There are two restoration projects underway on Silver Creek, both of which aim to remove silt and reduce soaring summertime water temperatures. The first project which has taken place on the Purdy Pond below Kilpatrick Bridge began in October and is now close to completion. The second is upstream of the bridge on the Silver Creek Preserve and began work in January.
There are two main objectives of the Pond project- first to remove silt and second to replace the dam thats restricting downstream silt transport. The bulk of work has been completed on the Purdy Pond. One hundred-plus years of backed up silt has been contained into islands within the pond. What’s resulted is an entirely new footprint for the famed fly fishing destination. Gone is the large open space of shallow water with feet of soft-silt bottom, and in it’s place is a network of islands separated by what (once filled) will be deep, cold water.
The islands, which are lined with many rocks and boulders were constructed of silt material that had accumulated behind an irrigation dam. For over a century, this restricted water has provided irrigation for the farmers and ranchers of the Picabo community.
The dam has been replaced by a custom engineered structure, designed to not only facilitate fish passage, but also pass the coolest water from the bottom of the pond. The new design aims to rejuvenate miles of lower Silver Creek, historically a cold water fishery.
There is a great deal of public access in the miles of Silver Creek below the Dam and the RR Ranch. In the past, summertime water temperatures increased by as much as 10 degrees after leaving the pond, making this downstream section of river a noticeably less productive trout fishery during warmer summer months.
Back up in the new shorelines of the pond, the newly dredged channels and creation of islands have not only increased the water depth (8-10 feet in some areas) but also created hundreds of yards of new shoreline- areas that will become sheltered and productive areas for both anglers and fish.
Construction is now well underway upstream of Kilpatrick bridge on the Nature Conservancy’s Silver Creek Preserve. A deeper channel and expanded wetlands are main objectives of this project which is scheduled for a 2015 completion, although fishing will remain open throughout the 2014 season.