosion and loss of riparian vegetation and pasture land on the Pit River. This ranch had a history of progressive, innovative resource stewardship and was an ideal candidate for a demonstration project. The project involved placing a series of J-hook rock vanes and willow planting along 1,300 linear feet of riverbank that was actively eroding. Compared to standard rock riprap techniques, this approach is a relatively low-cost, low-technology approach for riverbank stabilization. The materials used came from nearby rock deposits and willow stands. The rock vanes are positioned to redirect river flow and scour velocity away from the raw, exposed banks, thus allowing vegetation to establish. As this process evolves, roots provide stabilization and the vegetation traps more fine sediment that supports additional plant growth. Several years of post-project monitoring have shown that objectives are being achieved.