Squaxin Island Tribe Restores Creek With Trees

KAMILCHE (January 12, 2006) – The Squaxin Island Tribe is restoring salmon habitat on a stream that runs through the tribe’s reservation by building a half-dozen log jams. “Salmon are important to the tribe today both culturally and economically,” said Andy Whitener, the tribe’s natural resources director. “Our connection to salmon means that we want to restore and protect their habitat.”

To open the valley for farming, Skookum Creek was straightened from a meandering stream into a ditch. “Fast, straight streams aren’t good habitat for salmon,” said John Konovsky, environmental program manager for the tribe. “Juvenile and adult salmon need slow water so they can rest and feed.”

Logjams help create deep pools, for example, in which adult salmon can hold while making their way upstream. They also provide shelter and food for juvenile salmon that haven’t yet made their way out to sea.

In addition to putting logs back into the creek, the tribe is creating the conditions that lead to logjams in the first place by planting over 2,000 conifers along the creek. “While logjams provide a quick fix, trees along the creek will make sure the solution works in the long run. Eventually these trees will shade and cool the creek,” said Konovsky. “Many of the trees will also fall into the creek, creating logjams that will slow the water and create habitat for salmon.”

Wild coho salmon, which spend more than a year in freshwater before moving out to sea, will especially benefit from improved freshwater conditions. “Wild coho in the South Sound have been in a prolonged slump for more than a decade,” said Konovsky. “Improving their habitat is the most significant thing we can do to recover them.”

The restored stretch of Skookum Creek runs behind the tribe’s casino and is just off a Highway 101. “This creek runs right through our reservation, past our houses. This is the creek we see everyday,” said Whitener. “Skookum may be a small creek, but to us it’s important as any other.”


For more information, contact: John Konovsky, environmental program manager, Squaxin Island Tribe, (360) 432-3804. Emmett O’Connell, South Sound information officer, NWIFC, (360) 529-4304, [email protected]