Lower Elwha Tribe studies wood movement in Elwha River


By: Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission

The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe is tagging large woody debris to follow it as it moves through the newly restored Elwha River system.

“We’re tracking over 2,000 logs and tree stumps with silver tree tags, from the upstream end of Lake Mills to the river mouth,” said Vivian Leung, a doctoral student of geomorphology at University of Washington.

She’s been working with the tribe since 2012 to study how large wood debris (LWD) has affected the river during and after the removal of the river’s two-fish blocking dams.

“Not only did the dams completely block the supply of sediment downstream, but they also altered the transportation of large wood,” said Mike McHenry, the tribe’s habitat manager. “Both elements are critical for habitat forming processes not only in the river but in the nearshore. The fate of wood is relevant to the recovery of the river and its aquatic resources, especially salmon.”


Silver tags are attached to log and stumps throughout the Elwha River so scientists can track their movements as the river changes during restoration.

Silver tags are attached to log and stumps throughout the Elwha River so scientists can track their movements as the river changes during restoration.


As the dams came down, the lake Aldwell and Mills reservoirs were drained, leaving behind thousands of logs and tree stumps that had been buried under sediment and water for the past century. The natural action of the river is transporting the logs and stumps throughout the new riverbed, changing the dynamics of the river and creating better salmon habitat.

Leung is interested in how logjams form and affect channel patterns, how wood is transported through rivers and how the pools they create provide places for salmon to rest, feed and spawn.

“Surprisingly, there’s still a lot of research to be done to understand how large wood debris interacts with river systems,” she said. “So far we have found that logjams and salmon habitat are forming significantly faster in Aldwell than we expected.”

The large logs and rootwads also are aiding revegetation efforts of the lakebeds. The tribe hired a heavy-lift helicopter recently to relocate 500 unmarked logs around Mills. The logs were moved from the former reservoir pool elevation to terraces along the river’s floodplain.

These logs are expected to help stabilize steep slopes and provide sheltered areas for young plants to survive during planned revegetation efforts in the coming years, McHenry said. During 2014-2015, 100,000 woody plants will be planted into the former Mills reservoir surface.

New York Times Raises the Alarm on Redwood Poaching

AP Photo/Redwood National and State Parks, Laura DennHacking off redwood burls leaves the tree open to infection, and eliminates its main means of reproduction.

AP Photo/Redwood National and State Parks, Laura Denn
Hacking off redwood burls leaves the tree open to infection, and eliminates its main means of reproduction.


Indian Country Today Media Network


The New York Times is raising the alarm on redwood poaching.

Redwoods that have stood like sentinels for a thousand years or more are being brutalized by poachers, their burls hacked off and sold. There have been at least 18 known cases of burl poaching from redwoods in the past year, forcing the closing of one California state highway at night, with more to follow.

RELATED: Desperate Poachers Hack Burls From Iconic Redwoods for Cash

“It’s not just a property crime,” said Brett Silver, supervising ranger for Redwood National and State Parks in California, to The New York Times. “It’s a legacy, like hacking up a church.”

This the Yurok certainly feel, regarding redwoods as “sacred living beings” that “stand as guardians over our sacred places,” the tribe says on its website.

Burls range in size from small enough to be crafted into salt and pepper shakers, as The New York Times points out, to large enough to weigh hundreds of pounds and be fashioned into furniture. The slabs of raw wood that are used to make furniture can sell for hundreds or even thousands of dollars each, The New York Times said.

In March, the National Park Service announced it would close the Newton B. Drury Scenic Parkway at night to try and hamper the operations, which tend to be conducted under cover of darkness. While the poaching of wood in general is not new, a slow economy combined with an increase in methamphetamine use have made poachers bolder, the newspaper said.

“They have been targeting ever-bigger burls and using increasingly brazen tactics,” The New York Times reported. “Last year, a redwood estimated to be 400 years old was felled by thieves who wanted access to a 500-pound burl 60 feet up.”

Burls are essential to a redwood’s reproduction, the National Park Service said.

“Burl is a woody material full of un-sprouted bud tissue,” the NPS said in a leaflet about the trees. “It serves as a storage compartment for the genetic code of the parent tree. If the redwood falls or is damaged, the burl may sprout another redwood tree known as a clone.”

Read Poachers Attack Beloved Elders of California, Its Redwoods in The New York Times.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/04/10/new-york-times-raises-alarm-redwood-poaching-154393