Spanish Creek Restoration

An assessment of the Spanish Creek watershed; funded by Proposition 13; was completed in 2006 and includes a comprehensive; community-based rehabilitation strategy for Spanish Creek; primarily in American Valley.

Spanish Creek; located in the upper Feather River watershed;
has been subjected to intensive use for over 150 years.
Resource use and extraction directly affecting Spanish Creek include all the usual suspects; but its hydraulic-placer mining
and stream channelization that have resulted in the most extensive changes to the system.

American Valley is the naturally evolved floodplain of Spanish Creek. Extensive large-scale hydraulic mining in the mid to late 1800?s led to the deposit of millions of cubic yards of coarse
gravel and cobble in Spanish Creek and its tributaries upstream
of the valley. A large streamflow diversion trench was
constructed through American Valley in the late 1800?s to
alleviate flooding in the valley. The episodic release of the
coarse sediment has resulted in excessive deposition of this material throughout the American Valley reach of Spanish
Creek; resulting in accelerated bank erosion and enhanced flooding.

Gravel material had been mined for years at the upstream end of American Valley. The operation was established to take full advantage of the natural tendency for gravel to deposit in this area. Initially; just enough gravel was harvested to prevent further aggradation of the channel. However; as community needs expanded; the operation began to overdraft the supply; contributing to bank erosion; expansion of the entrenchment and diminished channel maintenance. During the past several years; the amount of gravel extracted has been curtailed due to permitting requirements by the California Department of Fish and Game. As a result; an increasing amount of gravel has deposited in American Valley; resulting in a re-initiation of bank erosion and land loss. As a result; the Spanish Creek landowners have approached Plumas County for assistance. The community and landowners recognize the need for a holistic and long-term approach to managing the problems.
Sponsoring Agency
Plumas County Department of Public Works ? Engineering
Primary Contact
Robert A. Perreault ; Jr.
Contact Email
Project Number
Matching Funds
Total Cost
DAC Benefit
Supplemental Information
To improve the aquatic and riparian ecosystem of Spanish Creek and reduce erosion of its banks; reduce the amount of gravel entering American Valley by identifying the primary bedload source areas in the upper watershed; treating those source areas to reduce their output; identifying where gravels naturally deposit in American Valley and periodically remove the excess gravels without disturbing natural fluvial geomorphic development and processes.
DWR Resource Management Strategies
Flood management, Sediment management, Watershed management
Project Objectives
Restore natural hydrologic functions
Project Status
Project Owner

To the owner of Spanish Creek Restoration

1 resource

  • FMW-8 1 file Added 27 Aug 2016 Spanish Creek restoration