SHERIDAN — The city of Sheridan, in conjunction with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, will now begin a project discussed in several public meetings over the span of several years. Goose Creek in Sheridan will have improved aquatic, wetland and riparian habitat after the creek was rerouted in certain areas to help prevent flooding.
In 1963, construction of the Sheridan flood control project was completed under the authority of the Flood Control Act of 1950, according to a press release by the Corps.
The project added levees, drainage structures, concrete chutes, drop structures and channel alterations.
“Although the flood control project is operating as intended, the ecosystem in the vicinity of the project has become severely degraded,” the press release read.
The Corps started a feasibility study for the city in September 2014 to evaluate possible ecosystem restoration solutions along the creeks and finished in February 2018.
The feasibility report and environmental assessment executive summary indicated a total of $6,620,000 for project implementation with shared costs for the project.
The assessment said the flood control activities altered the physical, biological and chemical processes characteristic of a healthy stream transitioning away from the mountains.
“Historically, the Goose Creek watershed was a viable cold water fishery home to native cutthroat trout,” the assessment read. “Today, problems associated with the degraded in-stream aquatic environment include lack of channel sinuosity, loss of riffle pool complexities, lack of shading, poor depth diversity, poor refuge habitat for fish and lack of aquatic vegetation.”
Ecosystem restoration measures were developed collaboratively with input from the city of Sheridan, local and state resource agencies and the Corps.
In-stream restoration measures consist of habitat structures to benefit the aquatic environment and fish habitat and stream modifications to allow for improved fish passage, according to the study. Riparian restoration measures consist of wetland habitat restoration adjacent to the creeks. After consideration of 46 alternatives, a recommended plan of 11 in-stream restoration alternatives and six riparian restoration alternatives were considered.
The recommended ecosystem restoration plan calls for placement of rock habitat structures in the creeks, modification to the drop structure and excavation, grading and seeding.
The Corps policy also allows for recreation features to be planned with ecosystem restoration. With those planned, the Corps intend to include 2,200 feet of trails with new access to the creek, two interpretive educational signs and one bench near the proposed trails. The trail will connect to existing facilities.
The cost breakdown from the $6,620,000 total is as follows:
• $4,879,500 is the federal portion
• $1,740,500 is the non-federal portion
The non-federal funds will be divided into two parts:
• $804,500 in cash
• $936,000 in land, easement, rights-of-way, relocation and disposal costs
The estimated average annual costs are:
• $63,835 for operations, maintenance, repair, replacement and rehabilitation for ecosystem restoration
• $8,165 for recreation
After a meeting hosted by the Corps in Sheridan in 2017, Mayor Roger Miller said ahead of that budget session that the city may be able to fund it.
The agreement between the Corps and the city, signed May 14, transitions the project from the planning phase to design and construction phases.