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Education at Triple Creek

Site History  Restoration Approach  Riparian Buffer  Education  Triple Creek Team

Education is an important component of the Triple Creek project. We are involving community members of all ages -- including restoration practitioners -- in the restoration and monitoring of the project, as well as opportunities to learn about the natural history of the site.

October 2018 Update:

OHA and Trout Unlimited will co-present at the upcoming joint regional conference in Spokane, "Restoring Resilient Communities in Changing Landscapes" ( We are scheduled for 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday, October 17th and our presentation is called, "Stick with it: Using Beaver Dam Analogs at Triple Creek to Set a Course for Watershed Resilience." You can register for one day or for the whole conference if you are interested. 

Abstract for the presentation:

What does watershed resilience look like in the Intermountain West? Probably much like it did before western expansion and trapping decimated North American beaver populations in the nineteenth century. The Triple Creek Project near Chesaw, Washington is a case in point for harnessing the power of beaver dam analogs (BDAs) to restore a heavily-incised stream channel and a degraded wet meadow ecosystem. In just two years, BDAs have jumpstarted ecological recovery at Triple Creek by inducing hydraulic and biological changes supporting natural beaver recolonization and floodplain reconnection. BDAs are reducing stream velocities, widening and lengthening the stream channel, and causing rapid streambed aggradation (1 – 5ft in the first two years alone). These geomorphic changes aid beavers in their floodplain engineering feats, improve instream habitat for native fish, and provide the hydrologic support for wetland and riparian revegetation efforts. Project monitoring combines ground- and surface-water elevation monitoring with annual topographic surveys and comprehensive photo monitoring to observe ecosystem response over time. Lessons learned range from BDA construction techniques to structure redundancy and adaptive management. BDAs, beaver, and their ability to reconnect floodplains and improve hydrologic storage enhance watershed resilience in the face of a changing climate where droughts, catastrophic fires, stream temperature spikes, and large flood events are becoming increasingly common. The combination of BDA installation, immediate natural beaver recolonization, revegetation efforts, landowner willingness, community outreach, and youth education has resulted in a process-based, holistic approach at Triple Creek that provides a useful model for other BDA projects throughout the region.

Crystal Elliot-Perez (Trout Unlimited) and Julie Vanderwal (Okanogan Highlands Alliance)

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In the spring of 2016, students from the Tonasket Outreach Program were invited to participate in Triple Creek restoration project. During the field trip, a group of 23 students of all ages, and six adult volunteers came out to the site and helped with planting trees and shrubs, building perches for birds of prey, taking photos to monitor the site, and participating in educational activities that illustrated the connections between producers and consumers in the web of life. 

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Participation at Triple Creek offers a bounty of ongoing learning experiences for the students of Outreach. Their classroom teacher, Sonja, has been leading students in research on riparian buffer zones. Grades 3-6 have been learning about photo monitoring, and helping to organize documentation of the project. They have also been able to celebrate the return of beaver to the creek! There will be a variety of opportunities for students of all ages to be involved throughout the school year, culminating in a return field trip in the spring. At that time students will observe major changes that have occurred in the stream since their previous visit. They will see the instream structures that OHA and our team have constructed, and the ways in which these structures have mimicked beaver dams. 

This exposure offers valuable insight into multiple facets of science and study. They have been introduced to various fields and disciplines that can inspire and expand their opportunities for the future, including wildlife biology, watershed ecology, botany, geology, and field studies. They are learning about data collection and analysis, record keeping, wildlife photography, and the scientific method of observation. By maintaining connectivity throughout this process we are encouraging an ongoing relationship with these local ecosystems that will last beyond the memory of a single field trip, and encourage stewardship in our future generations.