Trout Unlimited Recommendations for Coldwater Creek in North Ogden

In and Out of Water Coldwater Creek
Photo Credit: Chad Roylance

From Paul Burnett:

I met with several members of the community near Coldwater Creek. I didn’t catch all of their names but we were hosted by Duayne Richards at his house initially. We assessed the creek at the Alexander’s house then walked along Coldwater Creek downstream of 150 E along the pathway. We also looked at the area along 1900 N. where apparently a number of patio homes will be built adjacent to the creek. Based on my observations today I have the following recommendations.

General Observations

Waterways are important components of our communities and if managed well, they can provide incredible assets to the neighborhoods that they run through.

  • The riparian areas (trees and plants next to the stream) create their own ecological systems. They help maintain cooler temperatures in the summer and provide unique habitat for wildlife. These oasis areas can also create places for people to gather. The treed area along the neighborhood west of 150 East is really nice, but could use some TLC. The trees, are either Black Willow or Crack Willow. They are exotic species that are so competitive that they push everything else out. They are an asset, and could be managed in a way that provides a broader diversity of benefits. 
  • Coldwater Creek is an incredibly unique asset to the community because it supports trout. There are very few urban waterways along the Wasatch Front that sustain trout. However it has clearly been encroached upon. It flows within 20 feet of houses, which is extremely close and puts the waterway at risk to pollution from dumping, herbicides and garbage. 
  • The construction of the retirement community and the neighborhood didn’t do a great job of reclaiming the creek. From what I can tell from research with the Utah Division of Water Rights, they never applied for or received a stream alteration permit through the Utah Division of Water Rights. As a result much of banks along Coldwater Creek behind the homes along 150 East are full of noxious weeds. 
  • I followed the stream channel entirely to the fish hatchery on Google Earth. Unfortunately Coldwater Creek has been buried in pipe in several locations. There are places where the creek could be daylighted, and these may eventually be really valuable projects for the city. However, the key strategy right now should be protection and enhancement of existing open channels. 
  • The Road Crossing at 1900 N is not fish passable. This means that fish cannot move between reaches of stream. Fish movement is important if they are going to self sustain. 

Proactive Steps North Ogden City can take to protect Coldwater creek from further encroachment and degradation.

  • Protect the remaining stream corridors with a 50 foot building setback. This guarantees that a healthy stream corridor will be protected.
  • Extend the pedestrian pathway along waterways with a setback of at least 20-30 feet to allow a panoramic perspective of the stream, and allow natural stream processes to occur.  
  • Ensure that any proposed developments that alter the stream channel are permitted through Utah Division of Water Rights. The administrative rule states that any activity within 30 feet of a stream channel should be permitted. 
  • Protect water quality in Coldwater Creek by treating runoff and stormwater with artificial wetlands or stormwater finishing areas. Ogden City has built several of these along the Ogden River and they work phenomenally well in limiting the amount of stormwater pollution that enters the river.
  • Don’t allow a dog park in an area that is going to drain directly into the creek.
  • I believe the City has secured a PL-566 watershed grant for an irrigation retention basin. If it isn’t too late, it would be worthwhile to try to add natural drainage system improvements into that grant.

Actions that the community can take

  • Work with the City Council to develop a stream management plan for Coldwater Creek. Develop a map of the entire stream, and identify opportunities for restoration and enhancement as a community group.
  • Conduct a stream temperature study (TU can help with this). 
    • At a minimum purchase three temperature loggers
    • Downstream of Washington BLVD
    • @ 150 East
    • Near Hunting Creek dr
    • It would be beneficial to collect temperature data along the entire stream length
  • Work with organizations like Weber Pathways to secure a grant to improve the pedestrian pathway along the creek. This could be an incredible asset to the neighborhood by developing a more formal pathway. Roadbase is sufficient, and will formalize the look. 
    • The treed area is kind of a barrier between neighbors to the north and neighbors to the south. Consider working with the city to develop a pedestrian bridge over the creek off the cul de sac at 1825 N. 
  • Reach out to the Utah Division of Water Rights to see if the treed area is a mitigation area.
  • If the area is not a mitigation area, the treed area has been really neglected. It would be a good location to actually restore a meandering stream planform. A project of this magnitude would likely require natural channel design.
  • Consulting with an urban forester would be helpful as well, because there is potential to clean up the branches and fine debris to make the area more inviting and conducive to recreational use. 
  • In the open water areas, you could improve fish habitat by developing strategic random rock clusters to create chutes and backwaters. 
    • Not weirs or ponds, but more random placement of rock.
    • This would be considered fill in a water of Utah and would need to be permitted. 
  • Near the retirement center, develop a terraced bank along Coldwater Creek where appropriate and then place down erosion fabric and plant native riparian and wetland plants (see image below). Terraces provide areas for plants to grow. This would need to be permitted. 
  • Plants include:
    • Redosier Dogwood
    • Willow
    • Boxelder Trees
    • Woods Rose
    • Golden Current
    • Wetland sod
    • Milkweed
    • It sounds like the streamflows don’t fluctuate wildly. This is helpful in developing a restoration and planting plan.
    • Securing the plants and building the terraces would likely require an infusion of grant funding and permitting. Organizations like the Weber Basin Anglers, or even TU national can help secure the grants. 
  • Develop enhancements along 1900 N. 
    • Remove garbage
    • Control weeds
    • Develop setback protections
  • Work with the city to replace the 1900 N. culvert. This culvert blocks fish movements. A properly built culvert will allow fish to move up and downstream within this corridor. This is important for 
Tiger Trout Coldwater Creek
Photo Credit: Ryan Spelts

Founded in Michigan in 1959, Trout Unlimited was formed as a non-profit that today has over 300,000 members in North America. Their goal is to conserve, protect and restore North America’s cold water fisheries and their watersheds. They are considering helping restore a fish habitat right here in North Ogden, but they need our help. 

When Spencer Alexander moved into his new North Ogden home 3 years ago, he was excited to have the Coldwater Creek running along his back yard. As a fisherman, he wondered if there were any fish in this little creek. To his surprise, not only were there fish but there were large rainbow, brown and tiger trout living right in his back yard. It takes some very simple things for a quality trout habitat to exist. First is clean cold water year round, between 45 to 65 degrees. Second is an abundant supply of food, third is shelter from predators and fourth is gravel beds to lay eggs on. Cold Water Creek has all of these. 

However if you are like me, you might be wondering… “Where is Cold Water Creek?” I knew vaguely that it ran through the park by Green Acres Elementary and that was about it. My son and his friends had actually caught a fish there a few years ago, with a rigged up fishing pole (line tied to a stick) but that was all I knew. The challenge is that this creek is often viewed as a ditch by developers and has been covered over in many places so that houses and roads could be built. It actually runs from the Cold Springs at the Cold Spring Trout Farm then down roughly through the middle of North Ogden and eventually out to the Harrisville Pond. 

Large Rainbow trout

Unfortunately there have been abuses of the creek and development has encroached on its path and serenity. Spencer came home one day to find the creek roughly the color of skim milk and was worried about his prized fish habitat. Come to find out a construction company was washing out their concrete truck upstream polluting the water all the way down. Unfortunately this is because it is often viewed simply as a ditch. Much of the water runs through private land and is inaccessible to visitors and fishing aficionados. There are various areas where it could be accessed, but those areas are not maintained and are full of noxious weeds and Stinging Nettle.

Spencer and a group of conservationists and fishermen are seeking the help of North Ogden City, its residents and Trout Unlimited to restore and preserve the future of this beautiful naturally cold water fishery. Trout Unlimited Representative, Paul Burnett was able to visit and give a list of recommendations of what needs to be done to maintain and protect this habitat, that list can be found online at the link below. I agree with Spencer that we should make the effort to restore and maintain what we have for a beautiful walking path and fishing locale. The goal of the group is also to make the creek a catch and release waterway where only artificial flies and lures are to be used. This will help maintain the size of the fish and keep stocks high.

Catch and Release
Photo Credit: Ryan Spelts

I joined Spencer a couple of Saturdays ago and brought my fly rod. I was able to catch 3 beautiful and big fish. One was a large rainbow that would fit on my top ten list. It was great fun. We were also joined by Chad Roylance who owns a local plumbing company but is also a photography and videography enthusiast on the side. The underwater photos were captured on his GoPro.

To get involved, email Spencer: alex_spenc@icloud.com or contact him via Facebook Messenger.

4 comments

    • Hey Stephane at this point it’s going to require us collecting some financial backing to help get this going I want to plan a fundraising event and maybe sell some of my artwork to help pay for it.TU has an idea on to get some grant availability but at the time some much of the financing will probably fall onto us so it’ll depend on how much money we can raise.

  1. I too would like to help put me on the list please thanks for your work Spencer and KSL for running a segment in the news. laurie harrower

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