A Work in Progress-Bonaparte Creek

Photos by Dwight Burton and Kelly Kinney

by Craig Nelson

Several years in the making, success came when the Okanogan Conservation District partnered with Whitestone Cattle Company to relocate a livestock corral and winter feeding area from the banks of Bonaparte Creek. Riparian plantings and other bank stabilization structures were also implemented to reduce erosion. The District used funding from multiple sources to reimburse the landowner and his contractor for moving the corral and installing the erosion control practices.

The project began in 2005, as the Okanogan Conservation District submitted a grant application to the Washington Department of Ecology to address elevated fecal coliform and sediment levels in Bonaparte Creek. Fundraising success enabled Conservation District staff to then work with private landowners to develop a plan to reduce sediment and coliform.

As an outcome of the planning process, the Whitestone Cattle Company landowner contacted the District about his idea for moving the corrals and implementing conservation best management practices to reduce erosion from the banks of Bonaparte Creek, where it flowed through his property. The District worked with the landowner and other agencies to plan, design, fund and install the best practices in 2009.

The Okanogan Conservation District staff served as the project coordinator. Other technical assistance partners included the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Kittitas County Conservation District, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Washington Department of Transportation. Funding partners included Washington State Department of Ecology, USDI Bureau of Land Management, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Priest Rapids Coordinating Committee, and the Upper Columbia Regional Fisheries Enhancement Group.

Continuity of staff at the Okanogan Conservation District proved a significant challenge. Through the life of the core Washington Department of Ecology grant the District has employed four different project managers. This has extended the project, as partners and District staff have had to learn to work with each other several times.

The full impact of the best practices implementation will not be known for several years. However, the removal of the livestock corals that were adjacent to Bonaparte Creek will reduce inputs of fecal coliform, sediment, and nutrients from the creek. Further, the practices installed to control erosion will reduce sediment loading in Bonaparte Creek which is a high priority for local resource agencies.

Craig Nelson is District Manager of the Okanogan Conservation District. www.okanogancd.org