Friends of the Van Duzen River
A Grass Roots community organization comprised of residents and visitors to the Van Duzen Region. We are Dedicated to helping to restore the river for future Generations

Wolverton Creek Project Report

On August 9th a stream team made a field visit to Wolverton Creek, a tributary to the Van Duzen River near Hydesville, CA. The purpose of the field visit was to look for local classroom monitoring project sites and to discuss how the community can participate in an assessment of the Wolverton Creek watershed. Working with the local landowner, Claude Young, the team consisted of the following people:

Jim Rizza: 7th/8th grade science teacher at Hydesville Elementary School
Chauncey Willburn: Senior at Fortuna High, Friends of the Creeks Program
Casey O'Day: Senior at Fortuna High, Friends of the Creeks Program
Steve Cannata: California Dept. of Fish and Game
Sal Steinberg: Friends of the Van Duzen
Chris Ramsey: Educational Coordinator, California Dept. of Fish and Game
Nick Simpson, graduate student Humboldt State University, Waste Water Management will also be joining the team.

Sal, Chauncy, and Jim.

Past History: Over the past decade, Jim Rizza has developed a working relationship with Claude Young whose property is located in Hydesville. His classes planted redwoods for soil stabilization. In 2003-2004, science teacher Ed Brenneman working with Humboldt State University using the Adopt a Watershed model participated in a classroom monitoring project at Wolverton Creek studying macroinvertebrates and investigating the health of the creek. The group in 2003-2004 found a very healthy stream system with lamphrey eels and good water quality. (See report)

Friends of the Van Duzen: For the past 5 years, Friends of the Van Duzen has been conducting water monitoring in the Van Duzen River Basin. Our efforts have concentrated on turbidity samples at sites along the main stem of the Van Duzen and in the following tributaries: Yager, Cummings, Hely, Fox Creek, and Grizzly Creek.

Present : Friends of the Van Duzen received a grant to study Wolverton Creek from the Clean Water Institute. The purpose of the grant is to analyze water quality, conduct fish and amphibian surveys, and to provide 7th/8th grade students with an on site quality science education learning about watersheds in the Adopt a Watershed model.

Field study observations August 9th:

The team crossed the creek on Claude's property and headed upstream. Many of the Redwood saplings planted by Jim Rizza's class had sufficiently grown and he and Chauncey removed some of the plastic coverings.
The group found a very inviting section of the creek for analysis. This section was "kid friendly" with space for various tests and room for an outdoor classroom.

Nice pools for classroom studies.

At one location, Steve Cannata pointed out a stream habitat feature called an undercut bank. Undercut banks are similar to a crevice that extends into the stream bank that fish can use to escape from predators or as protective resting areas. Under cut banks are common features in a healthy stream and require root masses from riparian trees and other vegetation to maintain stream bank cohesion and stability. during high winter flows.

This undercut bank indicates bank stability and a good place for fish.

The team returned to the crossing, walked downstream investigating a woody debris area, and discussing the importance of woody debris, the history of woody debris removal, and the migration of the salmon.

The team returned toward the house and walked across the field further downstream to another area for observation. Here we found larger amounts of fine sediment, tires which had been buried in fine sediment, and Chauncey found bracken ferns which can be an indication of poorer soils.

2nd site. Bracken ferns. Wide spot in channel. Why?

Reference Creek or not a Reference Creek : All creeks previously studied by classrooms and Friends of the Van Duzen have been impaired systems due to high levels of fine sediment and high turbidity. It was the intention of this study to find a reference creek, and to be able to do comparative analysis with other similar systems in the Van Duzen River Basin.

Recent timber harvest activity up stream during 2004-2005 may have had some impact on Wolverton Creek. We will try to have Ed Brenneman make a return trip to compare 2003 with the present.

FUTURE: We would like to make a coordinated effort to monitor the creek for turbidity, temperature, dissolved oxygen, ph, and sediment. We would like to conduct fish and amphibian studies to determine if this is still a salmonid bearing creek. We would like to conduct a macroinvertebrate analysis in two sections of the creek for key indicators of the health of the stream. We would like to analyze sediment samples and sizes of rocks.
The project has two major purposes. One intent is to provide watershed education for students who live on the Van Duzen River. We ask the students in an objective way, "What makes a healthy stream system? How should we observe and conduct analysis of a stream? How can we use this information to make predictions?
We intend to use a scientific approach with students out in the field under the guidance of professional scientists. This approach to learning expands awareness, trains students in scientific method, may spark their interest in future career options, and allows them to take an active part in stewardship and protection of the Van Duzen basin where they live. It is their habitat as well as the salmon, the salamanders, and the birds.
The other major purpose is to collect systematic data throughout the Van Duzen River Basin, and to use this data to analyze tributaries and the system as a whole. The Wolverton Creek project will serve as a collaborative model for a scientific team approach. If successful, this model will be used to study other sites including Cummings Creek, Fox Creek, Hely Creek, and Grizzly Creek. Future grants will be written using this approach.

Two staff plates will be installed to measure the water flow. Access to designated sites may be cut off following winter rains. The lower staff plate will be visible from the field. It is our intention that follow up studies could be done in Spring.

Jim Rizza will schedule a series of dates for field studies between September and January. He will be retiring in January and passing the project off to his successor. Sal Steinberg and Chauncey Willburn will coordinate a set of weekend dates for analysis with other volunteers from the community.

DATA: All information will be distributed to agencies. Data and pictures will be posted on the Web Page at

Friends of the Van Duzen River
PO Box 315
Carlotta, CA 95528
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