On June 9th, 2022, Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests employees and partners ventured to the Two-Mile Meadow Restoration Project site to monitor the restoration work that has been completed at the site, and to discuss the next steps in restoration. The Two-Mile Meadow Restoration Project is an ongoing project in the Palouse Ranger District in collaboration with the Latah Soil and Water Conservation District.
Before restoration, the East Fork Potlatch River through Two-Mile Meadow was diverted out of its historic channel, as a result of past logging and railroad operations. Combined with the eradication of beavers, these past developments negatively impacted the existing floodplain and riparian environment.
The purpose of this project was to restore meadow hydrology to a state that supports healthy native meadow and riparian conditions, including restoring the stream to its historic channel and elevations. The project was designed to slow water and enhance groundwater recharge, prevent the introduction of sediment into East Fork Potlatch River from excessive streambank and bed erosion, improve fish habitat, and promote natural native vegetation and riparian and wetland areas. To accomplish this, wood structures were installed called Beaver Dam Analogues (BDAs), to mimic the beneficial hydrologic processes that beaver dams provide to an ecosystem.
Attendees of the field trip inspected the BDAs, which were installed to hold and slow the flow of water. Attendees were excited to see that the BDAs were accomplishing their intended purpose. Additional work to the BDAs will be conducted this year to add more weave material to the structures to continue the restoration work in the meadow. Attendees also discussed additional restoration work in future phases, including beginning restoration work on the lower meadow, and potentially additional work at other locations upstream of the current restoration site.
The project has been years in the making, and it is a great accomplishment to see the productivity of the meadow after restoration. This can be seen in a variety of ways, including the vegetation that has been reestablished in the meadow through vigorous reseeding and planting of native plants, the multi-channel, meandering flow of the stream through the meadow, and the slowing of water flow by way of the BDAs. It is exciting to see the changes the meadow has undergone and to ponder the future of the meadow with further restoration. Check out the photos!