Fish Habitat Improved On Hoh River Tributary

HOH RIVER WATERSHED (Sept. 18, 2006)– One of the most productive coho tributaries to the lower Hoh River just got even better for fish thanks to the removal of a fish-blocking culvert on its upper reaches.

“Anytime there is an opportunity to get one of these fish-blocking culverts out, the tribe wants to remove it,” said Tyler Jurasin, fisheries biologist for the Hoh Tribe. One of the tribe’s highest priorities is addressing fish passage problems in the Hoh watershed. The $60,000 Braden Creek project is a cooperative effort between the Hoh Tribe and private timberland owner Rayonier.

In addition to opening about 1.5 miles of habitat for fish, the project is reducing the possibility of a catastrophic mud flow. “This is an undersized culvert that had approximately 1,500 yards of dirt and clay on top of it,” said Jurasin. “If the culvert had plugged up with debris during high flows, which these smaller-diameter culverts frequently do, water would have backed up until it blew out all this fill dirt. Not only would it kill thousands of fish and wipe out miles of fish habitat below, it would devastate future fish production for years to come.”

The 5-foot diameter culvert was removed and the stream bed re-graded to its historic slope. Tribal crews placed sediment-trapping jute mats and hay on the restored slope and also planted willow trees and grass seed to establish a stabilizing ground-cover as quickly as possible. Fish were trapped, removed from the area and blocked from returning during the project to protect them from the effects of the work.

“This project is the culmination of a great deal of work by many people over time and fish will benefit,” said Tim Snowden, natural resources director for the Hoh Tribe.

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For more information, contact: Tyler Jurasin, fisheries biologist, Hoh Tribe, (360) 374-6737; Tim Snowden, natural resources director, Hoh Tribe, (360) 374-6735; Debbie Preston, coastal information officer, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, (360) 374-5501