By putting logs in Goldsborough Creek the Squaxin Island Tribe and the South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group will create salmon habitat and protect a logging railroad. The Tribe and the enhancement group are working with Simpson Lumber, the Green Diamond Resource Company and Miles Sand and Gravel to build new structures to benefit both salmon and jobs.
“Right now the creek doesn’t have enough of the things that salmon need, like pools and cover, to really survive,” said Scott Steltnzer, salmon biologist at the Squaxin Island Tribe. “The logs in the stream will help provide a nice large pool and help salmon as they migrate out and then when they come back as adults.”
The partners will also protect a railroad that runs next to the creek by building a log wall. Because the log wall will incorporate elements of a natural logjam, it will be more fish friendly than a traditional rock retaining wall. “It has been harder and harder for Simpson Lumber to maintain the railroad because the creek has been eroding the bank,” said Brian Combs, project manager for the South Puget Sound Salmon Enhancement Group. “The crib wall is a salmon safe option to making sure the railroad doesn’t wash away.”
Recent habitat work on Goldsborough Creek builds on an effort more than a decade ago to bring down a dam lower in the watershed. “After the dam came down, salmon were able to access the upper 25 miles of the Goldsborough Creek watershed,” Steltzner said. “By enhancing the habitat up here, we should boost salmon productivity even more.”
Last summer the tribe and the enhancement group also replaced two undersized culverts just upstream that blocked a tributary to Goldsborough, opening almost a mile of new spawning and rearing habitat.
Coho will especially benefit from the restoration project, since they spend more time in freshwater than other salmon species and depend more on freshwater habitat. Over the past 20 years, deep South Sound coho production has been on a slow but steady decline.
“We’re glad we can come together with other partners in the community to get a project like this off the ground,” said Andy Whitener, natural resources director for the tribe. “Salmon restoration projects are central to our efforts to protect our treaty rights. Without salmon, our way of life and economy suffers.”