Project Name: Sheridan Ecosystem Restoration Project
Location: Sheridan, Wyoming
Authority: Section 1135 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986
Sponsor: City of Sheridan
Current Phase: Feasibility
The city of Sheridan (non-federal sponsor) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Omaha District) are partnering on a project to improve aquatic, wetland and riparian habitat along Goose Creek and its two largest tributaries, Little Goose Creek and Big Goose Creek, in Sheridan, Wyoming.
In 1963, construction of the Sheridan flood control project was completed under the authority of the Flood Control Act of 1950. The project, designed to protect the city from Goose Creek and Little Goose Creek flood discharges, consists of levees, drainage structures, concrete chutes and drop structures, and channel alterations. Although the flood control project is operating as intended, the ecosystem in the vicinity of the project has become severely degraded.
In September 2014, the Sheridan City Council approved an agreement to partner with the Corps on a feasibility study to evaluate possible ecosystem restoration solutions along the creeks. The feasibility study is being conducted under Section 1135 of the Water Resources Development Act of 1986. This authority allows the Corps to modify existing Corps projects for improvement of the environment. During the feasibility phase, the Corps will ask the public for its input on the project and conduct a variety of detailed environmental, economic, and engineering analyses to develop possible solutions to restore the creeks. The feasibility phase is expected to last approximately three years.
The study area is divided into four primary reaches:
- Little Goose Creek Reach – Begins near Sheltered Acres Park and ends in downtown Sheridan just upstream of the concrete-lined channel near an old railroad bridge in the general area of Broadway Street and A Street.
- Big Goose Creek Reach – Extends from Kendrick Park to the confluence with Little Goose Creek at Mill Park.
- Downtown Reach – Encompasses roughly four blocks of the Little Goose Creek through downtown Sheridan, beginning near Broadway Street and extending west to the confluence with Big Goose Creek at Mill Park.
- Goose Creek Reach – Extends from the confluence of Little Goose Creek and Big Goose Creek at Mill Park to the north to Highway 337 (Fort Road).
There are several objectives for the project including (1) restoring stream and hydraulic function (including sediment transport and health) in a physical and ecological manner throughout the entire project area, (2) providing for fish passage and restoring in-stream habitat connectivity throughout the system, and (3) restoring wetland, riparian and floodplain habitats and connectivity with upstream and downstream reaches in the vicinity of the flood control system.
A secondary objective of the project is to transform the concrete chute area into a recreational amenity and create connectivity with other recreational features in Sheridan. Recreational features must be compatible with the ecosystem restoration measures.
There are several factors that the Omaha District will need to consider as it moves forward with developing solutions. First, the function of the existing flood control system must be maintained. Second, any modifications to the existing flood control project must follow the guidelines of the existing operation and maintenance manual, including specifications related to the types of vegetation that may be planted within the channel.
Project Update: The Omaha District, in partnership with the city of Sheridan, will hold a ceremony to sign a project partnership agreement to restore approximately four miles of degraded habitat along the Goose Creeks in Sheridan, Wyoming. The ceremony will take place on Tuesday, May 14, 2019, starting at approximately 10:30 a.m. MDT at the Sheltered Acres Park picnic area, 1455 Emerson Street. The agreement, which will be signed by Col. John Hudson, Omaha District Commander, and Sheridan Mayor Roger Miller, marks the transition of the project from the planning phase to the design and construction phase.