U.S. Forest Forest Service crews have resumed work on the Bonanza stream restoration project.
The project is designed to restore about a mile of the Yankee Fork near historic Bonanza that was affected by dredge mining. It’s expected to improve the ability of the Yankee Fork to support Chinook salmon, steelhead and bull trout, all of which are listed as threatened species, Forest Service officials said.
Between 1940 and 1952, the Yankee Fork Dredge mined the Yankee Fork and the adjacent valley floor. The work altered the river and eliminated side channels, streamside vegetation and floodplains and left large piles of rock, gravel, and sand on the valley floor. That reduced the river’s ability to support fish. Although more than 60 years have passed since the dredging, the Yankee Fork has not reverted to its natural condition and can’t support fish. The ongoing work should help by eliminating some tailings and re-establishing natural stream channels, vegetation, and floodplains.
Restoration work started last year. The main phases of the project are expected to be completed next year. Last year work focused on removing about 100,000 cubic yards of surplus tailings, stockpiling soil and reconstructing the parking lot across from the Yankee Fork Dredge. This year work will focus on removing the remaining surplus tailings and constructing stream channels and floodplains.
While the project focuses on restoring fish habitat by eliminating the impacts of the dredge mining, about seven acres of tailings near the Yankee Fork Dredge are being left in place to help preserve the area’s mining history. Three new parking areas will be created near the dredge.