Swaner Nature Preserve East Canyon Creek Restoration Project

swanertreesSwaner Nature Preserve encompasses 1,200 acres of open space in the Snyderville Basin area. Approximately 1.5 miles of the East Canyon Creek flows through the Preserve on the north side of I-80. This section of the creek is the focus of a stream restoration project which started in the spring of 2005. East Canyon Creek is named on Utah's List of Impaired Waterbodies because of its low level of dissolved oxygen and high level of phosphorus. Other restoration issues include excessive sediment, high water temperatures, excessive macrophyte growth, and the absence of woody riparian vegetation. The stream restoration plan designed to address these problems includes stabilizing 3,000 feet of eroding stream banks, planting 1,400 riparian trees and shrubs, and planting approximately 10,000 to 20,000 willow cuttings. The plan will be implemented over a five-year period.

In order to stabilize the stream banks, revetments are being placed along the banks of the stream. The Preserve is using recycled conifer Christmas trees in the revetments. Since 2005, the Park City Lacrosse Organization (a boys and girls high school-aged club that uses fundraisers to pay for uniforms and tournament expenses), has gathered approximately 500 Christmas trees for the preserve, which would have been chipped or ended up in the landfill had they not been saved for this project. The trees were anchored into the banks in order to deflect the water away from the bank and back into the center of the channel. The trees will also reduce the water’s velocity and help sediment settle between the branches. As sediment is deposited, the trees will decompose and new vegetation will take their place. Willow cuttings will be planted within and above the revetments in the hopes that they will establish roots, which will stabilize the bank.

In addition to placing revetments, this project includes extensive plantings. In 2005 the Preserve planted 130 riparian trees and shrubs to provide cover for the stream. This will help lower stream temperatures and limit light penetration, which in turn will limit macrophyte growth. The macrophytes and other aquatic vegetation are the cause of the low dissolved oxygen content in the creek. The trees and shrubs will also absorb some of the phosphorus and further limit macrophyte growth. Since 2005, the Preserve has planted 3000 willows along the banks, which will eventually provide fish cover and improve fish habitat.

The lack of quality fish habitat in the creek is also a concern to the Preserve. In September 2005 an in-stream structure called a Cross Vane was installed in the creek. The structure is composed of boulder size rocks in the shape of a horseshoe. The curve of the cross vane points upstream and extends across the stream channel. The function of the structure is to focus the power of the water into the center of the stream channel. This creates a scour pool and feeding lane for fish. It also reduces the sheer stress on the downstream banks and helps minimize bank erosion.

Everything is affected by everything else when it comes to stream habitats. This project will serve as a demonstration to other landowners along East Canyon Creek of what can be done to help reestablish this stream as a productive fishery and as a beautiful and valuable resource for the Snyderville Basin. If you would like to become involved please contact Swaner Nature Preserve at 435.649.1767 or email .

Project Photos


Cross Vane Structure, looking downstream
Cross Vane Structure, looking upstream

Volunteers installing conifer revetments with help from Russ Lawrence from the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.
Re-vegetated banks along East Canyon Creek