05 March 2016

Gordon Creek Restoration Project, Cherry County

A partnership project along Gordon Creek in central Cherry county has restored historic channel features with a benefit to adjacent wetlands.

The project is located near Aljo Hill and on the Spikebox Ranch, a Sandhills Ranch property owned by R.E. Turner. Other partners in the already completed project were the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission, Sandhills Task Force and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Natural Resources Conservation Service did the delineation of wetlands and established design details.

The project evaluation and design and overall consultation by partners occurred during a twenty month period, with official consent signatures by the landowner and agencies occurring during the latter part of 2014, according to primary specifics available within an Army Corps of Engineers document, as received through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The work reverted the creek from its channelized condition to its original, historic channel with its meanders, permanent flow and adjacent wetlands.

The project involved waterway meanders and length, increasing 5750 feet of Gordon Creek to a length of 42,300 feet, by placing 22,456 cubic yards of fill into existing channel to redirect the water flow into the historic channel alignment, as well as excavating 16,920 cubic yards of material within the historic channel to facilitate water flow. Existing drainage ditches were also filled, with berms placed where needed. Stream crossings for vehicles were also changed.

A grade stabilization structure was also built at the eastern end of the project to inhibit stream-bed degradation. Concrete block mat and turf reinforcing mat was also installed for ground stabilization purposes.

The indicated project cost was $215,000. Funding sources were $100,000 from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission through a state wildlife grant received from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; $60,000 from the Sandhills Task Force as provided through a grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust; $40,000 from landowner R.E. (Ted) Turner; and, $15,000 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Monitoring reports are required through 2020 to ensure that goals stated in the Corps of Engineers permit are met. A permit for project construction was issued in June, 2015 after Section 404 consultation with the Sandhills Ranch Properties of Turner Enterprises, Inc. The NGPC submitted the permit application.

Additional FOIA requests for project details as submitted in mid-January to the Natural Resources Conservation Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have not resulted in receiving any project documentation from either agency, as of March 1st.