(Olympia, Wash) More wild salmon could soon be swimming for The Evergreen State College woods with the removal of a major barrier to their upriver migration.
With assistance from partners including The Evergreen State College, Washington State Salmon Recovery Funding Board, The Wild Fish Conservancy, People For Puget Sound, the Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program and The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration--Restore America’s Estuaries program, an undersized 3-foot wide culvert at the mouth of campus’s Snyder Creek will be removed and replaced by a 14-foot wide box culvert. The cost of the culvert project totals $214,000, and is covered by contributions from The Evergreen State College, the Salmon Recovery Funding Board, and the Estuary and Salmon Restoration Program.
The new fish passage will serve fish species such as coho salmon, chum salmon, cutthroat, and possibly steelhead. The bottom of the culvert will hold native stream bed. According to Jamie Glasgow of Wild Fish Conservancy, “Fish won’t even know they are in a culvert as they pass through it.”
Fish will once again gain access to almost one mile of spawning and rearing habitat. The work will also restore the natural processes of sediment, wood, and water transport - processes that researchers have found to be vital for fish and forest health. A work team, including contactor Horsley Timber and Construction, an engineer from Fisheries Consultant, Inc., an archeologist from the Squaxin Island Tribe, and fish biologists from Wild Fish Conservancy began construction on August 31 and construction will continue through September 6.
Bulkheads, barrier culverts, and other shoreline obstructions are threats to salmon habitat throughout the Puget Sound, and this project represents a potential model for actions around the Sound to restore fish access to critical breeding and rearing habitat. Restoring these habitats also has wider ecosystem benefits beyond the benefits for salmonids because it restores the ecological processes that shape diverse habitat structures. The shoreline of the College is one of the largest remaining stretches of undeveloped shoreline in south Puget Sound and thus restoration adjacent to that shoreline provides an opportunity for significant impact.
Horsley Construction was contracted by Wild Fish Conservancy after a competitive bid process. This method of public works required an innovative agreement between Wild Fish Conservancy and the college. Jamie Glasgow is the project manager for Wild Fish Conservancy.
Snyder Creek flows into Eld Inlet at Snyder Cove at the northwest corner of The Evergreen State College in Olympia.