Habitat in a 1-mile stretch of the Skokomish River that has been degrading since the 1950s is getting a healthy boost with more than 2,000 logs and hundreds of native plants.

USFW's Marc McHenry and Skokomish Tribe's Joseph Pavel and Alex Gouley talk about the restoration work that took place on the South Fork of the Skokomish River this summer.

The Skokomish Tribe and U.S. Forest Service are installing 28 logjams in the river this summer. The structures help slow the river’s velocity and create habitat for fish to rest, feed and hide from predators. Some of the strategically placed piles of logs are buried 40 feet into the riverbanks. Native shrubs and other plants will also be planted along the riverbanks and within the floodplain.

The key goals of the project is to restore vegetation and fish habitat while stabilizing sediment movement within the river, said Alex Gouley, the Skokomish Tribe’s habitat program manager.

The area was logged in the 1950s in anticipation of reservoir construction. While the reservoir project was abandoned, damage to the land has lasted for decades. As a result, the river channel has shifted, widened and become shallow. The river’s bank has also become unstable. Burying piles of 120-foot-long logs deep into the riverbank and planting native vegetation will create proper habitat for the river’s fish that include steelhead, bull trout, coho and chinook. Puget Sound chinook, steelhead, and bull trout are listed as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act.

“It typically takes decades to re-create what the tribe and forest service are trying to recreate here, such as building up logjams,” said Brian Bair, a U.S. Forest Service fisheries biologist. “This project will accelerate the recovery process and create better habitat for salmon again.”

Funding and support from this project has come from state Salmon Recovery Funding Board, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Forest Service.