Flood control proposal threatens salmon spawning habitat on Skagit River

The Skagit Valley Herald reports on proposed flood control measures on the Skagit River:

Environmentalists said during a flood control meeting Wednesday that they had grave concerns with a proposal to draw down the reservoirs behind the Upper Baker, Lower Baker and Ross dams in order to keep more water out of the Skagit River during a flood.

“As I understand the current proposal, you would most certainly see great hits (to the salmon population),” said Stan Walsh, environmental services manager for the Skagit River System Cooperative and a substitute member on Skagit County’s 15-person Flood Control Zone District Advisory Committee that met Wednesday.

“You would have trouble getting that past any endangered species consultation” with the federal government, Walsh added.

Flood storage is already practiced and is a proven way to reduce flood heights and protect properties and lives.

The proposal under consideration by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers calls for drawing down the reservoirs earlier in the fall. Environmentalists worry this could leave incubating salmon eggs high and dry.

“You’re almost certainly going to have chinook impacts (if they) spawn in areas that don’t have enough incubation water later,” Walsh said.