Brandon Ertis

Ertis, B., D. Brown, C. Monohan, A. James. Using LiDAR, Arc GIS, and on-the-ground data collection to describe geomorphometric characteristics of hydraulic mining features in the Yuba River watershed. California State University, Chico. Spring 2018.


Hydraulic mining had and continues to have an effect on sediment processes and water resources in northern California. This study focuses on three subwatersheds (Willow Creek, Oregon Creek, and Scotchman Creek) within the Yuba River basin (one of the most heavily hydraulically-mined). A total of 35 hydraulic mine features (HMFs) were included in this study. These incorporate both locations where hydraulic mining occurred and locations where sediment produced by hydraulic mining is currently held, either behind a debris control dam (DCD) or in a natural drainage channel along a waterway. For each of these HMFs, the objective of the study was to determine (1) a geomorphometric characterization and assessment of current conditions (2) methodologies for estimating sediment volume results using the LIDAR dataset and ArcGIS and 3) determine sediment volumes for (3.a) the amount produced by hydraulic mining sites and (3.b) the amount still held in sediment deposits, and (3.c) compared these amounts to inform to what extent sediment produced still remains within the study areas. Although the number of mines in each subwatershed were similar, the produced sediment volume estimates varied (~13 million m3 for Willow Creek,~2 million m3 for Oregon Creek, and ~10 million m3 for Scotchman Creek). The remaining sediment deposits comprise approximately 3.4% of the total sediment produced in Willow Creek, 18.3% in Oregon Creek, and 2.7% in Scotchman Creek. Though they only contain a fraction of the sediment produced from hydraulic mining sites, the sediment deposits need to be further studied and better understood. Also, on-the-ground field work determined that sediment transport from HMFs is continuing, and no HMFs were visited that are hydrologically isolated from nearby waterways and quantitative data about water quality and sediment transport would be valuable.

Student Bio

Brandon Ertis is a licensed professional engineer in the state of California, has a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from UC Davis, and a Master’s Degree in Environmental Science at CSU Chico. He has over five years of experience working with water resources in California, including agricultural water management, environmental monitoring, abandoned mine remediation, and flow measurement. After graduating from UC Davis, Brandon also completed an internship with Engineering Ministries International (eMi), working on a community development project in rural Kenya analyzing opportunities for water-related development. He also currently serves on the Board of Directors for SmartPhones4Water, a nonprofit that was created out of a passion for people, water, and restoration.