Prairie Creek is a tributary to the Sauk River and is located about 4.5 miles from Darrington. Prairie Creek drains into Sauk Slough, which is a highly productive spawning reach for salmon. Currently, only the lower 0.4 miles of the creek are accessible to fish. Coho salmon and cutthroat trout have been documented in the lower portion of Prairie Creek. The remaining one mile of habitat is blocked by a perched culvert that is a complete fish passage barrier. The habitat above the culvert is confined to a ditch with absent or severely degraded riparian habitat. The artificial channel rerouting and entrenchment has significantly altered sediment storage and transport, channel migration, and habitat formation.
SRSC completed a feasibility study funded through a SRF Board grant (Boyer and Madsen 2006) that evaluated habitat conditions and restoration opportunities in the Prairie Creek watershed. Several alternative channel locations were identified that would restore fish access and improve natural landscape processes and habitat above the blocking culvert. These alternatives were determined utilizing historic records such as aerial photographs and maps, as well as existing topographic and landscape conditions. The preferred alternative identified in the study was to move the channel away from structures and the road, restoring natural landscape processes and habitat by constructing a new channel in the approximate location of a historic channel mapped in 1899 (currently private farm field). A bridge over Sauk Prairie Road would be designed to allow for channel migration and to prevent sediment accretion and scour at the crossings.
The Prairie Creek Restoration Feasibility Study was completed in 2006. No further actions have taken place due to private property concerns.
Primary Project Contact
Steve Hinton – Director of Restoration
SRFB – Salmon Recovery Funding Board
Boyer, D. and S. Madsen. 2006. Prairie Creek Feasibility Study.