Regional Offices > Cody Region > Cody Region News > Sunlight Creek restoration project to begin in August

Sunlight Creek restoration project to begin in August

June 26, 2018
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Cody - A section of Sunlight Creek on the Sunlight Wildlife Habitat Management Area (WHMA) is getting some much-needed improvements to ensure public access, address eroding banks and improve trout habitat.

Aquatic Habitat Biologist Laura Burckhardt said during the stream restoration process, a new channel and floodplain will be constructed upstream of the cabins to move Sunlight Creek away from high eroding banks and restore the stream to a functioning system.  In addition, an irrigation diversion on Sunlight Creek will be reclaimed. 

“Within the project area, Sunlight Creek has experienced unnatural stream channel movement and severe bank erosion for the last 40 years.  Last year, one of the stream banks eroded up to 150 feet, dumping over 31,000 tons or 1,855 dump truck loads of sediment into Sunlight Creek,” Burckhardt said. 

While channel movement and bank erosion are natural processes, the rate of movement in this area is overly high and represents some of the highest rates and most severe bank erosion occurring on Sunlight Creek.  “The unnatural rate of change on this section of the creek threatens public access roads to Trail Creek and Painter Creek, threatens infrastructure, degrades fish habitat and reduces brook trout populations due to sedimentation and over-widening. The excess bank erosion has also resulted in sediment deposition downstream of the project area,” Burckhardt said.

Based on detailed analysis of channel changes over the last 15 years, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department determined that channel instabilities and erosion can be addressed through realignment and reconstruction of a stream channel with the proper slope, location and size.

Construction is expected to occur from August through October of 2018.  Active construction is anticipated to take about 70 days.

During construction, users will see and hear heavy equipment rebuilding the stream channel. Water clarity may be reduced within and downstream of the project when equipment is working in the water.  Fish may temporarily leave the area during construction.

Project funding partners include Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, U.S. Forest Service, East Yellowstone Chapter of Trout Unlimited, and Trout Unlimited’s Embrace a Stream grant. 

- WGFD -

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