Saturday, July 22, 2017

Our Rivers

Restoring the Quinault River system to support healthy runs of prized Blueback (Sockeye) Salmon is a top priority for the Quinault Indian Nation. In Summer 2012, the Quinault Divivsion of Natural Resources Fisheries Department oversaw the creation of three engineered log jams above Lake Quinault to expand salmon spawning habitat.

Although blueback populations are still relatively healthy in the Quinault River, they have been rapidly declining since the 1950s. Blueback were once a key component in local, natural nutrient-cycling and ecosystem processes and provided a primary source of income and subsistence for many Quinault families.

Over the past century, removal of old-growth forests and large woody debris destabilized the Quinault River floodplain and resulted in a nearly complete loss of cool, stable, off-channel salmon habitat where blueback can spawn. The Upper Quinault River above Lake Quinault now comprises of immature red alder growing in a shallow, braided river with few side channels.

In 2007, the QIN declared that recovery of the blueback to sustainable levels was a national priority. The QDNR Fisheries Department completed a long-term (100-year) restoration plan for the Upper Quinault River that focuses on land acquisition and restoration projects. In 2008 the QIN began engineering and constructing log jams in the Alder Creek portion of the Upper Quinault River floodplain. The massive log jams are carefully built to form natural pools and channels that salmon will use. In some cases spruce, alder or cottonwoods are planted on or along the log jams to help establish a new floodplain forest that will stabilize the river channels and sediment.

Fifteen log jams have been built in the first four years with financial support from The Nature Conservancy, the Wild Salmon Center, and the Washington Department of Natural Resources.