Jamestown builds ‘starter’ logjams on Dungeness River to aid salmon

SEQUIM –– Using helicopters to strategically place logs and to create jams on the Dungeness River, the Jamestown S’Klallam tribe and Olympic National Forest are working on a plan to create more rearing and spawning ponds for salmon.

“We’re trying to replace what has been taken out over the last several decades to get more of the natural processes back into sync,” said Marc McHenry, a fish biologist with the U.S. Forest Service.

The plan, currently under an environmental analysis, calls for 15 log jams to be placed in the Dungeness and Gray Wolf rivers along the boundary of Olympic National Forest.

The agencies would use 120 second-growth trees from a site above the Canyon Creek drainage, west of the Dungeness and Gray Wolf confluence.

Those logs would then be transported by helicopter to the rivers and put in place.

“The plan is to use large pieces of wood that would act as starter jams and catch more debris over the years,” McHenry said.

The goal is to create deeper pools in the upriver sites that fish could use to spawn and rear fry.

The jams would also open up connections to tributary streams that get cut off now when the river’s flow level drops, McHenry said.

“Through the decades, a lot of the infrastructure built in the forest, like roads and campgrounds, led to large wood pieces being taken out of the river,” McHenry said.

“That speeds up the river and drops its level, so it has become disconnected from its side channels.”

The Dungeness is used by Puget Sound chinook salmon, Puget Sound steelhead and coastal Puget Sound bull trout, all listed as endangered species under the federal Endangered Species Act, as well as coho and pink salmon.

Though the environmental review may be done as soon as next year, McHenry said the project is slated for the summer of 2016 to avoid the odd-year pink salmon run.

The forest service has previously put log jams in place in a similar manner on the South Fork Skokomish River upstream from Lake Cushman and in the Dosewallips River.

“But this one is a bit different because we’re going to be flying the wood into the river,” McHenry said.

The environmental analysis is open to public comment until Friday.

To do so, send written comments to Marc McHenry, fish biologist, P.O. Box 280, Quilcene 98376 or call 360-765-2231.

Email comments can be sent to comments-pacificnorthwest-olympic-hoodcanal@fs.fed.us.

For more information, including the scoping letter that outlines the project, visit tinyurl.com/PDN-logjam.

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