Stoney Creek is situated on the south bank of the Nechako River just upstream of Riverside Park in the community of Vanderhoof. Stoney Creek was once a thriving rainbow trout and chinook salmon creek. At one time (account is from 30 years ago), juvenile Nechako white sturgeon were caught as bi-catch of the chinook fishery in the creek. Stoney Creek is also an important traditional area for Saik'uz First Nation.
Stoney Creek flows out of Nulki Lake, roughly 20 km south of Vanderhoof. The creek flows through the Saik'uz First Nation Reservation, north toward the Nechako River. There is a series of natural falls on Stoney Creek that cascade over the steep valley wall of the Nechako River valley. Below the falls, Stoney Creek flows through agricultural, forested and residental landscapes. The lower roughly 5km of Stoney Creeks flows within the municipal boundary of the District of Vanderhoof. The riparian zone is heavily altered along much of its length within the municipal boundary.
The Vanderhoof Community Trail loop follows the lowest section of Stoney Creek - named the Stoney Creek Nature Trail. There is a foot bridge over Stoney Creek. This location is a great place to see trout. There are interpretive signs along this section of the creek that speak to invasive species, cottonwood trees, floodplain habitat and fish habitat.
Projects on Stoney Creek
Work on Stoney Creek started in 2013 with a watershed assessment. To date, there have been five major project areas worked on within the lower 5km of the river. Coastal GasLink has been a major funder that has enabled NEWSS to carry out this important rehabilitation work. Watch this VIDEO that summarizes the work completed on Stoney Creek in 2015 that was partially funded by Coastal GasLink.
Hover over the map for projects areas on Stoney Creek, and click to get project details.
Preliminary work was done on Stoney Creek in the fall of 2013. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans funded NEWSS to initiate a watershed health assessment in the Stoney Creek watershed. There are 49 crossings on Stoney Creek - of which 9 were assessed and 6 of those were considered barriers to fish. A total of 353 riparian buffers were analyzed and 77 of those were identified as problematic.
Soil sampling was carried out on September 4, 2014 on several sites along Stoney Creek. The samples were taken to measure metal levels in the soil. In a few cases, samples exceeded the Interim Sediment Quality Guidelines (ISQG). Click here to review the report, database and results of the sampling. The samples were taken by the Integrated Watershed Research Group at UNBC as part of the NEEF-funded project.
Confluence of Stoney Creek and Nechako River - Here the banks of Stoney Creek were eroding into the channel and the Nechako River at the Migratory Bird Sanctuary. This location is the one known breeding area of the endangered Nechako White Sturgeon. Restoration work included adding boulders and rip-rap to the channel banks to reduce erosion into Stoney Creek and the Nechako River.
During the Preliminary Assessment it was recommended to armour the east and west banks of Stoney Creek from the bridge footings north into the confluence to reduce erosion of fine materials into the Nechako River. At the confluence is the Nechako River Migratory Bird Sanctuary, the one known breeding area of the endangered Nechako White Sturgeon. Restoration work included adding boulders and rip-rap to the channel banks to reduce erosion into Stoney Creek and the Nechako River.
Sampling in 2013, as well as 2015 found Pacific lamprey at the mouth of Stoney Creek, in the Nechako River.
CN Railway Crossing
Three culverts under the CN Railway crossing on Stoney Creek were deemed impassible for fish. These culverts were replaced with a customized culvert to allow for fish passage. The project was conducted in the fall of 2015, with great success. The creek was diverted to complete the project to allow for an open work area. The railway was clossed for 16 hours to complete the project as the track had to be removed, along with the embankment.
An article about this project was featured in N2K magazine (published by Black Press). Click here to read the article.
Fish collection and salvage were large components of this project. After the installation of the new culvert, that allows fish to pass freely between upstream and downstream of the crossing, 63 Chinook salmon juveniles were caught upstream of the crossing. Below shows a fish collection table after the project was completed. Click on the table to enlarge.
At this site, the stream channel had minimal habitat for fish.
Restoration work completed here included the placement of logs and boulders within the
stream channel and on the banks to create
habitat for fish. The logs, also known as large
woody debris, create turbulence in the water
that slows down the flow thereby reducing the
amount of erosion along the stream banks.
At this section of Stoney Creek, the natural channel had virtually disappeared because of the accumulation of silt and debris from upstream stream bank erosion. The site is adjacent private property (Van Con) where the water from Stoney Creek had left the main channel. The shallow channel limits fish movement both up and downstream and provides no habitat for fish to spawn or rear.
Restoration work included re-establishing the main channel of Stoney Creek, adding substrate and large woody debris for fish habitat and stream flow regulation. The channel was dredged, rip-rap was added to the stream banks, and logs were anchored in place. The logs deflect water from the banks and provide habitat for fish. The river can now flow unobstructed.
This site is at a private road crossing near the L&M Lumber property within the District of Vanderhoof boundary. The three culverts at the crossing were obstructing the ability for fish to swim upstream because of excessive erosion of the stream banks and high sedimentation in the channel. The stream channel was filled in with sand and silt, making the stream wide and shallow. Material has been deposited at this site and along the entire stream from poor land practices. The land practices along Goldie Creek have also had an influence on Stoney Creek.
Restoration work removed sediment from the channel, added armouring to the stream banks to reduce future erosion and added fish habitat to the stream. Upstream of the culverts was dredged to create the channel again. Rip-rap (large substrate) and anchored logs were added to the new banks to reduce the risk of erosion and in filling of the stream channel again. A weir was built across the channel to help control stream flow. The culverts were removed to allow fish to move freely up and downstream.
During the summer of 2015, the first summer after the project was completed, a beaver established a dam across Stoney Creek just downstream of the bridge crossing. The influence of the beaver dam has held back water well upstream of the bridge. Click here to view some useful resources regarding beaver dam management.