Surveys by the Puyallup Tribe of Indians confirm that a small chum run on Rody Creek was decimated by illegal dredging last fall. In October a landowner dug out the bottom of Rody Creek, preventing salmon from reaching spawning habitat by perching a culvert.

Russ Ladley, resource protection manager for the tribe:

He literally just scooped out the bottom of the creek and piled it up in front of his house. Apparently, he was trying to prevent the creek from flooding his property. But he probably also made sure Rody Creek won’t produce any chum this year.

In addition to chum, the creek also supports coho salmon.

Here are more photos of the damage.

The only good spawning habitat in the creek is above the culvert, which is now mostly impassable.

Tribal staff counted almost 60 chum in the creek during their annual surveys, only eight of which made it above the newly perched culvert.

Ironically, many of the problems associated with the creek – lack of quality salmon habitat and flooding problems for landowners – were to be addressed by a restoration project last summer. The Pierce County sponsored project is stalled because of a lack of funding.

Ladley:

The project would’ve taken on the flooding issues that obviously led to the frustration that caused the landowner to take heavy equipment into the stream. In addition to helping prevent flooding, the project would have also benefited salmon by improving salmon passage and rearing habitat.

Both landowners and salmon would’ve benefited a lot by the project going forward. Unfortunately, the salmon in the creek have been hammered.

Rody is fairly typical for most lower Puyallup watershed streams. The lower creek contains very little spawning or rearing habitat.

In any given year, the chum run in Rody Creek is small, fewer no more than 100 fish. Four years ago though, over 400 chum were seen in the creek, by far the most in recent years.

While the property owner has been fined by the state, no repair work was done.

Ladley:

Rody Creek is small, but this is the kind of destruction that can happen without much consequence if we don’t enforce the rules that are supposed to protect creeks and salmon. There are hundreds of creeks like Rody in the Puget Sound, if we can’t protect this one, every single one of them is threatened.