The Bad and the Good in Valley Creek

This post was started in the first days of July after the June floods had subsided, in the hope that there would be respite from the storms. No such luck, as a couple of inches of rain on July 11 th brought Valley Creek nearly three feet over flood stage. Not as severe an impact as last month’s seven feet, fortunately, so we are going to continue the originally planned optimistic outlook of this post!

The Conservancy creek-side Preserves were beginning to recover. Volunteers have been checking the flood plain and clearing the trails, and the other day we came across a couple of notable features in Valley Creek Preserve.

Our recent blog post covered the effect of the flood on our recently planted trees; the photo above shows why those new trees are so important. The floods brought down a large box elder that had been guarding the left bank of Valley Creek where it enters the north of the Preserve.

The tree fell completely across the creek and took out a large chunk of the bank with its root ball. Over the years, we expect that our new and diverse native trees will replace (and multiply!) the reinforcing, shading, food and habitat functions of that tree.

In the short term, the tree fall did of course send a lot of sediment downstream and will lead to more erosion as the creek finds its way around the blockage, but the news is not all bad. The flood plain is a dynamic place, and changes bring opportunity. For example, the creek’s naturally-reproducing brown trout now have a new set of eddies and backwaters where they can hold comfortably and pick over the food carried in the faster currents. If trouble comes (eg a visit from one of our majestic great blue herons or energetic belted kingfishers), the trout can instantly dart under cover.

But there are other forces that may tempt the trout into the open. A little downstream of the tree fall we photographed Preserve neighbor and long time stalwart Conservancy volunteer, Dennis Nackord, casting his fly. “The creek has changed a lot over the decades, said Dennis.

“Conditions are perfect right now”. He is one of many avid fishermen/women who treasure the state-designated (and Conservancy-protected!) Exceptional Value creek so close to dense development.

Dennis not only enjoys the rich habitat and beauty of the Preserve, he also maintains the trail leading to and around the warm-season grass meadow in the center of the Preserve. The wide mowed trail allows visitors of all interests and abilities the opportunity for a country walk to enjoy the Preserve, its flora and fauna, and its vistas up to Diamond Rock hill.

So, if you are an early riser in Valley Creek Preserve and come across Dennis mowing the trails or casting for trout, please say “Hi!” and pass on your appreciation for his years of care for the Preserve.