The Cooper Bridge project was part of broader Cle Elum River floodplain restoration work. The goal was to protect and restore riparian habitat while accommodating appropriate recreational use in the very popular Cooper Bridge area. Dispersed campsites in this area were in close proximity to important fish habitat and in areas that are critical for proper functioning of the river. As a result, these areas were unable to accommodate flood events due to soil compaction, sediment loading, and a lack of woody debris. Continued habitat degradation due to unmanaged recreation was causing stress on the Cle Elum River bull trout as well as other species.
The project restored and redesigned three unmanaged recreation areas southeast of Cooper Bridge to block access to vulnerable areas and to delineate camping in a site southwest of the bridge. We moved campsites and parking areas away from the active floodplain of the Cle Elum River. With those removed, we created new sites and hardened existing sites on terraces above the floodplain. Next, we planted native vegetation along eroding stream banks to add bank stability and shade. We also subsoiled compacted soils in closed roads and campsites. Finally, barrier devices were installed to delineate desired site footprints.