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This small beaver pond headwaters and its associated springs, feed two creeks which end up in two entirely different watersheds!
Ecology of Spurgeon Creek
Spurgeon Creek originates in one of the many wetland/beaver ponds that are found in the low-gradient, semi-agricultural Evergreen Valley area of unincorporated Thurston County, east of Spurgeon Creek Road. Like many wetlands, this area is fed by springs; however, this little beaver pond is far from ordinary. From the west side of this same wetland, Spurgeon Creek flows and eventually joins the Deschutes River at river mile 5.8. At the other end of this wetland, from its east side, Eaton Creek originates. Eaton Creek (featured in the Summer 2008 Stream Team Newsletter) flows northeast, into Lake St. Clair, and eventually to McAllister Creek which is part of the greater Nisqually River Watershed. Thus, this small beaver pond headwaters and its associated springs, feed two creeks which end up in two entirely different watersheds!
In 2010, the non-profit organization, Wild Fish Conservancy surveyed Spurgeon Creek to “ground truth” the location of the creek and its tributaries, characterize fish species composition and identify habitat restoration opportunities. This survey found that Spurgeon Creek and its associated wetlands provide many spawning and rearing opportunities for a variety of native fish species. In addition to Chinook and coho salmon documented by the Washington Departments of Fish and Wildlife, Wild Fish Conservancy found populations of several other species, including rainbow trout/steelhead, cutthroat trout, native sculpin, freshwater pearl shell mussels, signal crayfish and Olympic mudminnow, which is a state threatened species.
In addition, this survey documented a total of 12.7 miles of streams in the Spurgeon Creek sub-watershed, 3.5 miles more than previous state maps had indicated. In the near future, Wild Fish Conservancy will post the results of this interesting survey, including field data and photographs, in an interactive web-based map. To view this map, visit www.wildfishconservancy.org
Current Enhancement Projects
Where Spurgeon Creek flows under Rich Road, just south of Lattin’s Cider Mill, Thurston County Public Works will soon replace two 48-inch culverts with a 65-foot bridge. These culverts are old, undersized and partially blocking fish passage. The new bridge will be above the 100-year flood plain elevation and, most importantly, will allow the re-establishment of the creek streambed, increasing fish habitat and allowing for easier fish passage.
Just upstream of the new Rich Road bridge at Circle Hawk Farm, several exciting projects are in the works. The site is located on the main stem of Spurgeon Creek at river mile 1 (one mile up from the confluence with the Deschutes River). Many Stream Team volunteers may be familiar with Circle Hawk Farm, as Stream Team has been busy helping plant trees along the banks of this stretch of Spurgeon Creek.
Pending expected final approval in December by the state Salmon Recovery Board, this project will conserve, through acquisition of a permanent 14-acre conservation easement on the Circle Hawk Farm property, over 1800 feet of Spurgeon Creek riparian habitat and associated uplands. Also, as a part of this project, a pair of failing culverts under the farm driveway will be replaced, resulting in increased fish passage.
The Circle Hawk Farm site currently contains intact and restored riparian buffer conditions, as well as emergent wetlands, meadow, a forested pond and mixed conifer upland forest.
Species that will benefit from this project are Deschutes coho, steelhead, Chinook, coastal cutthroat trout and Olympic mudminnow. The secondary objective of the project is to build on the sustained efforts of community groups and many volunteers (including Stream Team) who have restored the riparian buffer on this property through successive native plantings over the last five years.