What does salmon habitat restoration look like? Sometimes, it looks like a bridge for people.
Under the leadership of the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe the project, which also included restoring important habitat for Chinook salmon, took place in just 7 months. It was a project that under different circumstances would have taken 2 to 3 years to complete.
A 2015 February storm and resulting damage to the bridge became the catalyst for bringing together the tribe, local salmon recovery organizations, local trail enthusiasts, environmental groups, and state agencies to get the project underway. Originally built in 1916 to accommodate a railroad, the bridge was restored in the 1990s as part of the Olympic Discovery Trail. The storm damage forced the temporary closure of the bridge and of that section of the trail.
The old bridge had been supported by creosote pilings and creosote shore abutments. The creosote damaged water quality, and the abutments and pilings altered the natural channels of the river and damaged salmon habitat. The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, as landowner of the park, had flagged the bridge replacement as a future salmon recovery project in the North Olympic Peninsula Lead Entity’s salmon recovery workplan. After the February storm, the project became a high priority in part due to the strong community interest in reconnecting the popular walking and biking trail as soon as possible. The tribe and the North Olympic Peninsula Lead Entity asked the Partnership for help in accessing funding quickly to ensure the replacement bridge was salmon friendly as well as people friendly. The Puget Sound Acquisition and Restoration fund, which the Partnership jointly manages with the Recreation and Conservation Office, has an early action option that enabled us to work with the North Olympic Peninsula Lead Entity and the Salmon Recovery Funding Board to allocate $1.5 million to the project quickly.
This project removed artificial constrictions to the movement of the river in its floodplain which contributes to the Puget Sound Vital Signs ecosystem target for Floodplains restoration.
“Take a look around and see what has been created, the new habitat. The river can meander, restore its ecosystems, to bring the river back to its natural condition.”
Jeanette Dorner, Puget Sound Partnership
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Photos and post by Cathy Cochrane, Puget Sound Partnership