Paradise Creek Ecosystem Restoration Project Moves Forward

Wednesday, June 24 2009


June 24, 2009

Note to media: Electronic versions of project renderings are available upon request. 

MOSCOW, Idaho – The University of Idaho and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Walla Walla District, today signed a project partnership agreement to move forward with a long-awaited Paradise Creek Ecosystem Restoration project.

Design work will now begin on the project, which includes new channel construction and development of access pathways for a portion of the creek that runs through the University of Idaho campus. Restoration would improve in-stream habitat, rebuild a continuous habitat corridor and improve wildlife habitat along the identified sections of Paradise Creek.

"We've been looking at this project for more than a decade as part of the university's long-range campus development plan," said Brian Johnson, assistant vice president of facilities at the University of Idaho. "It not only includes environmental improvements, but also provides flood control and storm water management."

The flow of Paradise Creek through the north campus neighborhood on the University of Idaho campus was rerouted in the early 1900s and was covered by the Paradise Creek Street conveyance in the 1960s. The creek now enters a fully enclosed concrete channel at Line Street for approximately 1,100 feet before resurfacing west of Rayburn Street. Within the covered portion of the channel, 17 storm water collection pipes discharge directly into the creek carrying untreated runoff and spring water from approximately 126 acres of the University of Idaho campus.

The proposed project includes diverting the creek at the existing debris-trapping screen located just upstream of Line Street and constructing some 2,100 feet of new channel. The new channel alignment – which is close to the location of the creek as document in aerial sketches dated 1897 – will be routed north along the east side of Line Street to Third Street, and then north and west adjacent to Idaho State Route 8, which is commonly referred to as the Moscow/Pullman Highway.

It would then tie into the existing Paradise Creek channel. The new segment would include gentle channel meanders and riparian vegetation, improving the habitat and aesthetics of the creek, and enhancing its ability to provide water quality treatment. An access and maintenance path also would be created along the creek.

The aquatic ecosystem restoration of Paradise Creek as it flows through the university's campus is extremely important. Currently, the City of Moscow is under state and federal mandates regarding water quality and temperature in the creek. Restoring this significant portion of the creek to a more natural channel condition and creating a sustainable riparian habitat will assist the city tremendously in meeting those mandates. The project also will assist the community in the remediation of flood events and help provide a greater capacity for flood flow.

"This project is a great example of what partnerships can achieve," said Margie McGill, project manager for the Walla Walla District. "The long term goals of the university for Paradise Creek are a great match for the restoration goals of the Section 206 program and the Corps could not ask for a better institution to co-sponsor with."

This work will provide future research opportunities and student learning experiences in bioremediation strategies for storm water run-off, planning, bioregional planning, landscape architecture, and long-term study of impacts and riparian habitats. Three academic colleges, along with the university's Waters of the West interdisciplinary program, Sustainability Center and the Idaho Water Resources Research Institute, have indicated interest in partnering on research efforts and student-learning opportunities. The university also would collaborate with the Moscow-based Palouse-Clearwater Environmental Institute.

The total project cost for stream and riparian restoration with contingencies is $6.691 million, including real estate costs. The project is to be implemented under the auspices of Section 206 of the 1996 Water Resources Development Act, which provides authority for the Corps to restore degraded aquatic ecosystems. It allows for the investment of up to $5 million in federal funds, to be matched by a sponsoring agency – in this case the university – by a 65/35 percent ratio.

Earlier this spring, the Corps announced that $3.813 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will be used for the project. This will be added to a Federal Earmark Appropriation of $50,000 that was invested in FY2008, for a total project amount of $3.863 million. The value of the land to be dedicated to the project, set at $2.342 million, constitutes the University of Idaho's 35 percent contribution.

The federal government previously has invested some $486,000 in the project. This includes Federal Earmark Appropriations in the amounts of $195,000 in FY06 specific to the university, and $291,000 in federal funding appropriation allocated by the Corps. These funds allowed the Corps to complete the first two assessment and feasibility phases of their process.

The University of Idaho Board of Regents gave the project the green light at its June 18 board meeting.

The Paradise Creek Ecosystem Restoration project coordinates with the state-funded extension of Stadium Drive on the University of Idaho campus that is currently in design. That project – a collaboration of the Idaho Transportation Department, the university and the City of Moscow – will extend Stadium Drive from its intersection with Paradise Creek Street north to State Highway 8. It includes construction of a new traffic signal and two new bridges, and will address walking, bicycle and automobile traffic flow.
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About the University of Idaho
Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s flagship higher-education institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year; the University of Idaho is the only institution in the state to earn the prestigious Carnegie Foundation ranking for high research activity. The university’s student population includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars. Offering more than 150 degree options in 10 colleges, the university combines the strengths of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. For information, visit www.uidaho.edu

Media Contacts: Joni Kirk, University of Idaho Communications, (208) 885-7725, joni@uidaho.edu; or Joseph Saxon, Walla Walla Corps of Engineers Public Information Officer, (509) 527-7015, Joseph.B.Saxon@usace.army.mil



About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit www.uidaho.edu.