Nez Perce Tribe

Department of Fisheries Resources Management


Newsome Creek Watershed

Newsome Creek and its tributaries encompass approximately 42,576 acres within the South Fork of the Clearwater River. This watershed has a very high habitat potential for both anadromous and resident fish with spawning occurring in the upper reaches and providing important sub-adult/adult rearing habitat for fish in the lower section (USDA Forest Service, 1998).

Aquatic processes and conditions have been altered from historic levels, primarily the stream/riparian and sediment regimes. The Newsome area has had a considerable amount of management activities within its boundaries. Most of the mainstem channel, and some tributaries, have had historic mining that negatively affected stream and riparian processes. Unfortunately, most of these impacts occurred in the lower gradient sections, which provide the best habitat for spawning and rearing. 

The end result of the dredging was to convert extremely complex aquatic ecosystems into simplified, unproductive, confined stream channels (USDA Forest Service, 1998). By the 1960’s more than 24 million cubic yards of material, along 30 miles of stream had been dredged in the subbasin. These activities have altered the riparian area by destroying the canopy and placing tailing piles within that previously vegetated area. These areas are not revegetating. Additionally, a road parallels the mainstem and encroaches upon the stream/riparian processes in sections. 

Within the watershed’s uplands there has been about 8,000 acres of timber harvest that has created 220 miles of transportation roads (USDA Forest Service, 1998). These 220 miles constitute to 3.3 miles of road per square mile, which gives it a high road density according to the 1992 Nez Perce National Forest (NPNF) coarse filter watershed condition analysis. This analysis considered watershed sensitivity, disturbance indicators, and the condition of streams relative to Forest Plan objectives (USDA Forest Service, 1998).

The current modeled sediment yield within the watershed is 13% over natural base. The basic pattern is that the sediment peaks resulting from wildfire are of similar magnitude as the development era peaks, but that the chronic sediment yield between peaks has been progressively increasing since roading began. 

Newsome Creek is a very high priority for restoration within the South Fork Clearwater subbasin because of its high potential aquatic productivity, intact aquatic assemblages, and current conditions and processes affected by past management activities. Past management activities have most significantly affected sediment regimes as a result of road building and mining. In addition, in-stream and near-stream activities have affected channel morphology, cover, and habitat complexity. Mining, livestock grazing, road construction, timber harvest, and removal of large wood have contributed to altered habitat conditions. More subtle alteration of the complexity of aquatic habitat at the landscape scale has been caused by fire exclusion and timber harvest. 

Project Staff

stephanieb@nezperce.orgStephanie BransfordProject Leader06(208) 983-0675

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