Low gravel islands serve several important purposes in a river like the Touchet. They divide the flow into channels, slowing down the water on either side and decreasing the likelihood of catastrophic floods. They also create small eddies where insects, invertebrates, and small plants make their homes, and where larger animals like fish and birds can rest and feed. However, diking and construction can interfere with the water level and submerge the gravel islands entirely. That’s why a Dayton landowner and Blue Mountain Land Trust created a 35-acre easement along both sides of the Touchet River to protect a meander with several important gravel bars.
The owner of the land has fenced off 100 feet on either side of the creek. Beyond this fence, no changes, save planting for conservation, are allowed, leaving the Touchet River to shape the riverbanks. Outside the fence, the property remains productive and the owner will plant wheat, graze cattle, and keep bees. The river, gravel bars, woods, and floodplains on this easement are home to salmon, steelhead, great blue heron, opossum, osprey, wild turkey, whitetail deer, and geese.