Upper Skagit fisheries technician Tim Shelton dismantles beaver dams, releasing the branches and debris downstream.

For the past several years, the Upper Skagit Tribe has been monitoring five channels in Rockport, Marblemount and Newhalem to make sure beaver activity doesn’t keep salmon from reaching their spawning grounds.

Beaver had taken over several side channels that were constructed for chum salmon habitat. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife built the channels years ago to replace habitat that had been lost to development, including Seattle City Light hydroelectric dams on the Skagit River.

“These human-built channels produce a large percentage of the chum in the Skagit,” said Scott Schuyler, natural resources director for the Upper Skagit Tribe. “They provide stable side channel habitat that’s not susceptible to flooding. It’s our responsibility to make sure fish passage is possible during the crucial spawning season.”

Tribal natural resources staff visit the channels weekly from October to January to remove beaver dams that block fish passage. The process was too time-consuming before fencing and beaver deceivers were installed.

“Instead of spending two days a week kicking out the dams, we were able to prevent beavers from blocking the channels in the first place,” said Jon-Paul Shannahan, fisheries biologist for the Upper Skagit Tribe.

See related story: Tribes find ways to keep beavers from blocking fish passage

For information, contact: Jon-Paul Shannahan, Upper Skagit Tribe, 360-854-7089 or jonpauls@upperskagit.com; Kari Neumeyer, NWIFC, 360-424-8226 or kneumeyer@nwifc.org