“This project has been identified for some time and we were finally able to get the pieces to line up to make it happen,” said Ray Colby, water quality specialist for the Makah Tribe. Previously located on private commercial timberlands, the site is one of several acquired by the Makah Tribe as tribal fee lands.
Past forest practices had drained the wetland into a concrete-slabbed bowl to create a water source for fire control and other needs. The change disconnected the wetland from Thirty Cent Creek, which supports coho and trout populations. The creek is a tributary to the 16-mile-long Sooes River that supports chinook and coho salmon and steelhead.
As part of restoring the wetland, four culverts were removed along with the concrete slab bowl. Finally, large rock was used to replace a wooden barrier that allowed water to accumulate in the wetland. “The rock will allow the water to just spill over as the wetland fills and fish can get in there and spend the winter,” Colby said.
Because the Sooes is a source of drinking water for the tribe, Colby is monitoring nitrogen and phosphorous levels in the creek before and after the project to make sure the water is safe for both fish and people. Haney is also preparing the hard-packed soil around the project site for planting native vegetation.
The project will open up about 128 acres of habitat to fish and was in cooperation with Makah Forestry Enterprise. “We couldn’t have done this project without the help from Jim Haney to get the permits and working through all the equipment breakdowns to see it to completion,” said Colby.
“People remember seeing fish in this part of Thirty Cent Creek in the past. It will be good to see fish in there again.”
For more information, contact: Ray Colby, water quality specialist, Makah Tribe, (360) 645-3165; Debbie Preston, coastal information officer, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, (360)374-5501.