Swinomish Tribe’s Restoration Improves Fish Passage Beside Farmland

Swinomish environmental director Todd Mitchell observes a self-regulating tide gate that is mostly under water in the Smokehouse tidelands.

Swinomish environmental director Todd Mitchell observes a self-regulating tide gate that is mostly under water in the Smokehouse tidelands.

By Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

 

Farming interests in Skagit County often seem at odds with salmon habitat restoration, but an ongoing project by the Swinomish Tribe aims to show that it doesn’t have to be that way.

The tribe owns the land known as the Smokehouse tidelands along the Swinomish Channel south of the Swinomish Casino and Lodge. Historically, the land was part of a system of channels that served as estuarine rearing habitat for Skagit River salmon. When the Skagit Valley was settled, the tidelands were diked and drained for agricultural use.

Since 2005, the tribe has restored tidal flow and improved fish passage to the channels by replacing four traditional flap gates with self-regulating tide gates. In addition, three culverts have been replaced by bridges, and several have been removed.

“The big advantage is for fish, but the tide gates also have improved drainage capacity,” said Todd Mitchell, Swinomish environmental director. “As more water comes in, more water goes out. We don’t have the ponds of standing water that you see on other farmland after heavy rain.”

Fifty-foot buffers have been planted between the channels and the farmland. Some of the land will remain in agricultural use, with the tribe leasing it to farmers and monitoring for saltwater intrusion.

“Continued farming provides income for the Swinomish Tribe,” said Steve Hinton, restoration director for the Skagit River System Cooperative, the natural resources extension of the Swinomish and Sauk-Suiattle tribes. “The goal is to see that agriculture and salmon can not only survive, but thrive in the same space.”

The long-term plan is for riparian corridors, tidally connected channels and estuarine wetlands to exist alongside agricultural production.

“Resolving the differences between these competing uses of the resource are essential to significant and meaningful restoration of chinook rearing habitat across the Skagit delta,” Hinton said.

Suquamish Tribe, agencies restore eelgrass beds on Bainbridge Island

 

An eelgrass transplant consists of tying five eelgrass rhizomes together with a twist-tie and attaching it to a landscaping staple. The staple is then buried in the subtidal area where eelgrass is expected to flourish. More photos can be viewed by clicking on the photo.

An eelgrass transplant consists of tying five eelgrass rhizomes together with a twist-tie and attaching it to a landscaping staple. The staple is then buried in the subtidal area where eelgrass is expected to flourish. More photos can be viewed by clicking on the photo.

By Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

Work will begin this week on the final phase of a major eelgrass restoration project located just outside Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island.

The project is at the site of the former Milwaukee Dock, near Pritchard Park. The dock, removed in the early 1990s, historically served the Wyckoff creosote plant; the area is now a Superfund cleanup site.

The dock was constructed in a dense subtidal meadow of eelgrass, which was further impacted by navigation channels that left two large depressions too deep for eelgrass to grow and flourish.

Eelgrass is recognized as one of the most valuable ecosystem components in Puget Sound. This project will contribute to the Puget Sound Partnership’s goal of increasing the amount of eelgrass habitat by 20 percent over the current baseline by 2020.

“The importance of eelgrass meadows to salmon and other fish and invertebrates is well documented,” said Tom Ostrom, salmon recovery coordinator for the Suquamish Tribe. “The depth of these depressions is what has prevented eelgrass from growing. Because the surrounding eelgrass is so dense and so robust, it makes this site a prime candidate for restoration.”

The Elliott Bay Trustee Council, which includes the tribe, began restoring the smaller of the two depressions in 2012; work begins this week on the larger depression. The work is being coordinated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The work takes place in three stages: The existing eelgrass is temporarily transplanted from the edges of the depression to nearby areas. The depression then is filled with clean sediment. After the sediment settles, the eelgrass is re-planted in the filled depression and is expected to fill out the former bare area.

SCUBA divers from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Sequim (PNNL) have transplanted eelgrass back into the smaller depression and begun removing eelgrass from the larger depression in preparation for filling.

PNNL scientists will monitor the restoration site annually for at least five years to document how well the transplanted eelgrass is growing and to assess the overall success of the project.

The first phase of the project, restoring the smaller depression, was funded by the Elliott Bay Trustee Council from funds set aside for restoration efforts under a legal settlement with Pacific Sound Resources. The settlement addressed natural resource damages resulting from the contamination at two Superfund sites in Puget Sound, including the Wyckoff facility in Eagle Harbor.

Most of the funding for restoration of the larger depression is from a $1.76M grant awarded to the Suquamish Tribe from the Puget Sound Partnership through the Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration Fund, a state

fund program that targets high priority restoration projects that benefit salmon recovery. The grant is administered by the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will manage filling the larger depression.

More information about the Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration program

The Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration (PSAR) program was created in 2007 to help implement the most important habitat protection and restoration priorities. Funding is appropriated by the Legislature through the Salmon Recovery Funding Board, based on a request from the Puget Sound Partnership (PSP). PSP works with local entities to identify and prioritize the highest impact, locally-vetted, and scientifically-rigorous projects across Puget Sound. This funding is critical to advancing the most effective projects throughout our region.

Eelgrass Facts

  • Scientific name: Zostera marina
  • True flowering plant
  • Eelgrass meadows have very high primary production rates and are the base of numerous food webs
  • Roots and rhizomes stabilize the seabed
  • Meadows contribute to local oxygen budget, both above and below the seabed
  • Utilized for foraging, spawning, rearing, and as migration corridors by many commercially important fish and invertebrate species, marine mammals, and birds
  • Sequesters carbon, thus ameliorating the effects of ocean acidification

Elliott Bay Trustee Council

The Elliott Bay Trustee Council consists of The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the U.S. Department of Commerce; the U.S. Department of the Interior, represented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe; the Suquamish Tribe; and the Washington departments of Ecology and Fish and Wildlife.

Biologists Try To Figure Out Large Fall Chinook Runs

By Courtney Flatt, Northwest Public Radio

 

A chinook salmon photographed in the Snake River in 2013. That year's run set records. Biologist aren't sure exactly why fall chinook runs have been so high in recent years. | credit: Aaron Kunz

A chinook salmon photographed in the Snake River in 2013. That year’s run set records. Biologist aren’t sure exactly why fall chinook runs have been so high in recent years. | credit: Aaron Kunz

 

Thousands of fall chinook salmon are swimming up the Columbia River every day right now. This year’s migration is expected to be one of the largest in recent years. Researchers aren’t sure exactly why fall chinook have made such a big comeback.

Salmon and steelhead restoration has been a big push throughout the Northwest — from Puget Sound to coastal streams to the Columbia-Snake River Basin — where fall chinook were nearly extinct by the 1960s.

Billy Connor is a fish biologist for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service based near the Clearwater River in Idaho, where many of these fish end up.

“There’s been an incredible amount of effort spent trying to restore salmon and steelhead populations throughout the Northwest. And the Snake River Basin fall chinook population is a pretty unusual case because it’s rebounded so dramatically,” Connor said.

He’s been researching fall chinook for 27 years, his entire career. For years, fall chinook weren’t the salmon people wanted to study. They weren’t as economically important or as tasty as the spring salmon runs.

But fall chinook have made a big comeback recently. Last year, a record 1.3 million fall chinook made the migration. This year’s run won’t break that record, but biologists say the numbers are still high.

And no one really knows why.

“We can’t point to any one action and say that’s it. That’s what did it,” Connor said.

There are good ocean conditions, habitat restoration, changes in dam operations, reductions in salmon predators and harvests. The list goes on.

Rich Zabel is the director of the fish ecology division at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Northwest Science Center. He understanding which factors help and which hurt fall chinook populations will help recovery efforts.

Zabel said one factor that’s overlooked is the fish’s adaptability. Historically, fall chinook spawned in sections of the river now blocked by the Hell’s Canyon Dam. Now, the salmon spawn on the Clearwater River and migrate at slightly different times of year.

“It’s taken the population a while to adapt. We’ve seen, over the last 20 years, some pretty major differences,” Zabel said.

Connor said teasing out the causes of these large numbers will be the study of his career.

He’s creating a computer model to narrow down the lengthy list of things that might be helping out the fall chinook runs. He says some pieces of the puzzle will affect salmon runs more than others.

To make the models, Connor and his team have been collecting data for 20 years. He says that’s why it’s taken so long to get to this point.

“These models are incredibly data hungry. There are thousands and thousands of bits of information that go into them,” Connor said.

Zabel said modeling like this, and other models that NOAA biologists are working on, shows how research and monitoring feed into management practices.

“As we’ve learned more and more about fall chinook through field research, we can understand through modeling and the collecting of data what the factors are that are harming the populations and can develop plans based on that information,” Zabel said.

Connor said biologists can apply what they learn with his model to help other salmon populations in the Northwest. He hopes to finish up this research by 2017.

Nisqually Tribe working with neighbors to restore Ohop Creek

Kyle Kautz, Nisqually tribal natural resources, collects fish from a pool in the former Ohop Creek channel.

Kyle Kautz, Nisqually tribal natural resources, collects fish from a pool in the former Ohop Creek channel.

 

Source: Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

 

This summer, the Nisqually Tribe, the Nisqually Land Trust and the South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group are tacking on another 1.5 miles of restored habitat to Ohop Creek.

“In this stretch of creek, salmon aren’t really given much space to feed or hide,” said David Troutt, natural resources director for the tribe. “We’ll be restoring the creek back to a natural shape and giving the salmon the habitat they need to survive.”

Over a century ago farmers turned the creek into a straight-flowing ditch in an attempt to dry out the valley floor and create cattle pasture. However, deep clay deposits in the soil continued to hold water year round, and despite the failed effort to completely dry the valley the stream remained channelized.

“It went from a shallow, meandering stream that was very good for salmon to a straight ditch,” Troutt said.

The Ohop Creek restoration will include digging an entirely new channel as well as adding other features, such as logjams and deep pools, that will provide habitat for salmon.

Salmon habitat restoration on the creek began in 2009 with a repaired one-mile channel just upstream of the new site. That channel was constructed to restore a sinuous stream that connected to its floodplain. The floodplain, now replanted with native vegetation, re-creates 80 acres of healthy riparian habitat that controls water temperatures and stabilizes the stream banks.

The project partners have already documented the progress of the upstream restoration. “We’ve seen a lot of changes, down to the types of birds that visit the site,” Troutt said. Early results include increased use by salmon and the return of wildlife species, such as elk, that had not been seen in the valley for decades.

Ohop Creek is one of two major tributaries to the Nisqually River that can support chinook salmon and steelhead, both of which are listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act. “Because there are only a few places other than the mainstem of the Nisqually River where they can spawn, increasing the quality of habitat in those places is important,” Troutt said. Ohop Creek also supports coho and pink salmon and cutthroat trout.

“Throughout Puget Sound, we’re seeing available salmon habitat continue to disappear, despite millions of dollars spent to restore and protect it,” Troutt said. “There is no larger threat to treaty rights than lost salmon habitat. Projects like this are a small step to reversing that trend.”

Tribe Helps Elk Herds Reclaim Their Home After Fire

Kristin Butler

Kristin Butler

 

Indian Country Today

 

The Cachil Dehe Band of Wintun Indians hopes Tule elk will return home to their reservation land. The tribe received $89,200 in grant funding from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, through the organization’s competitive Tribal Wildlife Grants Program, to restore elk habitat on its 7,000-acre property in Colusa County, California.

Roughly three herds are roaming about three to four miles outside the tribe’s ranch currently, but their range expansion has been limited by chamise, the native evergreen shrub that formerly grew extensively on the ranch before a 2012 fire burned it out. “Now that the fire’s gone through, it may open up the [elk’s] migration patterns,” Casey Stafford, director of land management for the Cortina Ranch, told newsreview.com. “We’re just going to try to get them a new place to call home.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service awarded 25 grants nationwide to federally recognized tribes in 15 states, including five in California, to fund a wide range of fish and wildlife conservation projects.

“Tribal nations share our conservation challenges in the United States,” said Service Director Dan Ashe. “The Tribal Wildlife Grants Program creates opportunities for tribes to build conservation capacity and for us to work together in a variety of ways, including species restoration, fish passage, protection of migratory birds and efforts to cope with the long-term effects of a changing climate.”

Tribes have received more than $64 million through the Tribal Wildlife Grants Program since 2003, providing support for more than 380 conservation projects administered by participating federally recognized tribes. These grants provide technical and financial assistance for development and implementation of projects that benefit fish and wildlife resources, including nongame species and their habitats.

The grants provide tribes opportunities to develop increased management capacity, improve and enhance relationships with partners (including state agencies), address cultural and environmental priorities and heighten tribal students’ interest in fisheries, wildlife and related fields of study.  A number of grants have been awarded to support recovery efforts for threatened and endangered species.

The grants are provided exclusively to federally recognized tribal governments and are made possible under the 2002 Related Agencies Appropriations Act through the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants Program. Proposals for the 2015 grant cycle are due Sept. 2, 2014.

For information about projects and the Tribal Wildlife Grants application process, visit http://www.fws.gov/nativeamerican/grants.html.

FY 2014 Tribal Wildlife Grants

ALASKA:
Native Village of Tazlina ($200,000)
Moose Browse Enhancement Project

Native Village of Tyonek (copy97,590)
Tyonek Area Watershed Action Plan

ARIZONA:
Tohono O’odham Nation ($200,000)
Engineering Design and Monitoring of State Route 86 Wildlife Connectivity Measures

CALIFORNIA:
Hoopa Valley Tribe (copy99,992)
Pacific Lamprey Passage Project

Pala Band of Mission Indians (copy89,645)
Tribal Habitat Conservation Plan Completion (Phase I and Phase II)

Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians (copy58,352)
Restoring and Enhancing Riparian Habitat on Chumash Tribal Lands

Cachil Dehe Band of Wintun Indians (copy89,200)
Cortina Ranch Tule Elk Restoration

FLORIDA:
Seminole Tribe of Florida ($200,000)
Seminole Tribe of Florida Tribal Wildlife Program

IDAHO:
Nez Perce Tribe ($200,000)
Restoration of Bighorn Sheep Populations and Habitats along the Salmon River, Idaho – Final Phase

MAINE:
Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians ($200,000)
Aquatic Habitat Restoration Program: Phase III – Fish Passage / Habitat Enhancement Project

Passamaquoddy Tribe – Pleasant Point Reservation (copy98,885)
Alewife Migration Behavior and Food Web Interactions in the St. Croix River and Estuary

MICHIGAN:
Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi (copy99,942)
Wildlife Habitat Assessment and Restoration Plan: Expansion and Implementation

MONTANA:
Northern Cheyenne Tribe (copy99,394)
Returning the Black-footed Ferret

Gros Ventre and Assiniboine Tribes of Fort Belknap Indian Community ($200,000)
Black-footed Ferret Reintroduction

NEW MEXICO:
Ohkay Owingeh (copy53,499)
Restoring Wet Meadow Habitats for Listed and Proposed Candidate Species at Ohkay Owingeh

Santa Ana Pueblo (copy99,998)
Monitoring Avian Community Response to Riparian Restoration along the Middle Rio Grande, Pueblo of Santa Ana

OKLAHOMA:
Osage Nation (copy85,511)
American Burying Beetle in the Osage Nation

OREGON:                
The Klamath Tribes ($200,000)
Klamath Reservation Forest Habitat Restoration and Ecosystem Resiliency Project.

SOUTH CAROLINA:
Catawba Indian Nation (copy74,501)
Catawba Preserve Wildlife Enhancement

UTAH:
Confederated Tribes of the Goshute Reservation, Nevada and Utah (copy93,384)
Native Bonneville Cutthroat Trout Habitat Restoration Project

WASHINGTON:
Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation (copy99,803)
Yakama Nation Shrub-Steppe Species Restoration Project

Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe (copy99,616)
Mammalian and Avian Recolonization Ofde the Watered Reservoirs After Dam Decommissioning and Their Impact on Revegetation Management, Elwha Valley, WA

Swinomish Indian Tribal Community (copy20,000)
Restoring an Endemic Species to Native Tidelands: Olympia Oysters in Swinomish Pocket Estuaries

Tulalip Tribes of Washington ($99,822)
Monitoring Fish and Water Resources on the Tulalip Tribes Indian Reservation, Usual and Accustomed Lands, and Marine Waters of the Pacific Northwest

WISCONSIN:
Stockbridge-Munsee Community ($200,000)
Herptile Management and Habitat Restoration

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/07/03/tribe-helps-elk-herds-reclaim-their-home-after-fire-155636

Interior Releases New Bison Management Report Reaffirming Tribal Commitment

 The U.S. Department of the Interior has released a plan to preserve and restore bison populations to the wild.

The U.S. Department of the Interior has released a plan to preserve and restore bison populations to the wild.

 

The Department of the Interior has reaffirmed its commitment to restore bison to “appropriate and well-managed levels on public and tribal lands” by working with states, tribes and other partners.

“The Interior Department has more than a century-long legacy of conserving the North American bison, and we will continue to pursue the ecological and cultural restoration of the species on behalf of the American public and American Indian tribes who have a special connection to this iconic animal,” said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell in a June 30 statement announcing the release of a report, DOI Bison Report: Looking Forward, which outlines plans to work with tribes, states, landowners, conservation groups, commercial bison producers and agricultural interests to restore the bison population to a “proper ecological and cultural role on appropriate landscapes within its historical range,” the DOI statement said.

“This report reaffirms our commitment to work with many partners to ensure healthy, ranging bison contribute not only to the conservation of the species, but also to sustainable local and regional economies and communities,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks Rachel Jacobson in the statement.

A key component of the report addresses recent developments regarding brucellosis quarantine that could allow for the relocation of Yellowstone bison outside the Greater outside the Greater Yellowstone Area, if they are quarantined and determined to be brucellosis-free. A new protocol developed by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and introduced in February strongly suggests that this is indeed possible.

“The results of this study indicate that under the right conditions, there is an opportunity to produce live brucellosis-free bison from even a herd with a large number of infected animals like the one in Yellowstone National Park,” said Dr. Jack Rhyan, APHIS Veterinary Officer, in a WCS statement in February. “Additionally, this study was a great example of the benefits to be gained from several agencies pooling resources and expertise to research the critical issue of brucellosis in wildlife.”

RELATED: Yellowstone Bison Slaughter Over, Controversy Remains

The new information “raises the potential that for the first time in over a half century, Yellowstone bison could once again contribute to the broader conservation of the species beyond the Greater Yellowstone Area without spreading brucellosis,” the DOI said in its statement. “When evaluating whether to implement a brucellosis quarantine program in the future, Interior will follow all necessary processes to ensure full involvement by states, tribes, and the public.”

As such, the department said it was unwaveringly committed to working with tribes to restore bison on public and tribal lands “because of its cultural, religious, nutritional, and economic importance to many tribes.”

The American buffalo, which numbered an estimated 40 million when Europeans first arrived on Turtle Island, had been reduced to 25 by the late 19th century, Interior noted. Since then many parties have worked hard to bring them back from the brink of extinction and reintroduce them to tribal lands.

“Interior lands now support 17 bison herds in 12 states for a total of approximately 10,000 bison over 4.6 million acres of Interior and adjacent lands, accounting for one third of all bison managed for conservation in North America,” the department said.

 

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/07/03/interior-releases-new-bison-management-report-reaffirming-tribal-commitment-155615

Clarks Creek may provide clues to Puget Sound restoration

 

Source: Northwest Indian Fisheries

PUYALLUP – The Puyallup Tribe of Indians working to decrease sediment in Clarks Creek, an important salmon tributary to the Puyallup River.

“Clarks Creek is important because it supports several different species of salmon, some listed under the federal Endangered Species Act,” said Char Naylor, water quality program manager for the tribe. Clarks Creek also supports the highest salmon spawning densities in the Puyallup watershed as well as the most significant number and variety of spawning salmon within a city limits in the watershed.

“Its also important because it can be an example of how we can restore hundreds of small urban streams in Puget Sound,” Naylor said. The problems facing the Clarks Creek watershed are endemic to most Puget Sound lowland streams. The principal non-point pollutants causing degradation are excessive sediment, nuisance weed growth, nutrient enrichment and excessive bacteria loading.

“If we can tackle these issues in Clarks Creek, we can show other Puget Sound communities how to heal their streams,” Naylor said.

The tribe is leading a regional effort to clean up the creek by reducing the amount of sediment flowing into it. Too much sediment in a stream drives down salmon productivity because it impacts the fish’s ability to find clean spawning gravel in which to spawn or rear. The goal of the project is to reduce sediment loads by half and nutrient and bacteria by a third by lowering flows and stabilizing banks to reducing channel erosion.

The tribe recently finished a two-year study of sediment sources throughout Clarks Creek. The study found that if 23 major sources of sediment were repaired, over 50 percent of the creek’s sediment problem would go away. Yet by doing just the top eight bank stabilization projects, a huge amount of sediment can be removed from the stream very cost-effectively.

The tribe is putting together plans to restore two those major sources of sediment in the creek. The tribal projects would stabilize the banks of two Clarks Creek tributaries. “We would literally be changing the shapes of their banks and channels, adding gravel and planting vegetation along their banks,” Naylor said.

Other sorts of projects suggested by the study include stormwater retrofits, low impact development, and stormwater detention ponds.

Most of the creek’s sediment actually start with the river it flows into. “The Puyallup River is diked through most of its lower reach,” Naylor said. “This caused the river bed itself to drop, which means the creeks flowing into it also drop.” This down-cutting action puts more sediment into the creek than would be there otherwise.

Clarks Creek is just 4 miles long and flows through suburban neighborhoods of the city of Puyallup before joining the Puyallup River. Because it is largely spring-fed, the creek has a consistent level of water throughout the year, making it great rearing habitat for juvenile salmon. The Puyallup Tribe also operates a chinook hatchery on the creek.

“We have already begun working on implementing several of the identified sediment projects to restore the watershed almost before the ink was dry on the report,,” Naylor said. “It is satisfying to have changed the status quo, the way things have been done in this watershed over the last several decades.”

Elwha River Restoration: Kruckeberg Botanic Garden Special Lecture

Photo source: Salmon Recovery Fund

Photo source: Salmon Recovery Fund

January 21, 2014 KING5.com


KBGF MEMBERS MEETING JANUARY 21

Our guest speaker at the 2014 KBGF Members’ meeting will be Joshua
Chenoweth, head botanist on the Elwha River Dam Removal Ecosystem Restoration Project. Dam removal, once completed, will be the largest dam removal project in the U.S. and the restoration project is the second largest project ever undertaken by the National Park Service. Join us to learn about the unprecendented ecosystem restoration activities occurring in our state!

 

Revegetation of the Former Reservoirs on the Elwha River 2011-2013

Revegetation of the former reservoirs, Lake Mills and Lake Aldwell, on the Elwha River is an unprecedented effort to reverse the impacts of dams on a major river. Dam removal, once completed, will be the largest known dam removal project in the United States and the Elwha Ecosystem Restoration Project is the second largest restoration project ever undertaken by the National Park Service. Dam removal has exposed nearly 800 acres of valley slopes, terraces, and floodplain that was inundated for 80-100 years. The reservoir trapped nearly 30 million cubic yards of inorganic sediments ranging in

Time/Date: 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM, Tues. Jan 21st, 2014

Cost: free to KBGF members / $5 suggested donation

Venue:

Shoreline City Hall, Council Chambers

17544 Midvale Ave N # 100
Seattle, WA 98133

Community: Shoreline – Lake Forest Park
View Map | Get Directions

Tulalip Tribes partner with others to restore salmon habitat

Brett Shattuck, forest and fish biologist for the Tulalip Tribes, stands beside the wood debris that was installed during this fall’s restoration of Greenwood Creek to make it a better salmon habitat.— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

Brett Shattuck, forest and fish biologist for the Tulalip Tribes, stands beside the wood debris that was installed during this fall’s restoration of Greenwood Creek to make it a better salmon habitat.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

By Kirk Boxleitner, Marysville Globe, December 30,2013

STANWOOD — The coastal stream at 18510 Soundview Drive NW in Stanwood began as a “degraded straight ditch,” according to Brett Shattuck, forest and fish biologist for the Tulalip Tribes, but the gulch came to reclaim its old name of Greenwood Creek in the wake of its restoration as a salmon habitat this fall.

“We spent years studying all the coastal streams in the Whidbey basin, looking for which ones were used the most by juvenile chinook salmon, and we found the highest number of them here,” said Shattuck, who reported that Tulalip Tribal Natural Resources staff counted 280 chinook, out of a total of 600 juvenile salmon that also included coho and other species, during a single day’s electrofishing survey. “Even though this property is owned by Snohomish County and in a public right-of-way, it was an ideal restoration site, so we spent the past year pursuing that. Our neighbors were very supportive, and the county was willing to work with us and the Adopt-A-Stream Foundation to find a strategy that was beneficial to the county, the local residents, the Tribes and the fish.”

Shattuck explained that crews pulled back the banks of the stream to widen it, cleared out invasive species such as blackberry brambles, installed large wood debris to foster a better habitat for the salmon, and planted a dense variety of native vegetation to help hold back the stream banks and provide shade for the salmon.

“We’ve got about 300-400 trees and shrubs, not including the live stakes, all about two feet apart from each other,” said Shattuck, who listed willow, red cedar and red twig dogwood as among those species. “Volunteers and Tribal Natural Resources staff did most of the planting in about a day. The county donated the plants and wood debris, and their staff helped us with the permitting and engineering of the site. Again, the stream’s neighbors were really behind us, and it was good working with the Adopt-A-Stream Foundation’s contractor. Our funding source was the Pacific Coast Salmon Recovery Fund.”

According to Shattuck, the contractor work ended in September and the planting took place in October, and all that’s left now is to install the interpretive sign for the site — which he expects will be completed within the next couple of months — and to continue the monitoring work that led the Tribes to select the stream in the first place.

“We monitored this site for three years prior to implementing anything,” Shattuck said. “This is a pilot program, because there are plenty of other drainage streams in the basin that could be made into better habitats for their fish.”

“If we are truly committed to seeing salmon stocks rebound to harvestable levels, we must work together on recovery projects both large and small,” Tulalip Tribal Chair Mel Sheldon Jr. said. “Greenwood Creek represents a small project with a huge benefit. The Tulalip Tribes look forward to working with Snohomish County on future projects to solve our salmon crisis.”

 

Quinault Nation Pushes for Blueback Support

Two engineered logjams with fishermen in boat. The restoration plan for the Upper Quinault River is needed to protect and restore the famed Blueback Salmon population. Will the state do its part? The Quinault Tribal plan for the Upper Quinault River on the Olympic Peninsula applies engineered logjams and floodplain forest restoration methods modeled after natural floodplain forest developmental patterns and river channel habitat forming processes found in river valleys of the west side of the Olympic Mountains. Among other things, the logjams are designed to mimic old growth trees to create and protect river floodplain and side channel salmon habitat and foster the development of mature, self-sustaining conifer floodplain forests.

Two engineered logjams with fishermen in boat. The restoration plan for the Upper Quinault River is needed to protect and restore the famed Blueback Salmon population. Will the state do its part? The Quinault Tribal plan for the Upper Quinault River on the Olympic Peninsula applies engineered logjams and floodplain forest restoration methods modeled after natural floodplain forest developmental patterns and river channel habitat forming processes found in river valleys of the west side of the Olympic Mountains. Among other things, the logjams are designed to mimic old growth trees to create and protect river floodplain and side channel salmon habitat and foster the development of mature, self-sustaining conifer floodplain forests.

TAHOLAH, WA (6/3/13)–Work being done on the Upper Quinault River is a powerful example of environmental stewardship benefiting the economy, and the state legislature needs to step up to support it, says Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Indian Nation. “There is interconnection between a healthy environment and a sustainable economy wherever you go, but on the Upper Quinault everything is lined up to truly make a difference,” she said.

In an email letter addressed to Governor Inslee and to all legislators today, Sharp reminded the state’s lawmakers to support a budget proviso for $2.8 million in the Senate Capital Budget which would support ongoing work on the Upper Quinault, and the Tribe has made one of its top priorities (Department of Natural Resources budget, PSSB 5035, New Section 3235).

“This proposal is important to the coastal region in many respects. The investment will be highly job intensive in a region in desperate need of employment opportunities—and those jobs will be sustainable and environmentally friendly,” said Sharp.  One of the primary objectives of the effort is to restore habitat which is key to the survival and restoration of the famed Blueback Salmon population. To date, since the year 2000, the Quinault Tribe has invested more than $5 million in Blueback restoration which includes the upper Quinault River work, lake fertilization, monitoring and supplementation.  The current federal ask is more than $5 million. Of the state request, $2.5 million would be used to install engineered logjams over a five mile stretch of the river and $300,000 would be used for the Lower Queets/Clearwater and Quinault Riparian Forest restoration and enhancement (improvement of riparian forest habitat through invasive species control, instream habitat enhancement, off channel habitat enhancement, and replanting native trees to aid forest regeneration).

“The work being done on this project is highly professional and well engineered. It is the result of government-to-government and tribal and non-tribal coordination. That is another great thing about this effort. We are demonstrating, once again, that things get done when we work together. Everybody stands to benefit and everyone is involved,” said Sharp.

“We have made this request of the legislature several times this session. It is a very reasonable request which will benefit the state and its citizens, economically and environmentally, many times over. Everyone has stepped up to the plate. We’re simply encouraging the state to do the same. Given the unstable nature of the state budget process, we want to impress the importance of this project on the Governor and legislators. This is one they cannot leave behind,” she said.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation published a report, paid for by the Quinault Tribe, in 2005, stating that “the upper Quinault River and its salmon habitats will not heal on their own. Restorative intervention is required.” In response to that conclusion, the great importance of the Blueback Salmon to the Tribe’s culture, heritage and economy, and the inherent risks to continued viability of that species, Quinault produced and published the Salmon Habitat Restoration Plan – Upper Quinault River. The plan is a comprehensive, science-based approach to restore the river, including its floodplains, floodplain forests, and salmon habitat. The plan, which the Tribe and others in the area are following, applies engineered logjams and floodplain forest restoration methods modeled after natural floodplain forest developmental patterns and river channel habitat forming processes found in river valleys of the west side of the Olympic Mountains. Among other things, the logjams are designed to mimic old growth trees to create and protect river floodplain and side channel salmon habitat and foster the development of mature, self-sustaining conifer floodplain forests.

The project areas proposed for use of the funding include approximately 3.6 miles of mainstem river channel and 520 acres of existing floodplain. The project, if funded and constructed in its entirety will yield approximately 7.7 miles of protected and/or restored mainstem river and side channel salmon habitat, approximately 860 acres of new floodplain, and reestablish approximately 537 acres of mixed conifer-deciduous floodplain forest.

“So much is at stake here. Dozens of jobs. Economic stability. Generations of critically important Blueback runs. We truly hope the Governor and legislators are listening,” said Sharp.