There is no clearer example of what can happen when numerous agencies come together for a common cause than the lower portion of Clear Creek in southern Shasta County.
“This was a dump site,” explained Gary Diridoni, a Redding c (BLM) wildlife and fisheries biologist. Diridoni was on hand at a recent gathering at the Clear Creek gorge overlook, an area five miles to the west of Highway 273 that once housed drug dealers, transients and a multitude of garbage. “Loved ones were recommended to avoid the area.”
Through a joint effort consisting of local leaders and volunteers, the Lower Clear Creek Coordinated Resources Management and Planning (CRMP) group was formed, an agency that spanned the gap between activists, land owners and other community members that had one goal in mind: Restore Lower Clear Creek.
“Since 1998, restoration has taken place,” said Diridoni.
Today, the area is a beacon of beauty enjoyed by 50,000 visitors per year, all thanks to a multitude of agencies including: the California Department of Boating and Waterways, Shasta County Public Works, California Conservations Corps, the Bureau of Land Management, the City of Redding, Fish and Game, and Horsetown Clear Creek Preserve.
“This is an example of recreation through restorations,” said Diridoni.
And not just residents like it. The fish seem to love it, too. Prior to 1991, the baseline numbers for adult spawning fall-fun Chinook in Lower Clear Creek were 1,689. Those numbers have more than tripled thanks to a combination of gravel injection, “dam busting” and channel relocations.
“From 1992 to 2010,” said Diridoni, “escapement has averaged a count of 7,125 with a high of 16,000 fall-fun Chinook in 2004.”
And more recreation enhancements are planned.
“People are interested in good government,” said BLM State Director Jim Kenna. “This is a great example of that.”
Kenna was at the gorge overlook on Clear Creek Road as part of field tour, and by all accounts, seemed impressed by the interpretive learning center, numerous trails and local improvements – including shade from the hot, summer sun.
“It just goes to show you what’s possible,” he said. “If we all pool together, we can make bigger stuff happen. Budgets are tight, but that should cause us to work together more.”
In the case of Lower Clear Creek, the proof was in the stunning vistas enhanced by the cooperative effort.
“This is a great thing,” said Kenna.
It is, indeed.
If you’d like to visit the Lower Clear Creek area, take Highway 273 to Clear Creek Road.
Follow the signs to the gorge overlook which is approximately 5.1 miles west of 273.