Tribes, agencies partner on Hoko River Restoration

FORKS (October 3, 2008) – A joint effort of the Lower Elwha Klallam and Makah tribes, the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Rayonier Forest Resources L.P. has been successful in restoring an important part of the Hoko River as a thriving feeding and spawning ground for fish and other wildlife.

“This is a high priority restoration area because of the unique floodplain characteristics in the middle of the Hoko watershed, which provides prime habitat for salmon,” said Mike McHenry, Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe habitat program manager. “Partnerships such as this can only benefit the environment and the salmon.”

The restoration site is at the confluence of two major Hoko River tributaries, Ellis Creek and Creek 191. The site is about 50 miles west of Port Angeles and 20 miles northwest of Forks. The creeks run through state trust forests managed by DNR and private Rayonier forests.

Salmon habitat was lost to old logging practices that clear-cut streamside (riparian) areas and left the streams without the ecosystem that salmon need to survive, including tree shade and food sources. Coastal chinook, coho and steelhead, and cutthroat trout and chum, are commonly found in this watershed. The area is also prime habitat for marbled murrelets, which is listed as threatened on the federal Endangered Species Act.

Restoration work included removing a fish-blocking 8-foot-diameter culvert and 3,500-cubic yards of fill, opening up nearly 1.5 miles of excellent salmon habitat on Creek 191. Crews also removed two log bridges that restricted the river channel’s flow.
A series of nine engineered log jams were installed in the river, using more than 300 large logs with root wads throughout the half-mile stretch of the restoration area. Nearly 100 more logs will be brought in by helicopter in September and placed within a one-mile reach of Ellis Creek, near its confluence with the river. The log additions will help create habitat important for young salmon in which to feed and rest as they make their way to the ocean.

“The restoration of floodplain habitats in the Hoko River watershed is important because of the diversity of habitats that they create and the number of species that utilize them,” McHenry said.

“It is especially gratifying to participate in a project that will make such a difference to salmon and other wildlife,” said Commissioner of Public Lands Doug Sutherland. “All of us in natural resource management have improved so much in our logging practices since this area was harvested many years ago — as projects like this stream restoration help illustrate. I appreciate the tribes’ and Rayonier’s partnership with us. Our best work is done jointly, enhancing and protecting larger areas within a watershed.”

“Rayonier is particularly pleased to be involved in the project to enhance the riparian habitat on the Hoko,” said Ian MacIver, Rayonier’s timber resource manager in Forks. “We continue to collaborate and work closely with area tribes, the DNR and the Salmon Recovery Funding Board to deliver win-win solutions which can be used as models for other restoration projects.”

Funding for the project came from the Lower Elwha Klallam and Makah tribes, Rayonier, DNR and the Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board. The work is expected to be completed by the end of the summer.

Washington DNR
The Washington State Department of Natural Resources manages 2.1 million acres of forested state trust lands statewide. DNR’s management of these forests has earned them green certification under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® SFI®. Doug Sutherland, who leads DNR, is Washington’s 12th Commissioner of Public Lands since statehood in 1889.


Photos of the project are available on Washington DNR’s website pressroom: Please credit photos to Eric Carlsen/NEC Construction Management.

For more information, contact: Mike McHenry, Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe habitat program manager, at (360) 457-4012 ext. 14 or [email protected]; Jeremy Gilman, Makah Tribe Forest and Fish hydrologist at (360) 645-3155 or [email protected]; Jane Chavey, Washington State Department of Natural Resources Communications Office, at 360-902-1721 or [email protected]; Michelle Verlander, Rayonier, at (360) 613-4029 or [email protected];
Debbie Preston, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission coastal information officer, at (360) 374-5501 or [email protected]; or Tiffany Royal, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission Hood Canal/Strait of Juan de Fuca information officer, at (360) 297-6546 or [email protected].