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Friday, January 20, 2017

Part 2 - Following the Big Flows on the Lower Yuba River

Old Island Complex Looking Upstream - Photo #1

This is part two of the post dated 01/17/17. The purpose of these photos and notes is to provide  some perspectives as to what affect the extreme high flows of the recent storms, peaking at 85,000 cfs, may have upon the stream bed, trees and the natural environs of the Lower Yuba River

The photo above was taken downstream from the "Old Island Complex". This is just downstream from the area that is known as the "Aquarium". Why the name "Aquarium"? When floating downstream there is a complex of rock formations that have created a run of deep water, in some cases over 20 feet deep. When the river is running gin clear, you can see every pebble on the bottom as the fish as the scurry away.

Back to Photo #1 - The channel of water to the center right is flowing out of the "Aquarium" There is another channel to the left was flowing through but has now stopped. Both channels are trying to cut the corner so to speak. These channels are what we all hope will continue to flow once the river drops to fishable conditions of 2000 cfs or less. My thoughts are that it will not. This complex is a prime example of an area that could use a restoration project. It would require a piece of equipment to do so, as mother nature needs some help.

This area had water flowing through multiple channels years ago before the main channel was scoured deeper. There is too much gravel at the top end of the channels to allow the river to flow down through the area when there are lower flows during the summer and salmon spawning time. They can put equipment to fix Putah Creek, why can't this be done on the Yuba? Maybe a volunteer group of volunteer with picks and shovels good get it to start flowing?

Old Island Complex Looking Downstream - Photo #2

Photo #2 - This photo is taken from the tailout of the "Aquarium" run. At the right the water is running into what is at 5500 cfs, a big bay. The water in this channel is no longer running through. Just to the left there is a channel that is still running through, (see photo 1). Most of the water is running to river left which is shown in the foreground. This continues to run at the highest volume, thus digging the tailout deeper on this side. This will result in the main flow continuing to flow down the main channel at flows of 2000 cfs or less. Thus drying up the other two channels. Back to the way we are accustomed, but not the way we would like.

Miner's Corner - Photo #3

Photo #3 - This run, which is the main channel below the tailout of the "Aquarium", flows into "Miner's Corner". This corner on the left has been dubbed as "Miner's Corner" by Jon Biaocchi, and maybe others that I am not familiar with. It is appropriate as there are often people panning for gold on this corner. This photo was taken when the river was flowing at 5500 cubes and the river is in its normal deep channel. The river hits "Miner's Corner" and then turns to the right to the antiquated "Concrete Diversion Structure". All back to normal.

Erosion at Road - Photo #4

Photo #4 - The road along the run above "Miner's Corner" has a paved road along it. A large portion of the right edge of the road has been undermined. This piece of asphalt is hanging over about 4 feet. This shows the power of the river at the high flows. It takes established trees and shrubs to hold the gravel. Sometimes even that isn't enough.

Run Below Miner's Corner to the Antiquated Concrete Diversion Structure -Photo #5

Photo #5 - The run shown here is right back where it always is found. The gravel bar to the right was completely underwater at the highest flows during the storm.

Top of "Long Island"  - Photo #6

Photo #6 - This photo was taken about 1/4 mile below the antiquated concrete diversion structure just above the top of "Long Island". The flow is divided and is flowing into the main channel on the right and to the side channel at the left. This is back to normal, although it looks to me like the top of Long Island has been eroded back a ways. There is a big pool to the left as the water flows into the side channel.

Pool at Side Channel of Long Island - Photo # 7

Photo #7 - This is a better look at the pool just downstream from the top of Long Island. The high flows carved this out. Water is currently flowing into the pool, dead ends and then dumps off to the left into the side channel. This will get much smaller as the water recedes to fishable shape of 2000 cfs or less.

Middle of Long Island - Photo #8

Photo #8 - At the middle of Long Island the channel is a bit wider and gravel has been eroded behind some of the willows on the main gravel bar. This may stay this way at fishable conditions. Time will tell.

Long View of Long Island - Photo #9

Photo #9 - This is a longer view of Long Island taken about 1/3 down from the top. I appears to me that this side channel has widened and deepened a bit. Long Island was completely under water during the highest flows of the storm. With that said it it back where it normally is.

Bottom of long Island - Photo #10

Photo #10 - The final photo is of the bottom of long Island. It looks pretty familiar but what the structure of the stream bed will be like, We'll have to wait until I can float it once it drops down to about 2000 cfs.

In summary;
  • The photos from this and the previous post were taken from the areas of the river that was accessible by vehicle. 
  • Sycamore Ranch Park and Hammon Grove Park were closed. 
  • The river was flowing at about 5500 cfs on the day they were taken. 
  • The portion of the river where the photos were taken was from about 1/3 of a mile above Parks Bar Bridge to downstream about 2 1/2 miles from the bridge.
  • The photos are meant to open a dialog as to the effect the highest flows have upon the river and its environment. 
Hopefully this dialog may answer a few questions. Time will tell where the fish are.


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Have any Questions or Comments? Let me know, Clay.