JAMESTOWN, Ky. (April 29, 2016) – Officials celebrated the completion of the Hatchery Creek Restoration Project below Wolf Creek Dam during a dedication ceremony today, culminating a 21-month stream and wetland mitigation project that triples the length of the stream and prevents sedimentation pollution from making its way into the Cumberland River.
The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources conceived the project decades ago, but really came to fruition in the last seven years. Funding totaling $1.8 million, not including Corps funding for excavation, for the mitigation project on Corps of Engineers property came from monies held in a trust for stream and wetland restoration from the Kentucky Wetland and Stream Mitigation Fund.
Lt. Col. Stephen Murphy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District commander, said the project is “unique” because of the partnership building between the state of Kentucky and federal agencies, and because it primarily offsets the impact of construction projects by reestablishing and enhancing about five and a half acres of valuable streams and wetlands.
“It also solved for us a massive erosion problem that was threatening several of our campsites and roadways at Kendall Campground,” Murphy said. “That was costing the Corps of Engineers almost $50,000 working on that. The completion of this project has completely solved that problem.”
The project gave the Corps of Engineers enough top soil to cover a 40-acre disposal area filled with limestone rock, concrete and clay from the Wolf Creek Dam Safety Rehabilitation Project. The Corps spent $650,000 to excavate the soil, the solution that provided the most cost savings.
“It was a win-win solution for the Corps as well as with the other agencies because we were able to use about 56,000 cubic yards of top soil excavated from the channel and it saved us almost a million dollars,” Murphy said.
Hatchery Creek now extends from the Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery more than a mile through woodlands and wetlands with man-made runs, glides, pools, eddies, shoals and hunker bunkers cut up under its banks to mimic natural, wild streams and encourage natural behavior and spawning of wild trout.
Gregory K. Johnson, Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources commissioner, said a year ago this scenic stream did not exist and the flow of water from the fish hatchery took a much shorter route to the Cumberland River through a deep and eroded gulley.
“That gulley damaged water quality in the river,” Johnson said. “There was a sediment plume at the end of that ditch down there in the river. You could see it from aerial photography… it threatened downstream fisheries. It created serious public safety issues, really had no habitat value and frankly was an eye sore.”
Now more than 18 million gallons of water flow into the new stream from the fish hatchery daily. The stream drops 47 feet in elevation, including 30 feet through a series of steep pools in the final 150 yards before it empties into the Cumberland River.
The project required collaboration between biologists and engineers, contractors, volunteers and others to ensure success, Johnson said.
Kentucky State Senator Max Wise, District 16, added that the success of the project and getting things done did involve relationships, teamwork and determination, and the dedication of Hatchery Creek is a testament to the hard work by multiple agencies.
“The original visionaries of this project turned to others to be able to convert dreams into realities,” Wise said. “This development invigorates the entire natural area. It perfectly accents this area’s other many attractions that we have – that being the State Resort Park, Lure Lodge, Wolf Creek Dam, which is a major Kentucky lake tourist lure, and of course the Cumberland River. It’s a tremendous addition.”
James Gray, Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery manager, manages the stocking trout in streams across the state of Kentucky. He said Hatchery Creek is really the culmination of decades of talking about it, identifying funding solutions, and then agencies and private contractors partnering and working through the technical obstacles to make the stream a reality.
“This is a one-of-a-kind project and I think it’s going to be a precedent for other projects around the country,” Gray said. “The economic impact that it is going to have to Russell County and this area I think is going to be tremendous.”
Agencies involved in the Hatchery Creek Restoration Project included the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, Kentucky Division of Water, Kentucky Department of Environmental Protection, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Ecogro, RidgeWater Restoration and Management, and Stantec made up the project team of contractors.
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