Projects

Below you will find projects by Watershed Resource Inventory Area (WRIA):

WRIA 10 Puyallup & White Rivers
WRIA 11 Nisqually River
WRIA 12 Chambers & Clover Rivers
WRIA 13 Deschutes River
WRIA 14 Kennedy & Goldsborough Rivers
WRIA 15 South Kitsap Peninsula

To see what SPSSEG and others are doing for salmon recovery through out the state, check out the Habitat Work Schedule.

SPSSEG completes a variety of project types:

Fish Passage Barrier Projects

Fish passage barriers can be any natural or anthropogenic feature that prevents the movement of salmonids up or down a stream. These barriers include waterfalls, cascades, dikes/levees, ditches, culverts, weirs, flood/tide gates, dams, and other human made structures. SPSSEG focuses on culverts.

Culverts were installed years before the needs of fish were recognized or even understood. They were widely used to pass water under a road way. Improperly installed culverts can be a barrier to fish passage if one or more of the following occur.

  • The outlet of the culvert is too high, exceeding the jumping capacity of fish.
  • Water velocity is through the culvert is too fast, exceeding the swimming ability of fish. This can happen if the culvert is too small for the stream.
  • Depth of the water inside the culvert is to shallow for fish to swim through.
  • Debris can block access or create turbulence that exceeds the swimming abilities of fish.

Fish friendly culverts are constructed wider than the existing streambed, sloped at a similar gradient to the existing natural stream, and usually consist of a bottomless culvert placed over a natural streambed.

Washington Department of Transportation (WSDOT) fixes barrier culverts using a few approaches. They include fixing culverts as a general highway construction project, where culverts are fixed at the same time as roads. The Environmental Retrofit program (I-4) funds standalone fish barrier removal. It targets high priority culverts that would not otherwise be fixed through road construction. WSDOT works with WDFW to identify, fix, and monitor culverts that fall under I-4. Prioritizing factors include the amount of spawning/rearing habitat gained, quality of the habitat, the number of species that would benefit from the habitat, and the cost of the project.

Other barriers include abandoned structures such as old culverts, bridge structures, and dams. These obstructions may partially restrict fish passage or represent complete blockage to fish migration.

SPSSEG works along side many partners to identify and replace fish passage barriers. One project can = miles of spawning and rearing habitat.

For further information regarding properly/improperly designed culverts, please see:

Engineered Log Jams and Large Woody Debris:

Traditionally, streams functioning in a natural setting accumulated wood in the form of branches, root wads, and large logs. These woody structures known as log jams or large woody debris (LWD) provided critical habitat for fish, amphibians, and invertebrates through the formation of pools and the creation of cover.

Historically, we (the human population) did not know that LWD provided habitat to stream inhabitants. The general consensus was that wood in the streams blocked fish passage, as it prevented our boats from freely traveling up or down the waterway. It became common practice to remove wood from streams. Today some logging practices, road construction, and dams continue to contribute to a reduction in the amount of LWD found in rivers.

New knowledge has changed the perspective on LWD in streams, from an unwanted stream component, to a desirable stream component. Current scientific studies show that LWD enhances fish, especially salmonid, habitat by providing resting pools for adult spawners, promoting sediment deposition, and creating places of cover for juveniles. Now restoration biologists are trying to put back, what was historically taken out.

The Engineered Log Jam (ELJs) arose as a man made substitute for natural LWD. Essentially, an ELJ is made up of large pieces of wood strategically placed by engineers and construction workers in streams to mimic LWD. There are four main functions of ELJs as described by Herrera Environmental Consultants, Inc. (2006).

  1. Habitat Enhancement: ELJs reestablish diverse and complex habitat through the creation of pools and cover
  2. Bank Protection: ELJs direct flows away from stream banks, helping to prevent erosion
  3. Bar Apex: ELJs in the middle of a channel, divide the river into multiple channels, increasing channel length, depth, cover, and number of pools.
  4. Grade Control: ELJs help to retain sediment in the form of gravel for spawning salmonids as well as soil along the edges of the stream enriching the riparian zone.

Pre and Post Project Monitoring

Scientific monitoring before, during, and after project implementation evaluates success of our projects and guides future restoration efforts. These projects are time- and labor-intensive, and require reliable year-to-year funding.

Habitat Assessment Projects

Assessment studies identify areas for restoration and enhancement. Once identified, potential projects are prioritized with input from regional scientific and technical experts.