Yes, there is written record that it did dating back to the 1960’s, and likely occurred prior to that, which makes sense. For starters, WSDOT started digging gravel pits in the lower floodplain of Gold Creek as early as 1929 and logging took place starting in the 1940’s, both of which would contribute to dewatering (the creek going dry). Furthermore, dewatering during the summer months likely occurred historically since the amount of water in the creek is dependent on snowmelt. However, the length of time and physical extent of dewatering in the creek has increased as a result of human impacts.

1944 Aerial Photo1957 Aerial Photo

As mentioned above, the dewatering noted prior to the excavation of Gold Creek Pond occurred in a creek that was significantly altered from its historic condition, a result of clear-cut logging, mining and gravel extraction decades earlier. Logging and mining impacts created an overly wide channel that spread out water over the stream bed and caused it to go subsurface.

By 1970 the channel was on average 86% wider than it was pre-logging (prior to 1944). That’s nearly double the creek’s original width! Likewise, the excavation of gravel since 1929, including Gold Creek Pond, also intensified dewatering in Gold Creek by altering how groundwater moves across the valley floor.  The change in groundwater movement and channel size increased in the frequency and magnitude of dewatering events in the creek.

The effects of excavating Gold Creek Pond and the over-widened channel due to logging both contribute to annual dewatering in Gold Creek. In order to restore the creek, both of these impacts will need to be addressed. That is why an important component of this project is completing in-stream restoration.

Natural Systems Design, a firm that specializes in river restoration, has collected data, conducted modeling and developed an instream restoration design to restore the over widened channel and provide valuable instream habitat that is currently lacking. The Forest Service will conduct a NEPA analysis on restoring the stream to see what alternative will have the most positive impact for habitat restoration, and take into account any potential effects on human-use of the area.