BACKGROUND: Currently, a 50-foot wide by 10- to 13-foot-high concrete chute replaces the natural Little Goose Creek in downtown Sheridan. All or portions of the chute may be removed to allow for a more natural stream bed, floodplain connection, native vegetation plantings, improved habitat for aquatic species, improved fish passage, and restored natural connection between the upstream and downstream areas. Recreation measures may also be developed to enhance the benefits to the community. The Sponsor has considered a potential removal of 1st Street as an alternative to remove concrete and widen the channel to restore the creek and maintain the current level of flood protection; This alternative along with others not listed will be analyzed further as part of the General Investigation Study.
The city of Sheridan, a non-Federal sponsor, is partnering with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, on a study to review of the Sheridan Flood Control Project constructed in the 1960s to address fish passage and ecosystem restoration opportunities for the Little Goose Creek channel. The feasibility cost sharing agreement (FCSA) was signed July 26, 2022.
Flood control activities such as channel deepening, widening, realigning, and lining have altered the physical, biological, and chemical processes characteristic of a healthy stream transitioning away from the mountains. Historically, the Goose Creek watershed was a viable cold water fishery home to native cutthroat trout. Today, problems associated with the degraded in-stream aquatic environment include lack of channel sinuosity, loss of riffle pool complexes, lack of shading, poor depth diversity, poor refuge habitat for fish, and lack of aquatic vegetation. Migratory pathways for fish from Goose Creek to Little Goose Creek and Big Goose Creek have been significantly affected by construction of the concrete lined channel and drop structure, respectively. Problems associated with the poor riparian and wetland habitat adjacent to the creeks include lack of natural connection with the floodplain, lack of native herbaceous and woody vegetation, and lack of wetland hydrology.
Construction of a flood risk management (FRM) project by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and city of Sheridan in 1966 along the system of creeks in Sheridan has adversely impacted ecosystem processes, which has resulted in degradation of the quality of aquatic stream habitat, floodplain habitats, and has significantly impaired migratory pathways for fish. Major features of the existing flood risk management project consist of levees, channel alterations, a concrete chute, and a concrete drop structure. The flood risk management project provides flood risk management for downtown and large residential and commercial areas along the creeks. A constraint for this study is that ecosystem restoration recommendations must not change the level of existing flood risk management. This aquatic ecosystem restoration feasibility study is needed to restore degraded aquatic habitats for fish and wildlife, including trout fisheries, which will improve the quality of the environment along those streams in the vicinity of Sheridan.
The next steps in the feasibility study are developing ecosystem restoration measures collaboratively with input from the city of Sheridan, local and state resource agencies, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Take a look at the current Section 1135 Sheridan project in construction: https://www.nwo.usace.army.mil/Missions/Civil-Works/Planning/Planning-Projects/Sheridan-WY/
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