Taking out a rock berm, replacing it with logjams in Eatonville.
Two tracked excavators rumbled through the diverted, dry streambed of the Mashel River last week and dropped 40-foot trees and refrigerator-size boulders into a massive, muddy hole.
Another disaster for a river that’s taken a lot of punches during the past 100 years?
The excavators are doing the heavy work of creating 13 big engineered logjams that will soon provide shelter for young salmon and spawning grounds for adult salmon.
Think of the excavators as the instruments of major surgery – and new life – for the Mashel River, said Jeanette Dorner, the Nisqually Tribe’s salmon recovery manager.
“The Mashel went through huge transformations during the past 100 years – and they were not good for the river or for salmon and steelhead,” Dorner said. “We’re now trying to put natural wood, spawning areas and natural processes back into the system and create good habitat for fish.”
A rock berm built along the banks of the Mashel River a decade ago to combat flooding is being called a mistake today.
This week, heavy equipment is working along the banks of the river to replace the berm with a manmade logjam in the hope that it will provide a better and more natural refuge for juvenile salmon.
While work is underway, the river has been temporarily diverted.
“When we put the water back in and with the wood that’s in the system, then that will create the habitat for the fish again,” said Jeanette Dorner, Nisqually Salmon Recovery Manager.
The rock that the berm was made of actually made it harder for salmon to inhabit the area.
The story was also picked up by the Seattle Post Intelligencer and the Columbian.
Two stories in the Eatonville Dispatch:
From city park to salmon habitat
Salmon habitat restoration begins in Smallwood Park