Hardy Creek

Hardy Creek is a tributary to the Colombia River.  The headwaters initiate at approximately 3,000 feet above sea level and flow almost 7 miles down to an elevation of less than 165 feet above sea level at the confluence with the Colombia River.  The confluence is located in Skamania County, Washington, very near Beacon Rock, approximately 3½ miles downstream of the Bonneville Dam.  The Hardy Creek watershed has a drainage area of 4.42 square miles.

Hardy Creek bisects the Pierce National Wildlife Refuge from east to west and supports one of the last remaining runs of chum salmon on the Columbia River.  In addition to chum salmon, the creek also supports small remnant runs of Coho, steelhead and Chinook salmon as well as a variety of native species of freshwater fish.

Hardy Creek Salmon Spawning Channel

Tiki Man waiting for salmon (Nov., 2000).

“Serious problems cannot be dealt with at the level of thinking that created them.”  Albert Einstein

Phone: 405-620-2004

E-mail: russ@riverman-engineering.com

The project was completed in November, 2000.  Unfortunately, to my knowledge, salmon have not yet used the channel.  The reasons for this are purely political and have nothing to do with the concept and design of the channel.  The first year after construction, the Pacific Northwest was experiencing a significant drought, so Travis did not open the head gates.  On September 2001, terrorists attacked America.  Travis was called up to active duty with the Coast Guard, where he remains to this day (July, 2004).  The second year, the head gate was opened fully and more flow was directed down the channel than it was designed for.  It was left in this position all winter long.  A personal vendetta against Travis by a disgruntled fellow Forest Service employee had resulted in much gravel wash and exposure of the synthetic fabric in many places.  Yet, the potential remains.  With a little more gravel and proper management, the salmon may one day utilize the channel as it was intended.

If you want to see more pictures of this project, go to the Hardy Creek album on my Photoworks site.

“The song of the river ends not at her banks but in the hearts of those who have loved her.”

                                 Buffalo Joe

“The ancient Irish bards knew the Salmon of Knowledge as the giver of all life's wisdom. In the salmon's leap of understanding like a leap of faith, we can see ourselves "in our element," immersed in the river of life. The cycle of the salmon's journey reminds us that all rivers flow to the same sea.”     Lynn Noel, Voyages: Canada's Heritage Rivers



1504 Ann Arbor Drive

Norman, Oklahoma 73069-5363

Contact Us:

Phone: 405-620-2004

E-mail: russ@riverman-engineering.com

Location of Hardy Creek Salmon Spawning Channel Project.

Hardy Creek near Columbia River confluence.

Lower reaches of Hardy Creek.

Hardy Creek headwaters.

In an effort to enhance chum salmon spawning opportunities in Hardy Creek, Travis Coley, formerly with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, undertook an effort to design and construct a salmon spawning channel.  The idea was to construct a channel that would act like a side channel to Hardy Creek and provide a greater area for the salmon to spawn in and thus provide a greater number of Redds.  The channel was to be lined with an impermeable synthetic fabric and filled with spawning gravel.  The flow in the constructed channel would be controlled by a headgate at the upper end.

Site Plan of Chum Salmon channel.

Although I was not involved in the original design, I did have the opportunity to lay the channel out and help supervise construction.  Travis called me up and said that the firm that did the design (whom I shall not mention) wanted what he thought was an unreasonable amount of money to lay it out and construct it.  He asked me if I was interested and I said, “Sure.”  After all, it wasn’t a real channel and the flow was to be controlled by a headgate.

I flew to the great northwest and from December 12-15, 1999 we laid out the channel using the site plan shown above (a larger version of course).  When it came time to do the cut-fills, we couldn’t get the survey data.  The unmentioned firm would not even provide the location of their bench mark.  So, we surveyed the alignment and I redesigned the channel slope and determined appropriate cut depths.  We then put out cut stakes for the excavator and they started digging.  The initial phase of construction involved digging a 1, 750 foot long ditch, so I got them started and flew back home.

Digging the “ditch” (Dec., 1999).

The channel started as a “ditch” (Dec., 1999).

Shaping the “ditch” (Dec., 1999).

The “ditch” (Dec., 1999).

In May, 2000, I went back out to Washington.  The “ditch” had been dug and shaped and was starting to resemble a creek.  Over 4,500 cu. yds. of material had been moved, ???? hundred feet of 24” corrugated pipe had been laid and buried, and a headgate had been installed on Hardy Creek.  But there was still a long way to go.  A corrugated arch culvert was placed under the wildlife refuge access road, ????? sq. ft. of  impermeable synthetic fabric was laid down and ?????? cu. yds. of spawning gravel was brought in, washed and used as bed material in the newly constructed spawning channel.   When I came back in November, 2000, the channel was completed.  However, when the gate valve was opened and flow was released into the channel, some settling of gravel occurred.  We spent two days building small rock vanes, cross-vanes and log structures to stabilize the gravel and provide better habitat features in the newly constructed channel.

Chum Salmon channel

The shaped “ditch” (May, 2000).

Travis Coley and the “ditch” (May, 2000).

The Hardy Creek confluence (May, 2000).

Headgate on Hardy Creek (Nov., 2000).

Tiki Man concerned about “ditch” (May, 2000).

Corrugated arch culvert (May, 2000).

Tiki Man

Completed channel (Nov., 2000).

Completed channel and culvert (Nov., 2000).

Tiki Man

Completed channel (Nov., 2000).

Completed channel (Nov., 2000).

Completed “headwater” outfall (Nov., 2000).

The Hardy Creek confluence (Nov., 2000).

Building rock structures (Nov., 2000).

Rock and log structures (Nov., 2000).

Rock and log structures (Nov., 2000).

Travis is liking it (Nov., 2000).