Near the quiet Dungeness River delta, an excavator constructs several jumbled piles of logs in a side channel of the Dungeness River. Several kingfishers swoop around and squawk in the trees above, not sure what all commotion is about. The slender logs with rootwads attached will play an important role in how salmon will use the area to rest and feed, as well as hide from those kingfishers.
The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe hopes to see federally listed Puget Sound chinook and Hood Canal summer chum using these logjams following this summer’s restoration of 18 acres of estuary in the river delta.
The restoration work included building the logjams, creating tidal channels and breaching dikes built for road access in the 1960s to allow water to move freely throughout delta’s two salt marshes. The estuary provides critical rearing habitat for the listed salmon species.
“These marshes have a mixture of salt water from the Strait of Juan de Fuca and fresh water from the river, but as evidenced by the amount of invasive reed canary grass on the banks of the river, there’s not enough salt water getting into the estuary,” said Byron Rot, the tribe’s habitat program manager. “We hope the breaching of the dikes will help introduce saltwater vegetation again and make the habitat even more hospitable to salmon.”
Reed canary grass thrives in freshwater and prevents native plant growth, impacting the natural functions of a wetland. Eliminating the canary grass will allow native dunegrass to flourish. The breached dikes will allow extreme high tides and river flow to flood the area, contributing to the critical habitat needed for salmon. The restoration will also provide improved habitat for ducks.
“It’s a well functioning estuary,” Rot said. “It just needs a little extra help to make sure the native plants are thriving and salmon have a place of refuge.”
Funding for this project came from the Salmon Recovery Funding Board and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
For more information, contact: Byron Rot, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe habitat program manager, at (360) 681-4615 or [email protected]; Randy Johnson, Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe restoration planner, at (360) 681-4631 or [email protected]; or Tiffany Royal, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission information officer, at (360) 297-6546 or [email protected].