2007 Annual Report

21st Century Vision for Sustainable Forestry

Forest Roads Improvement Program Protects Water Quality and Fish Habitat

With the implementation of the Forests & Fish Law, forest landowners are required to improve their forest roads to protect public resources, including water, fish, and wildlife habitat. Improved road maintenance and construction practices reduce or eliminate runoff and sediment being delivered into streams, which can degrade water quality and fish habitat.

The Law addresses this challenge through Road Maintenance and Abandonment Plans, or RMAPs. These plans are outlined to properly abandon or stabilize existing forest roads no longer in use and improve standards on how new roads are to be built. So far, nearly 60,000 miles of roads have improved, opening up almost 1,000 miles of stream habitat.

For example, one WFPA member, Merrill & Ring, was able to work collaboratively with the nearby Lower Elwha tribe to come up with funding to create new spawning areas for fish in the South Fork Pysht River. The project included replacement of a culvert with a bridge, construction of a channel to connect a pond with the river, and placing large woody debris in the constructed channel and the South Fork Pysht River.

Since project completion, adult salmon have been observed in the new channel and hundreds of young salmon are seen in the pools created by the large woody debris placement.

Pysht River Bridge Project

Near the river was a pond that had an overflow culvert under the road which then drained into roadside ditches that eventually drained back into the river. The collaborative group’s plan for restoration of this area was to replace the culvert with a passageway that would allow fish to reach the pond, and to construct a channel for fish use while maintaining the ditches for road run-off.

One reason this project was considered of such importance was the observation of adult salmon trying to swim through the ditches for spawning. Part of the creative problem solving needed for this project was how to create a passageway, that would be open during high water, yet not get washed out, and not drain the pond. It was decided that a small bridge placed over the road would be needed, instead of a culvert.

To further improve the access to the pond, a channel was dug out connecting to the river. Large woody debris was placed in the stream. Previous work helped the Lower Elwha S’Klallam crew decide where the most natural places for log jams would be. These log jams at first appear to block the stream, but a closer look shows numerous passages between, under, and around the logs. These passages are large enough to permit the passage of adult spawning salmon in the fall and provide hiding places for the salmon fry, which helps them escape from predators.